Ten Tips for Time Mastery

By Linda Henman, PhD.

  1. Don’t over schedule.  Leave time in every day for unexpected events because almost every day brings at least one. In addition to having more control of your day, you’ll reduce stress.
  2. Set 30/ 60/ 90 day SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time sensitive) goals for your personal and professional life.  Activities that don’t support these goals don’t go on the calendar.  Set weekly goals that support these.
  3. Don’t over commit. Just say “no” to charities, committees, meetings, or activities that don’t directly support a personal or professional goal.
  4. Prioritize each day.  Separate important from unimportant and urgent tasks, and do first things first.  Unless you are expecting an emergency phone call, turn off your cell phone.  Use it for outgoing calls, on your schedule, so you can stick to your priorities.
  5. Eat the frog first.  If there’s an unpleasant task you must accomplish, do it first. You’ll have more energy and focus once the unpleasant or difficult task is complete.
  6. Know what you’re doing. Analyze current uses of time and energy—yours and that of others on your team—to determine whether you are spending time on critical issues that drive your goals and support your priorities.  Then schedule your hardest or least favorite tasks for high energy times.
  7. Follow the 80/20 rule.  Realize that 20% of your efforts drive 80% of your results.  Identify the 20% of people who support you, the 20% of activities that drive your goals, and the 20% of training you need and then eliminate the other 80% of each.
  8. Get organized.  Have a sense of where and how information is stored; be able to locate materials quickly; have a system so your assistant or someone else can find things; and routinely clean out files and throw outdated material away.
  9. Delegate to the lowest possible level with the authority to accomplish the task. Then, don’t allow people to copy you on emails, ask to make decisions they are accountable for, or otherwise interrupt you “for just a minute” to discuss something they should be handling.
  10. Buy time.  Use helpful new technologies or support people to do the things you aren’t good at, don’t like, or don’t want to do.  When you lead with your passion, work is more enjoyable, and you’ll accomplish more.

2 Responses to “Ten Tips for Time Mastery”

  1. Josef says:

    Makes common sense, that is if there is such a thing as common sense. Anyone, using your ten tips would do well with managing their time so it your tips are worthy of the “substance” lable. What I don’t see here, however, is the reference to doing one thing at a time which was the main theme when I was taking my first courses in project management. What are your recommendations in this regard?

  2. Josef says:

    I should appologize for just adding a stream of consciousness comment. That was inappropriate. How I should have phrsed the question was, “How do interpret multitasking in terms of time mastery?” When I was taking the courses I spoke earlier, there was a huge emphasis on Theory of Constraints with linear processing of task as the most efficient time saving techniques. You have added a great deal more by what I would term common sense assignment, daily prioritzation and taking advantage of available technology.

    I believe that multitasking can actually work in the right situations, e.g. catch up on reading while waiting for a meeting; but it can quickly break down when switching between task where one has to re-iniatialize left-off activities.

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