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Effective Time Management

One key way to ensure that you concentrate on the right things and achieve excellence is to discuss and agree on them with your colleagues or immediate supervisor.

You should know the following:

The purpose of the job. If possible, this should be able to be stated in a single sentence starting with “To … .” For example, “To ensure effective job site preparation” is one possibility.

The measures of success. Understand how you and your colleagues will decide whether you are good at your job or not. Learn the key targets to be achieved and how achievement will be measured.

The definition of excellence. Find out what this is and work out how to achieve it.

The priorities and deadlines. You need to know this so that when you are overloaded with work, you will know where to put your focus.

Available resources. This ensures that you are using all the tools at your command.

The budget. These are the boundaries within which you can operate.

How you relate to your colleagues. This is the broader realm within which you work.

If you have, learn, understand and act on this knowledge, you will know how to do your job in precisely the right way. And by knowing what excellence is, you can plan to achieve it using all the resources you have available.

Here are 13 time-management tips:

  1. Make a commitment to yourself today to make time for something you really want to do.
  2. Make daily and monthly “To Do” lists. Be sure you keep the completed lists and analyze them closely.

  3. Don’t let negative attitudes or opinions limit your activity.

  4. If humanly possible, handle paperwork only once; answer it or throw it out, or delegate it each day so that it doesn’t pile up. Keep the use of “suspense” files to an absolute minimum.

  5. Deal with unpleasant but important matters as they arise. They rarely get more pleasant by being postponed.

  6. Try to set routine times for jobs such as going through the mail, talking with your manager or staff, computer input, etc.

  7. Try to set definite times when you would not like to be disturbed, and make the system work except for genuine emergencies.

  8. If you have several calls to make, do them all in one time period.

  9. Make a brief note of what you want to say and learn for each call.

  10. Plan some time for discussing routine matters with your colleagues. Then you can avoid interrupting each other all the time.

  11. Learn to say “No” or “Yes, but … .” Ask yourself if you are the right person for a particular job. Of course, you may be the only one available to do it.

  12. Finish the main job of the day before you go home.

  13. Ask people who come to you with problems to propose their own solutions.

About the Author

L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute, Yakima, Wash. See his ad on page 86.

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