Management Strategies Inc 

  An International Company

Tools for Effective Time Management

Don't say you don't have enough time! 

You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo daVinci, Thomas Jefferson, Madame Currie and Albert Einstein.  And anyway… that statement is one for the books, to be thrown out the window with rest of negative thinking.  No matter how overwhelming the task in front of you, remember you have the same 24 hours as George Bush has today and that Thomas Edison, Leonardo daVinci and many other big producers had before. The power of time may well be in how well we use those same hours by using basically the same golden rules of time management...  like planning, prioritizing, delegating, dividing big task into smaller ones, measuring progress, etc. that the achievers use.

Plan, Prioritize and Pace

Time Saving Tips: 

1.      Don't procrastinate. The longer you put off a task, the more time you're wasting that could be used to do that task or something else.  This is the biggest obstacle to overcome on your path to effective time management.

2.      Put a dollar value on your time. Figure out how much your time is worth and the rest will fall into place.  

3.      Do the right work at the right time. If you're a morning person, you should be busily writing the client memo at 9 a.m., not standing in line at the post office,  In other words, do intellectual tasks when you're the most alert and save the mundane tasks for your low-energy moments.

4.      Automate. Find ways to do things faster by automating. The key is to use technology to decrease the time it takes to get something done. Sometimes automation will seem like a time saver, but practical experience will show that it's not.

5.      Screen calls. There are "high-maintenance" friends and clients. Using an answering machine or caller ID lets you know when to take a call or when to let the machine answer it.

6.      Find a different location. If you have work you need to do and it's not getting done because of constant interruptions, consider spending a day or part of a day doing the job at home. Or, if you work out of the home, consider turning off the phone ringer or screening calls for a couple of hours to get the important project done.

7.     Implement an efficient organizational system. It doesn't matter whether you use a Franklin Day Planner, a Palm Pilot or a legal pad and a pen. Find a system that works for you. Use a to do list!   Any simple method for organizing is good.  When working on large projects that require multi-tasking use a good Project Management Software Package.  My favorite is Microsoft Project. 

9.     Reshuffle the list as needed. Re-evaluate tasks and priorities as your project or day proceeds; group tasks into long term or short term.  Prioritize using simple number or alpha systems.

10.   Always expect the unexpected. In a typical week plan for only 25 – 30 hours of regular work and allow 10 – 15 hour for the unexpected.  Not scheduling every minute gives you that extra needed time for catch up  - should nothing unexpected come up!

11.   Clean up as you go along.  This one is a no-brainer!  Put files or tools away immediately.  Helps to avoid clutter and just plain makes you look good.

12.   Avoid useless filing. If you don’t need it throw it away!

KISS – Keep it Simple Silly! 

KISS Tip # 1 . . .   minimize interruptions

Those nasty interruptions are a challenge for almost everyone. Consider your office or cubicle layout.  Think about repositioning your desk or your chair, use plants as a screen and a barrier - you will be less distracted.

Sometimes just making yourself unavailable for every passer-by will help to save valuable and productive time each day!

Each and every time our eyes connect with another - we give subliminal approval to be interrupted. Some of those connections turn into minutes. A few minutes here and there turn quickly into hours. Haven't you often heard yourself saying: "Where has the day gone?"

KISS Tip # 2 . . .   avoid clutter 

Clean-up as you go along - putting off keeping a clean desk or creating piles of paper will only come back and bite you!  Our mothers had the right ideas when they stayed after us to pick up every thing and keep our rooms clean.

ORGANIZE!  Eliminate all clutter in your life – in your garage – in the pantry – on your desk!  One sure and fast way to save time is the ability to move around your belongings and find things quickly. Your desk and work areas should not be cluttered.  Your file system should be simple and easy for anyone to navigate.  Keep things and files that you reference or use often - close at hand.  Archive files that are not referenced but need to be stored. 

KISS Tip # 3 . . .   learn WHEN to procrastinate

Sometimes you just need to put things off!!  WHAT you say!! A business management specialist telling you to procrastinate!  And... after all it is the #1 "time saving tip!".  Well, you know what - if you feel overwhelmed; with just way too much to do --  put the brakes on! Sit back, relax, put some things off and re-organize!  Some things will just go away!  Of course the key here is to re-prioritize things and attend to the most important items first.  Just stepping outside the box can help save the day!

Useful Procrastination: Procrastination typically is not a beneficial behavior. But… when presented with problems or decisions that cannot be solved immediately - do not let clog your mind. Put them away in a drawer.  Once a month, (or more or less frequently, depending on your needs), take out your 'problems' and go through them. Over half will have solved themselves and gone away. Throw these away. About a quarter you will still be unable to do anything about - put them back in the drawer. The rest you will now be able to attend to.  This useful method of re-examination will actually eliminate some of the problems or at least give some of them the time to work themselves out.  

KISS Tip # 4 . . .  avoid information overload!

Oh, dread!  Sometimes you just get to the point where you know too much!  This can be a real dilemma!  In this very fast Information Age – information overload can be a real hassle.  The task at hand is to convert the information into knowledge.  We just need to know how to retrieve the needed information or intelligence when required.

Did you know that we receive more material in one weekend paper than the majority of people living in the 1700's would have had access to in their entire lifetime.

Keep up with the news - skim, focus and discard. Be very selective with what you read.  Skim-read and discard information that you do not need.  Keep up with the material needed for the tasks at hand. 

How much time do you spend on non-focused reading each week? You may well enjoy it, but what else CAN'T you do because of the time taken in such cerebral pursuits? It might be worth learning speed-reading.  Take an audit of the magazines that you read. Subscribing to too many printed magazines can be both expensive and time consuming.

At all costs avoid even looking through junk mail – toss all printed junk mail as fast as possible.  Delete immediately all e-mail spam! 

We gain time by focusing on the information sources most relevant for ourselves, and not losing sleep about what we might miss out on. We should be selective about what we read.   We need to make good choices about what to ignore and even… what to forget.

KISS Tip # 5 . . .  slow down!

The key issue here it to work carefully – doing things right the first time is a critical component to doing a quality job!  When we do not have to redo things and go over them to make repairs we definitely are saving time!  It is really that simple!  But this concept is one that needs and demands focus and concentration.

KISS Tip # 6 . . .  schedule your phone time

Set aside specific times of the workday for phone calls.

Use the answer machine!  Many worth less phone distractions can be eliminated with this method.  You can also make decisions as priority and to which calls need to be returned or ignored.  Besides being able to hold your phone messages some machine will actually permit live screening of calls.

PREPARE FOR PHONE CALLS. Before you call someone, make a list of important things you want to say or ask. This way, you won't forget anything, and you won't have to waste time calling back later.  Preparation will also help you stay focused and keep things to the point.

KISS Tip # 7 . . . use your e-mail as a tool

Efficient e-mail tips - How to keep the Inbox empty: Use your e-mail as a tool not a hindrance to your productivity.

Skim your email Inbox quickly. Delete the obvious ones; send quick 'I'll get back to you soon' responses to the important and lengthier mail; answer the quick matters, and drag other less urgent mail into a separate folder.  Throw out all useless e-mail instantly!

Goal - to keep the dreaded Inbox empty!

As with written correspondence - SEND BACK THE ORIGINAL.  Rather than typing up a brand new letter, answer routine correspondence right on the original you received. Keep a copy for your records and mail the original back to the sender with your response.

 General Time Saving Tips

         Set realistic goals and have clear and concise objectives to meet those goals.

         Keep a list and PRIORITIZE IT.

         Delegate; train your staff and check up on tasks you assign, Do not over delegate.

         Develop routines.

         Control interruptions (put a "do not disturb" sign up).

         Minimize meetings, but make them worthwhile when necessary.  Agendas are a requirement.

         Keep notes or a journal and keep it on your desk 

         Concentrate on only one thing at a time. 

         Handle correspondence quickly and efficiently. Don’t let it pile up.

         Communicate clearly.  Be specific.  Bullet points are quick, efficient and to the point.

         Always have lunch. Avoid discussing business, eat slowly and take your full lunch period.

         Ask for help – know where to look things up and keep reference books nearby.

         Visit people that make you feel good. This will keep your energy level high.

         Keep things positive!

         Keep track of your down moods on a calendar. If cycles can be traced, prepare for them.

         Pay attention to your health, diet and sleep.  Exercise – work out!

         Keep the work you have to do right in front of you.

         Set specific time limits on tasks.

         Break the task down into segments.

         Keep a positive disposition toward staff & co-workers.

      Be assertive - say no when you need to.

Remember, time is our most important commodity.

To waste your time is to waste your life.

Don’t spend your life . . .live it.

Time Wasters...  And how to avoid them:

MEETINGS:  Save time by scheduling a conference call or a video conference. Saves time and Money.  Technology is the ultimate time saver if used effectively.

LONG WINDED CALLERS: State upfront that you have just a few minutes available.   Stay on the point, answer precisely or ask your questions immediately.  If someone starts rambling remind them you need to go and if important that you will call back. Screening calls also saves time. 

Looking for lost items: Organization is key. "A place for everything and everything in it's place"! Set up a good filing system and have a good material reference area.  Quickly retrieving information is valuable to saving time.  Information is power.  Keep supplies handy.  Use the circle system where things that you use most often stay closest to you and lesser important things move further away from you in a circular prioritizing fashion.

LACK of Focus: Don't be a bouncing ball, you don't need to accomplish everything...  just the important things! Keep it simple. Use just one TO-DO list.  Note the word USE!!

INTERRUPTIONS:  Close the office door, let the voice-mail take your messages.  If working on an important project - share the information with your team that you need an un-interrupted few hours.  If it helps arrive early to work or leave later.

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Being rich is having money; being wealthy is having time

Map out your errandsThink about the logistics of what you are working on. Make a list.  I've found it helps when I make a list of everything I need to get done and then plan out how to get it all done with out crossing my tracks.  

While many things are very immediate, they are not really that important to your personal growth but they have to get done, we have to breathe every second, drink every hour, eat every day, if the phone rings we need to answer it. How we set our priorities will help direct and manage our time.  Assign a numbering system to help prioritize your tasks.  

Color Code!



Don't try to reinvent the wheel!  



Use Templates!

Using templates is what Henry Ford put to work on his plan to mass produce the automobile ... and we all know what that did for the production of the car!



In the competitive business world, wasted time can lead to lost profits.  Time managed well is time well spent!

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