Who’s Managing Your Time?

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The first thing that business owners need to acknowledge is that there is not enough time in a day to do everything they want to do!  That means they have to consciously decide what they are going to do with the limited amount of time that they have at their disposal. With over four decades of practical experience here are my 6 keys to time management:

  1. Know how you Spend your Time
    • Successful people identify and then eliminate “time wasters!”
    • Look at your work schedule from last week and ask yourself…If my distribution of time does not change…will I be able to achieve my personal and/or professional goals?
      • If your answer is no you have to ask yourself:
        • What activities should you continue doing?
        • What activities would like to start doing?
        • What activities must you stop doing?
  1. Set Clear Goals
    • A key secret to effective time management is to have clearly defined goals. You must write them down and keep them visible.
    • To help you set the appropriate time aside for them, divide your goals into three classifications:
      • Daily goals
      • Professional goals
      • Personal goals
  1. Prioritize your Activities
    • When you prioritize, consider the following:
      • Some matters are urgent, but relatively unimportant
      • Others are highly important, but not urgent
      • Others are extremely important and urgent
    • Once you have identified the activities that need to be completed it is often helpful to use some kind of system to prioritize your tasks
      • One method is the day, week and month schedule where your list is divided into three sections…day/week/month
  1. Minimize Interruptions
    • It is estimated that business owners are interrupted an average of six times per hour. Every time your concentration is broken, you spend a certain amount of time reorienting yourself. Isn’t this a waste of time? You can prevent interruptions when you identify their causes and how much time they consume.
    • Not all interruptions are time wasters. You can turn interruptions into productive meetings. When employees interrupt with a matter you know will need your attention use my 3 “D” approach:
      • Handle it then (Do)
      • Ask them to see you later (Defer)
      • Have them recommend potential solutions (Delegate)
  1. Learn to Delegate
    • The inability to delegate creates the biggest bottleneck in our personal and professional lives!
    • Delegating is simply defined as achieving results through giving responsibility to others. So why can’t we or don’t we delegate?
      • The number one reason is the “I-can-do-it-Better-Myself” syndrome
    • How does one delegate?
      • Consider gradually increasing authority and responsibility of employees
      • Communicate assignments early and clearly
      • After the employee thoroughly understands the limits of their authority encourage them to take the ball and run with it
      • When employees have the responsibility for the decision…allow them to make it
  1. Set Aside Uninterrupted Time
    • Every week you should make up a detailed time plan…which you modify as needed.
      • Except in times of crisis, try to make sure day-to-day issues don’t push your strategic time priorities off schedule.
    • Use the concept of “time blocking” to your advantage
      • Block a set amount of time every day in your calendar (i.e., 10 AM and 3 PM for 30-minutes each) to make sure the day doesn’t get away from you

 

Some additional time saving tips:

  • Ask yourself throughout the day:
    • “Is this what I want or need to be doing right now?”
  • If yes, then keep doing it.
  • If not, stop or delegate the activity.
  • At the end of each day create a “to-do” list for the following day. Mark items as “A” and “B” in priority.
    • Set aside two hours right away each morning to do the important “A list” items and then do the “B list” items in the afternoon.
    • Let your voice mail or employees take your calls during your “A list” time.
  • Learn good meeting management skills.
    • Ensure that all meetings have a purpose, time limit, and include only essential people.
  • Concentrate on doing only one task at a time.
  • Maintain accurate calendars…abide by them.