4 Ways to Balance Innovation and Time Management

The key to success In today’s rapidly changing business environment is to balance innovation. However, with expanding global competition and the increased pace of the digitized world, time management is also vital to accomplishing organizational goals. So how do leaders manage deadlines while allowing space for creative thought and innovative problem-solving?

1. To Balance Innovation, Put Thinking on Your To-Do List

One of the most basic elements of time management is to create a daily task list and organize your time around that list. However, many people forget to include time to think and plan on their to-do lists. Creative thought requires time to think and focus on a challenge or problem to be solved. Leaders must create space and time in their schedules to allow for thoughtful deliberation. Make this time as important as any meeting or deadline—block your calendar, turn off your phone, whatever is needed to allow some time for thinking every day. 


2. Manage Daily Distractions

You might be thinking there is simply no time in the day to “just” sit around thinking. However, almost everyone wastes a fair amount of their day dealing with distractions. To create time for innovation and creativity, take a close look at where time slips away throughout the day. Try tracking your activities for a few days to see how much time you spend on things like unexpected interruptions, checking email, responding to voicemails. For example, say you check email once an hour for 10 minutes during the workday. At the end of each day, you have spent almost an hour and a half just checking emails, which may not even include responding to them. Could you save time by allotting 15 minutes, 3 times a day, to read and respond to your email messages? 


3. Stop Trying to Multi-Task Your Way to Innovation

Neuroscience research has proven that humans cannot actually multi-task in any meaningful way. What we mistakenly call multi-tasking is really the mind switching between tasks as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the process of starting and stopping is detrimental to focus and efficiency and takes more time than completing one task at a time. It is tempting to check email during that Zoom meeting, but it will probably cost you more time when you miss a vital detail or have to ask someone to repeat themselves because you weren’t focused on the conversation. When you are tempted to multi-task, try blocking a short amount of time for each task instead. You will find you will complete each task faster and with better results. 


4. Don’t Let Perfect Be the Enemy of Good

One of the golden rules of innovation is never to let the pursuit of a perfect outcome get in the way of a good result. Large innovative companies like Apple and Lego have learned that creativity and innovation should be a continuous iterative process. Their successful designs are a product of improving details over time in each new iteration of a device or toy. This can be applied to any project, so focus on doing good work that meets the client’s needs, then repeat what works, and adjust where needed to save time on the next project.