For many professionals, time is like a tidal wave that threatens to crash in on the best-laid plans with only the slightest warning. Here are 10 tips to get on top and in control of your most priceless resource—the time of your life!
1. Reduce time-wasting activities.
Eliminate time drains in your activity log. Look for interruptions, meetings, crises, an inability to say “no,” lack of objectives/ priorities, indecision, procrastination, unclear communication, attempting too much, and leaving tasks unfinished.
2. Respect your time.
If you waste 30 minutes a day, by the end of the year you will have lost the month of February. Treat time as “personal capital.” Invest it in activities that pay off in dividends such as increased revenue, customer retention, stress reduction, work-life balance, etc.
3. Restrain time commitments.
Avoid overcommitting. Work overload leads to diminishing returns. Don’t take on more than you can comfortably handle. There’s always enough time for what really matters. Save time for yourself each day. You’ll build reserves of energy you’ll need when things get hectic.
4. Sort the urgent and important.
Decide what must be done now (urgent) and what contributes to the mission (important). To feel in control of your time, reduce the number of urgent and important matters (A priorities) so that you can invest 80 percent of your time on important but not urgent matters (B priorities). B priorities have to do with preventative measures, crisis elimination, creating life-work balance, etc. Use the 20-80 rule to separate the vital few from the trivial many. Invest 20 percent of your time in your top priority to be 80 percent effective.
5. Eliminate distractions.
To eliminate time wasters, be ruthless about eliminating situations that intrude on your personal time. Assign interruption times, move to a quiet location, use voice mail, or start work before the crowds come in.
6. Find information fast.
Studies show that 20 percent of time is spent searching for and/or just handling information. To be organized, be able to put your hands on whatever you need in your workspace within 60 seconds.
7. Break the procrastination habit.
This is possibly the greatest time waster of all. Make a radical change in your routine by breaking major tasks into subtasks. Take it one bite at a time. Start on the easier parts first. Use the “As long as I’m here” technique to get the ball rolling. Reward small victories.
8. Use other people’s time to leverage your own—delegate.
The greater your responsibilities, the more help you need from others. Always ask, “Who else can I get to do this for me?” Delegate, delegate, and then delegate more until you are doing only what you can do.
9. Be creative with your time.
Discard costly habits and replace them with more innovative techniques. Barter time with others, trade favors, consolidate activities geographically, plan ahead, have a Plan B ready. Keep your eye on the goal, exploring new ways of reaching it if you hit a wall. Nothing worthwhile ever came easily.
10. Add hours to your time budget by working smarter, not harder.
Use e-mail, speed-reading and memory techniques; make good decisions quickly based on what’s important; only handle paper once; multitask; and delegate.
Lorna Riley is a 25-year veteran international professional speaker, trainer, published author, and CEO of Chart Learning Solutions. She has created more than 80 training programs, four Coaching Guides, 220 eLearning modules, and assessments in sales, leadership, management, and customer service. You can reach her at Lorna@chartlearningsolutions.com or by phone at 760-639-4020.