Time Management Tips (How To Find An Hour A Day)

By Steve McClatchy, President, Alleer Training & Consulting

Plan 5 Minutes Every Day – Taking less than 1% of your day to plan the other 99% will yield much more than 5 minutes in return.  The many benefits of a written plan include the ability to recover faster from interruptions, to control events instead of events controlling you, to weigh daily opportunities against your plan so you can make better decisions and to save the time lost transitioning between tasks.   The excuse I hear most often for not planning is “I don’t have time” but really it’s time you lose when you don’t have a plan.

Use One Time Management System – There is no greater cause of stress then not delivering on a commitment.  Whether its your mortgage or rent commitment or a commitment you make to a customer or fellow employee not following through causes us a great deal of stress.  Have a system that brings your commitments to you without all the worry.  Don’t let floating pieces of paper that can be misplaced be your only reminder of commitments.  Get them all in one system.

If You Can’t Do It Today Don’t Look At It Today – Instead of creating one “to-do” list you should have one for each and every day of the year.   The most basic function of a day planner is to act as a 365-day “to-do” list.  Day planners, Palm Pilots ®, Outlook ® and the like give you this ability but few people take advantage of this simple function. Think of the power of this one skill.  Now if you think of something you can’t do until next Wednesday you can put it on next Wednesdays “to-do” list and forget about it.  If you plan everyday that task will come back to you all by itself.  If a client asks you to call them back in 3 months you no longer have to beat yourself up trying to remember you can let your planning device do it for you.  “Future to-do lists” as I call them are the key to goal achievement, effective delegation, contact management, project management and making sure details and the commitments you make don’t fall through the cracks.

Prioritize – From a very high level there are only two forms of human motivation and they are to “move toward gain” or to “prevent pain.”  Gain activities include things that move you toward your goals or values.  Prevent pain activities include all responsibilities that would eventually find you if you neglected them.  Activities that move us toward gain produce significant results that help us to lead and improve our lives.  Activities that prevent pain produce insignificant results that help us to manage and maintain our lives.  Great time managers (great decision makers) have gain activities as a consistent part of everyday.

Get Organized – If it doesn’t have a “home” it’s clutter!   If you want more time, spend less of it looking for what you need.  Remember a cluttered desk, office, car or home makes a cluttered mind.  If we break it down getting organized can be really easy.  It’s really about taking the time to assign objects, files or whatever a specific home.  When we assign something a home it’s easy to retrieve it when we need it.  I know of no one that has not assigned a location in their home for their forks, knives and spoons.  As a result we spend very little time ever looking for these things.  Apply this very same concept to getting organized.  Assign a home to the things in your office, on your desk, in your car and in your home and spend less time looking for them when you need them.

Turn “To Do’s” Into Appointments – What is higher in priority than a task that has been prioritized an “A” on a “to-do” list?  The answer is an appointment on your calendar.  A “to-do” is a discretionary task that is time flexible. Appointments are time specific.  We defend appointments we tend to put off tasks. Think of the difference in commitment between having exercise on your “to-do” list and having an appointment on your calendar to meet with a personal trainer.  To take your time management skills to the next level take your “A’s” off your “to-do” list and find a way to get them on your calendar.

Under Commit and Over Deliver – This is one of the greatest productivity secrets of all time.  So often we tend to do the opposite.  This one skill alone can reduce tremendous amounts of stress in your life and significantly strengthen your relationships.

Find A Mentor or Coach – Even Michael Jordan will tell you he needed a coach to be his best.  Each of us needs a raving fan that roots us on and teaches us the skills we need to be successful.  Find someone who can mentor you and coach you along the path to reaching your goals.  If you can’t find an all round coach its okay to have more than one.  Have a coach for each area you would like to improve.

Become Observant of Yourself and Others – Observe the ways you are currently spending your time.  If you do it write it down.  Take notice of where your time goes and where and with whom you spend it.  Once you are aware of where your time goes it will be much easier to determine what you should do differently.  The second step is to make better choices.  It takes a lot of character to try something new but if you don’t change what you’re doing then you’ll keep getting exactly what you’re getting.

Learn To Say “No” – Saying “no” for some people is a very hard thing to do but it has tremendous rewards.  Ask yourself “what is the wisest and best use of my time right now?” If any given opportunity does not meet that criterion, say “no” to the opportunity.

Get Motivated – Everyone is motivated differently. Find what motivates you and use it. When you’re in a positive mood you can get more done so use positive material to help you get there. Experts say that over 87% of what you hear each day is negative.  If this is true you better have a way of reducing its effect. Make sure you are getting what you need to stay positive and motivated. I highly recommend purchasing positive tapes and CD’s for listening in the car.

Get Rid Of It – Make a list of all the things you hate to do and pay someone else to do them. Don’t try to figure out why you hate them just get rid of them.  Pay family, friends, neighbors, kids, parents, grandparents, cousins, teachers, high school students, college students, parishioners, colleague’s, client’s, vendors or consultants. If you don’t have the resources to pay someone else then try swapping.

Computer Efficiency –  The speed of your typing and your ability to navigate the computer absolutely affect your ability to be productive.  More and more of our time each day is spent on the computer.  Make time for computer skills development by either scheduling time with someone you know is good, formally scheduling time into a computer class, or just purchasing magazines and literature that will give you tips and advice.

Leave A Great Message – Leaving a message asking someone to call you back does not qualify as a great message.  A great message communicates very clearly what you want the person you are calling to-do, to-know or to-schedule and it includes your name, company and phone number spoken clearly.  This allows the person you are calling to easily return your call and if they don’t get you still provide you with the information you need.  Leaving your caller with your schedule for the day and when you will be available is another great tip.  I also recommend, whenever possible, leaving your message in such a way that negates the need for the recipient to call you back. A great message is one that reduces a lot of work for both you and your caller and saves you both a lot of time.

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