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Using Time Effectively

By Robert Stalbaum

Did you know that the average number of interruptions per workday is 11, and that each interruption averages 15 minutes in length? That is almost three hours per day of wasted time! Would you believe that 67% of all business people spend two hours or more a week simply trying to reach others by phone without success?

Time is one of our most precious commodities yet, most people value lost time vaguely — if at all. To be successful, you have to learn to quantify the financial value of time by factoring it into every decision you make. Here are some tips that should prove helpful:

1. DEVELOP A GENERAL WORK SCHEDULE THAT PUTS YOU IN CONTROL OF YOUR DAY/WEEK.

• Schedule only 60 to 70% of your work hours.

• Divide your day into public and private sectors. (Public activities should include meetings, phone calls, etc. Private activities include paperwork, writing reports, reading, and the like.)

• Allow for creative time. The higher up the organizational ladder you are, the more that you must allow for creative thinking and problem solving.

• Know your own personal work habits and patterns, and schedule important meetings and work during the times that you function best.

• Use time that would otherwise be "dead-time" (such as waiting in a doctor's office or at the airport) to catch up on reading, etc.

• Schedule anticipated stress.

• Schedule time off for yourself.

2. PLAN OUT YOUR DAILY ACTIVITIES.

Know what you have to do and when you have to do it.

• Plan your next day at the end of the previous day. When you are commuting to work each day, think out what you want to accomplish during the day. On the way home from work, put your day into perspective.

• Get into the habit of making a "Things To Do" list for daily and weekly activities.

2. SET PRIORITIES.
Since all items on your daily list are not equal in importance, you must set priorities and match your commitment of time and resources to the relative importance of each task.

• Number each activity according to its significance. When you start working, start with task #1, and stay with it until it is done.

• Never schedule more than 3 or 4 priority items during one day.

4. STAY FOCUSED.
One reason so few individuals achieve what they truly want is that they never direct their focus.

• Learn to judge every activity in terms of whether it brings you closer to your goals. Take "inventory" once in a while. Are things going the way that you want them to?

• Ask yourself several times a day "Is this the most important thing that I could be doing right now?" If not, change.

• You must learn to recognize the difference between what is pressing and what is important. Relationship building, planning and new business development are the areas where you should be spending your time.

• If you need to, keep a time log until you start to understand how you are spending your days.

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