Managing time extends it


February 21, 1993|By Niki Scott | Niki Scott,Universal Press Syndicate

If you feel like the White Rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland" -- always late, late for a very important date! -- you're not alone. One of the questions I'm most frequently asked by managers is "How can I find more hours in the day? There never seem to be enough!"

Here are 13 steps toward managing your time so well that you'll think you've found more hours in each day:

* Take a good long look at your long-range goals. Make sure they're specific and achievable -- and have concrete deadlines. If you don't know what you want to accomplish in the years ahead, you won't be able to manage your time effectively in the months ahead.

* Chart a detailed daily, weekly and monthly course. Get in the habit of keeping a calendar and checking it every day, week and month -- and save your old ones so you can see how your time has been spent.

* Keep a careful record throughout the day for two to four weeks of how -- exactly! -- you spend each half-hour of your time at work. Remember: This record is for your eyes only; be brutally honest!

* Keep track of how much time you spend on important, high-payoff activities, and how much you spend on low-payoff tasks that could be delegated -- or eliminated.

* Get a clear picture of self-sabotaging habits. How do you waste time? Are you indecisive? Disorganized? Easily distracted? A perfectionist? A procrastinator? A social butterfly? A detail junkie? What?

* Get in touch with your inner clock, too. What's your most productive time of day? Why?

* Ask yourself at the end of each day: "What did I accomplish today -- specifically?" and "What did I fail to accomplish -- and why?" Also ask yourself: "What went right today -- and why?" and "What went wrong today -- and why?"

* Learn to assert yourself. If you constantly say "yes" to other people's demands on your time, you'll never have enough left over to accomplish your own goals.

* Control interruptions. Refuse to allow telephone calls or drop-in visits to dictate how much you accomplish each day. Just say, "I can't talk now; I'll get back to you later."

* Allow time for breaks. Good little mice who slave through coffee breaks and eat lunch at their desks every day don't necessarily accomplish any more in the long run than colleagues who give their brains and bodies time to relax and refuel.

* Make sure you know what's expected of you. If you don't understand your boss's instructions at first, ask questions until you do -- then repeat back what you think she said to make sure you've got it right.

* Cut out all unnecessary duplication. If you write the same letters to various clients, put one form on your computer. If you're sending the same memo to several people, use carbons so you only have to write it once. And if you're writing too many letters, ask your secretary to make phone calls instead.

* Finally, don't waste time stewing about what you're not getting done. If you begin to feel overwhelmed by a project, stop and break it into small, manageable pieces, or if you're paralyzed in the face of a too-heavy workload in general -- and can document it -- consider requesting help, perhaps on a temporary basis.

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