From Taking the Mystery Out of Business

About Time Management:

Each of us has the same twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week, and 365 days in a year. Why, then, do so many people feel they have less time than everyone else?

Probably because they’re not managing their time as effectively as they could.

Here’s a clue: if you’re constantly canceling or rescheduling events and appointments, you’re not managing your time well. People who manage their time proficiently always have room in their schedules for additional events and people.

If time gets away from you and you never seem to have enough of it, the first thing you need to do—literally—is keep track of how long it takes you to do everything you do. Get yourself a notebook and, for one week, jot down the beginning and ending times of each and every one of your daily activities.

When the alarm goes off in the morning, do you hit the snooze button or do you hop right out of bed? If you hit the snooze button, how many times do you do it? Your notebook needs to know.

Do you jump in the shower, make a pot of coffee, take the dog out, sit in front of the television, check your e-mail, get the kids off to school? Your notebook wants all the details—and the time spent for each of these undertakings.

When you arrive at work, do you spend time chatting in the break room with your co-workers? Do you make another pot of coffee? Do you boot up your computer and check your voice mail at the same time? Your notebook has an inquiring mind.

Throughout the day, share with your notebook the precise number of minutes you spend on Facebook, checking your personal e-mail, making phone calls, chatting with customers, processing paperwork, conducting sales interviews, disciplining employees, filing your nails, participating in the football pool, running errands for the boss, working on payroll, etc.

You’ll be amazed at the amount of time you spend doing nothing, or stuff that amounts to nothing, or stuff that isn’t productive.

This is something I do two or three times a year. When I find myself feeling pressed by time, the culprit is always those time wasters. I’ve gotten so good at identifying them, it usually takes me less than a day to get myself back on track.

Don’t regard yourself as a slacker and don’t view the process as punishment. We’re human and we’d much rather do fun stuff than work stuff. Sometimes we need a little push. Sometimes we need a kick in the behind. I’d much rather kick myself than have someone else do it.

In no special order, here are some other activities that waste a lot of your time—and tips to help you get back on track.

(c) 2011 Linda M. Faulkner - All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the author.