General Time Management Tips

- Become a Dedicated Note Taker to Save Time -

Use a memory bucket (daily journal) where you note information you’ll need at some time in the future. Avid note taking saves time in a number of ways, including eliminating the need to check back with people and eliminating the fear of forgetting things. It also eliminates misunderstandings that might consume time. A great tool to use for note taking is a Day-Timer Journal.

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- Avoid Time–Debt! -

Like financial debt, too much time-debt can be a heavy burden to bear. You get yourself into time-debt by saying “yes” to too many future commitments. In actuality, saying “yes” to a future commitment is a verbal promissory note. Promising away your future creates stress. You know at some point those time commitments to other people will come due. Can you keep your promise? Do you really want to? It all hangs over your head.

Make it a point to be as frugal with your time as you are with your money. Respond to requests for your time honestly. If you know you don’t intend to or just plain can’t keep the time-promise then graciously decline the commitment. Maybe you don’t know if you’ll have time. Be honest about that too. Say something like, “I’d like to help you with that and right at this moment I’m not just sure how my schedule will play out with some projects I already have going. Can I get back with you?” In this way you’ve offered to consider the request based on your own personal time needs.

Be generous with your time, yes, but avoid the needless stress of time-debt.

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- Counter-Point Time Management -

Do you get stressed waiting in lines? Or, maybe traffic congestion is driving you crazy. Try counterpoint time management. It’s simple. Plan to grocery shop, run errands, go to lunch and commute at different times than the masses do. It will save you time. One executive found by leaving fifteen minutes earlier for work, it saved him thirty minutes on the other end.

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- Time Saving Tip of The Month -

Want to Avoid Time Crunches? Go Faster than Time!

We can’t make time speed up and we can’t make time slow down. We can, however, go faster than time. Go faster than time by deciding what events you want to occur on future dates. You can do that by describing them as written objectives – long range goals. Then, plan and execute the actions that will make your planned future events materialize – intermediate goals. In this way you can get out in front of time.

People who are in control of their lives maximize this advantage. People who are out of control don’t. They find themselves in a time crunch. They let time overtake them by starting the above process too late. It’s called procrastination.

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- Re-Cycle Paper, Not Time -

Many people go back in time mentally. They waste both energy and time by focusing upon unhappy past events. If this is you, consider a resolution to break this time wasting habit. Consummate time managers focus upon future possibilities not past problems.

There is an exception to this rule. It's found in this line from the song, Times of Your Life, by Paul Anka. The poetic words are, "Memories are times that we borrow to spend when we get to tomorrow." Recycle the good time memories not the bad time miseries. You have the power to do it and you'll be happier and more productive.

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- Time Saving Tip of The Month -

Enrich Your Time! Discover the Joys of Curiosity

I remember the day I was reminded about the joys of curiosity. I was hiking with my best friend. We hit the trail early in the morning. That's the best time to smell nature's perfume and feel the gentle warmth of the sun's morning rays. We had a great hike. On our return in the early afternoon, as we rounded the last bend, I could see the canyon road and my parked car. I glanced at my watch and noticed it was 2:00 p.m. The exact time I planned to finish my hike. I felt a rush of pride about my ability to manage my time and always do everything on a schedule.

As we reached the road, my friend glanced toward the creek. There sitting on the edge of the water was a mutual friend - Ardean Watts, the director of music at our local university. We shouted, "Hey Ardean! What are you doin'?" He motioned for us to come over. "Look," he said. "Get down here really close. See? I'm watching a spider spinning its web." I was taken aback and a little bit envious. I couldn't remember the last time I watched a spider spinning its web, but I know I was a child. How about you?

Curiosity, like spontaneity, can lace our life with microbursts of joy. It's a natural skill we all had when we were children. We can practice the skill anytime, anyplace.

Curiosity keeps us plugged into life and enriches our time. Look for a curiosity opportunity every chance you have.

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- Is There still time in Your Life -

Still time is that time when we find a place of solitude, shut out the world, turn off the TV, relax, think and plan. If we don't take the time to be alone and reflect we will miss countless solutions to challenges as well as creative ideas. It's during still time when our mind and heart are free for creative thinking.

Still time usually doesn't just happen, life is too complex. Arrange for still time and begin to enjoy the benefits today. You deserve it.

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- Playing Tag as a Child Was Fun. Telephone Tag is NOT! -

For sure, playing telephone tag is a time-waster. So why play? Make a change by setting telephone appointments and honoring them. If you can't take the time to talk with somebody who just called you, say so and set an appointment to call them back, rather than just say, "I'll call you back."

When responding to voicemail, don't just leave a message, leave the best time to reach you. And above all, avoid irritating others by saying your number so fast that it's hard to understand, forcing them to waste time by replaying your message over and over to get your number.

These simple tips not only save time, they are good manners.

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- Use the Direct Approach to Save Your Time -

For years, time management experts have suggested non-verbal communication techniques to end overlong phone calls and office visits. With some people they work, with some they don’t.  The direct approach always works. When somebody engages you, call their attention to your schedule, and set a front time limit. When the agreed-upon time has expired, it’s easier to end the visit. How simple is this? But very infrequently done!

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- Know Somebody Who "Spins Their Wheels" at Work? -

They are on the slippery slope of indecisiveness. Indecisiveness is the enemy of getting started. Similar to a car in neutral which can’t go anywhere until it’s in gear, indecisiveness puts you in neutral-time. What’s the best way to stop “spinning wheels” and “get in gear?” First, take the time to create clarity of purpose. Set specific goals that can be broken down into daily actions. Then prioritize the actions. Clarity is the mother of decisiveness

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- Are You An Interrupter? -

Much has been written about the skill of controlling interruptions from others. Not much has been written about the skill of not interrupting others. Respecting the time of others not only promotes efficiency it helps reduce stress in the work environment. Consummate time managers respect the time of others as much as their own and interrupt only when absolutely necessary. It’s the mark of a professional.

If you want to break the habit of interrupting others, make a game of it. See how long you can go without interrupting. Catch yourself when you are tempted. You’ll be more efficient and your co-workers will too.

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- Add Power to your Life with a To Do List -

A to do list connotes procrastination because it’s only a list of intentions. To be effective, build a results list at the beginning of each day and label it results list! This is a list of outcomes you will create with the investment of your time and energy. Make the listed results absolutely specific. For example, “call twenty clients”, not “call clients”.

At the end of the day you’ll have measureable results for your effort. You will also feel a sense of self management power because you were effective. Power is the ability to produce effect. Power is the ability to get results. Make each day a powerful day with results lists. --Trapper Woods
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- You Can Have the Best of Both Planning Times -

Some will agree the best time to plan your day is early in the morning. That way, your mind has had a chance to incubate ideas during the night. Also you’ll be more refreshed. Others say the best time to plan is the night before. You’ll be under less pressure. Then when you arise you’ll be able to hit the street running.

One of our clients uses a different approach and for him it is very effective. He said “I split my planning time. I spend fifteen minutes creating an initial plan the night before, and then I validate it with fifteen more minutes of planning in the morning.” That way he capitalizes on the benefits of both morning and evening planning. Do you like the idea? --Trapper Woods
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- Activities Rule, Not The Clock! -

An activity is something we do. An activity is the basic unit of our life’s design. Results are determined by the activities we choose and how we arrange to get them done.

How well do you choose and arrange your daily activities? In business, select activities that are essential for the existence, continuation, and the well-being of your organization or your family. Avoid trivial activities.

Here are four activity selection questions you can apply on a daily basis.
1. Is this activity a step toward the achievement of a goal?
2. Is this activity a good time investment?
3. If I don’t do the activity, who will it affect and will anyone suffer?
4. Is the activity necessary for the existence, continuation or well-being of the organization?

Knowing what to choose and what to refuse is what it’s about. Activities rule, not the clock. The clock is nothing more than a measurement tool. Learn to be a good activity chooser!

--Trapper Woods
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- Leverage Your Mind! Use it for Thinking, not Remembering -

There is not only more to do these days, but more to remember. When your mind is cluttered with things you are trying to remember, it is not as free to focus on vital work activities.

Solution? Pick a time management tool that works best for you (either paper or electronic.) Then, be meticulous about entering all appointments, dates, deadlines, and important information.

Make it a habit to carry it with you and let the tool do your remembering for you. Freeing your mind this way should help you increase your focus and reduce stress. --Trapper Woods
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- Personal Productivity Tip -

Want to accelerate your personal productivity? Use blank spaces of time well. A blank space of time is anytime you are waiting for others or you are put on hold for any reason. Perhaps you are waiting for a meeting to start. Blank spaces can be used in two general ways.

One, use them to complete mini tasks that might take only a few minutes. Always have something with you that you could be working on or carry an article with you to read.

Or two, use them to manage your energy level. It often takes only five minutes or so to win back energy. Change a routine; take a walk around the building, do stretching or some deep breathing. These techniques can work wonders. It’s just as important to manage your energy as it is to manage your time. Blank spaces of time are golden opportunities. Don't let them go to waste.
--Trapper Woods
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