See also: How to manage your time more effectively
Christine Ashton thinks time management is best summed up by the adage that if you want something done, you should ask a busy person.
People with the flexibility to chunk up in some situations and chunk down in others get a lot more done.
Cognitive psychologists believe that we can manage seven – plus or minus two – meaningful units of work, or chunks, which are defined according to the level of detail you need to concern yourself with.
To view the big picture chunk up; to get into detail chunk down.
Ashton, regional CIO for oil and gas giant BG Group, recommends breaking a problem into small components and then giving each piece to the most appropriate person.
To do this right you have to spend time building a team with complementary skills and develop a mental catalogue of what each person does best.
“You need to develop a laser sharp understanding of who is good at what,” she says.
“Otherwise, if you delegate a task to somebody with mistaken beliefs about what that person does well, work will back up very quickly, just like a blocked sink with water overflowing in all directions. You have to keep the production line going.
“It’s like the IT concept of process orchestration. Break down the problem. Sequence things. Then delegate. Make sure you match the customer with the supplier. Think about what things are going to be used for and align the skills on your team to that requirement.”
To build a good team Ashton goes further than just hiring people who can do things better than her. “Hire people you would want to work for,” she says.
With an organisation of around 300 people, Ashton’s IT responsibility includes Europe, Africa, and India, which is everything in BG Group outside of Australia and the Americas.