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Professionals

Five Strategies To Help You Make the Most of Your Time
By Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

If you can recapture a wasted hour here and there and redirect it to a more productive use, you can make great increases in your daily productivity and the quality of your life.

Here are five techniques you can use, each of which will help you get at least one more hour out of your day for additional productive time:

1. Run an Interruptions Log. The average person gets 50 interruptions a day. The average interruption takes five minutes. Some five hours each day are spent dealing with interruptions. Many are crucial and are what we are paid to do, but many have little or no value. Run an Interruptions Log to identify and eliminate the wasteful interruptions.

On a pad labeled “Interruptions Log,” create six columns: Date, Time, Who, What, Length and Rating. After each interruption is dealt with, log in the date and time it occurred, who brought it to you, a word or two about what it related to, the length of time it took and, finally, the rating of its importance (“A” for crucial, “B” for important, “C” for little value and “D” for no value).

Maintain this log for a week or more to get a good measure of what is happening in your life, then evaluate the results and take action to eliminate some of the “C” and “D” interruptions that have little or no value.

2. Delegate it. We all have 168 hours each week. When you subtract 56 hours for sleep and an additional 10 hours for personal care, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to complete what needs to be done. Delegation permits you to leverage your own time through others and thereby increase your own results.

The hardest part of delegation, though, is simply letting you. We take great pride in doing things ourselves; just look at the saying, “if you want a job done well, you better do it yourself.”

Every night, while planning the next day, look at all you have to do and want to do that day. For each item, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” If it is, do it. If it isn’t, try to delegate it to someone else.

There is a lot of difference between “I do it” and “It gets done.”

3. Manage Meetings. A meeting is when two or more people get together to exchange common information. What could be simpler? Yes, meetings can be one of the biggest time-wasters we must endure.

Before a meeting, ask, “Is it necessary?” And, “Am I necessary (to the meeting)?” If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” consider eliminating the meeting or excusing yourself from attending.

If the meeting will be held, prepare a written agenda with times assigned for each item, including a starting time and an ending time. Circulate the agenda among those who will be attending. There is no sense in holding a meeting by ambush; let people know in advance what is to be discussed.

4. Handle Paper. It’s easy to get buried today in the blizzard of paperwork around us. The average person receives around 150 communications each day by e-mail, telephone, fax, regular mail, memos, circulars, etc. A lot of time is wasted going through the same pile day after day and correcting mistakes when things slip through the cracks.

Try to handle the paper once and be done with it. If it is something that can be done in a minute or two, do it and be done. If it is not the best use of your time, delegate it. If it is going to take some time to complete, schedule ahead in your calendar on the day you think you might get to it, then put it away.

5. Run a Time Log. If you want to manage it, you have to measure it. A Time Log is a simple, yet powerful, tool to create an overview of how your time is actually being spent during the day.

Simply make an ongoing record of your time as you spend it. Record the activity, the time spent on it and a rating of A, B, C or D (as in the Interruptions Log). Some examples of how your time may be spent: made telephone calls, 35 minutes, A; answered e-mails, 48 minutes, B; attended staff meeting, 55 minutes, C.

Maintain this log for a few days to get a good picture of how your time is being spent, then analyze the information. Add up all the A, B, C and D time. Most people discover that a lot of their time is being spent on items that have little or no value. Take action to reduce the C and D items to give you more time for the really important things in your life.

Editor's Note: Dr. Donald E. Wetmore, a professional member of the National Speakers Association, founded the Productivity Institute Time Management Seminars. If you would like to receive a free copy of his humorous article, "You Just Might Be a Workaholic," e-mail your request for "might" to: ctsem@msn.com. Also, would you like to receive free Timely Time Management Tips on a regular basis to increase your personal productivity and get more out of every day? Sign up now for the free "TIME MANAGEMENT DISCUSSION LIST." Just go to: www.topica.com/lists/timemanagement and select "subscribe." Address: Dr. Donald W. Wetmore, professional speaker, Productivity Institute Time Management Seminars, 60 Huntington Street, P.O. Box 2126, Shelton, CT 06484; (800) 969-3773, (203) 929-9902, fax (203) 929-8151, e-mail ctsem@msn.com, www.balancetime.com.


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