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HOME::Time Mastery

Top 7 Worth-Your-Time Time Management Tips

By Kevin Kearns

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There's just not enough hours in the day. Many people, including myself, are guilty of complaining about it. However, we have the same amount of time in each day as Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, and many other effective people. We have enough time. We must simply protect it and spend it wisely. Benjamin Franklin once said, "Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that's the stuff life is made of." Great leaders have something in common; they make the most of their life by making the most of their time.

  1. Plan: Plan your work and work your plan! Putting forth the effort to plan your time will allow you to make educated decisions about how you spend your day. Even parts of your day that seemed out of your control can be planned. Marketing expert, Dan Kennedy, only returns phone calls on Wednesdays. His customers are informed of this and adjust their needs to this fact. Perhaps you are not in a position to make such a drastic planning practice - what planning changes can you make? Document your plan. Some people use a personal digital assistant (PDA), others use lists, and still others use a million little sticky notes. Whatever works for you, use it. If it doesn't work, use something else. Planning your work is only half the equation; you must work your plan! Remember to review past, present, and future priorities to make sure you are not missing an important task.

  2. Do Something, but not Anything: Productive procrastination can be the biggest thief of your time. You may be completing a lot of tasks, but are they the tasks you value most? Human potential guru, Brian Tracy, speaks on this point with a fishing analogy. You can catch a 100 minnows and not come close to the value of catching one whale. Use your time to accomplish the tasks that lead towards your most important results. When it comes to the use of your time, look at quality as opposed to quantity. Focused goal setting will help you distinguish between the minnows and the whales.

  3. Say No!: When asked for time - say no! We do not always have the power to say no to interruptions. Stuff happens. That is what makes the rest of the day so valuable. When asked, "got a minute?" - say no. When asked, "can you take on this extra project?" - say no. When finding yourself in non-productive chitchat - say no by walking away. I am very fond of the people I interact with on a daily basis. When it comes to non-productive chitchat, I am a repeat offender. Out of necessity, I developed an effective method of dealing with this issue. Friends and colleagues have witnessed this technique first hand. When I find myself in idle chatter, I simply say, "Hey, I have work to do, I can't talk to you all day." I say it in jest, but at the same time, it allows me to stop using time to chat instead of working.

  4. Pavlov Pressure: Technology is there to serve you, not the other way around. The phone rings - answer it. A fax comes in - read it. An e-mail bell goes off - zone in on the monitor. Much like Pavlov's dogs salivating to the sound of the food bell, many leaders react to technology without thinking. These pieces of equipment were developed to assist you, not control you. Stop letting such "time savers" steal your time. Consider planning scheduled time for phone calls, e-mails, and faxes into your day.

  5. Odd Hours: Come in early or stay late When people know you are at work, they know they can contact you. It only takes a few of these people before you realize that even brief interactions eat up valuable time. By coming in early or staying late, you avoid being on other people's radar screen. If they don't know you are there, they don't bother you. Uninterrupted time is priceless.

  6. Keep Score: Track where you are with high priority items. Know where you are concerning your priorities. Ask yourself some of these questions:

    How far along are you, when is the deadline?

    Has the priority level changed?

    Did I lose time for some reason?

    Am I still on track to complete the task on time?

    By knowing where you are, you can decide if you want to slow down, speed up, or simply stay the course. Also, pay close attention to time robbers detailed in tips 1-5 and measure their impact on your time.

  7. Celebrate: Reward yourself for making better use of your time. When you notice a significant improvement in how well you manage your time, take a moment to celebrate your progress. Even the smallest rewards can reinforce more of the preferred behavior. I know one manager who rewarded herself by adding 15 minutes of social time to her day. Once she was able control how she used her time, she actually planned some time to interact with peers and employees. She enjoyed the interactions and benefited from strengthened relationships, without the pressure of lost time.

    If these tips were able to add 12 minutes to each day; that would equal one hour per week; one hour per week adds up to approximately 50 hours per year. What would you accomplish with an additional workweek each year? Imagine if you could get an extra 20 minutes from every day. Perhaps people like Einstein, Edison, and Franklin did have more time in each day. The good news is so can you!

Kevin Kearns is President of Kearns Advantage (, a leadership coaching company. Kearns Advantage works with business leaders to define and improve results, guaranteed! Kevin holds a Master of Science degree in Organization Development and is a member of the Coachville Graduate School of Coaching. Kevin also mediates business disputes for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado.


Article Submitted On: February 04, 2005