13 Ways to Make More Time
"Sometimes I get the feeling
the two biggest problems
are making ends meet and making meetings end."
This writer and marketer is not a time management expert. Far from
it. Yet, I've learned from others - and practiced getting the most out
of my time. Do I always do what I'm going to talk about here? Of course
not! Frequently I catch myself doing what I want to do vs.
what I truly need to do. The fun stuff first.
Still, being a Type A workaholic has it's benefits. One being you
get to meet more people and learn more things. There is a downside
... sometimes clients, associates and family suffer.
So, let's talk about time. Not just meeting time, as Robert Orben
is doing in the quote above. All time. And how to make more of it
Time Idea #1 Keep Track of How You Spend Time
Most agencies have a time or record system. So they know where the
time goes on a client or project.
Time Idea #1 is you do that for you. Certainly at the office. At home,
too, if it fits. An every 15 minute time sheet is close enough. For
whatever categories make sense. At the office by duty or happening,
such as telephone calls, E-mail reading, web surfing. Include breaks
and travel. And, of course, meetings.
Once a week or so total and summarize all ... and know you will be
Time Idea #2 "No" is an Answer!
No matter how good you are at juggling duties and opportunities, you
can't do everything. No one can.
Yes, most of us like to say "yes" to something new or different
or unusual. To a friend, to help out, to be charge. Yet, that is not
always the right answer.
Know that an acceptable answer for some things is "no".
Maybe it is "no" now, or "no" until next Tuesday.
Still, "no" is sometimes the right answer. Be willing to
Time Idea #3 Schedule Time to Organize
Eons ago a sales training session taught me to set aside time to get
ready for sales calls. To plan. To organize. It may have been the
most important lesson from that set.
Each day takes some organization. Some like to think things through
on a daily basis. They take 30-60 minutes tonight and plan for tomorrow.
Or they do the same each morning for the next 24 hours. Others see
things 7-10-14 ... even 30 days out.
My diary today is electronic. Although I still print and carry a trusty
paper version with me. With notes, phone numbers, addresses and other
How you do it is not important. That you schedule time to get organized
Time Idea #4 Think on Paper - set Written Objectives
If it's not in writing it's not real. And there's a good chance it
will not happen. Whatever your plan, put it in writing.
Your objectives on paper are no different than a grocery story shopping
list. It's a reminder - as much as a commitment. Writing also forces
you to think things through. What's first, second ... what comes next?
Where have I been - where am I going? That type thinking - put in
writing - keeps you on track.
In my life, if it's not writing it does not exist. Think on paper
- it works.
Time Idea #5 Focus on Starting
Before you achieve you must begin. So, focus on the start - not the
finish. Finishing will come ... only if you begin.
If it's a project you have your objectives - in writing on paper.
If it's a meeting you have an agenda, with a laundry list of "to
do's ...". Often starting at an "offbeat" time helps,
too. 8:55am or 2:20pm for a meeting, rather than on the hour or half
If it's a new project - getting a running start over a weekend frequently
works. Your mind is clear, the phone isn't ringing, your E-mail count
is down ... and you concentrate. On getting started.
Time Idea #6 ... and Keep Moving
Once you get going you've got to keep going. Any direction is better
than "sitting", waiting for something to happen. You must
Still, part of you plan includes a finish time. Somewhere out there
you must get to where you are headed. And ... it is okay to finish
early! Not just on time - early.
Of course, "finish" needs to be defined up-front. A guy
in my life is a contractor - builds houses. It is interesting listening
to Charlie talk about his definition of "finish", vs. that
of the owner of the home. Start. Keep moving. And finish what you
Time Idea #7 Learn Speed-Reading
Close to 4 decades ago I was introduced to speed-reading. One of the
great things learned. And one I highly recommend.
Why? Well, because you would be further along in this article right
now, if you knew how to spin through and get the highlights important
to you. Meaning you'd have more time to do something else important
in your life. Whatever that is.
Part of speed-reading is reading only what's important. Look at the
table of contents of a magazine and tear out only the articles you're
really interested in. Turn only the pages of the newspaper sections
you care about.
Read for content that will take you where you want to be.
Time Idea #8 Go Faaaast!
Now that you know how to speed-read, think about doing everything
This means reading your mail and E-mail, and responding quicker. This
means walking faster (it does not mean driving!). This means
holding faster meetings ... try having a stand-up meeting, they always
end quicker. This means scheduling yourself - not so tight you can't
breath - tight enough to keep moving.
This also means not reading magazines, newspapers, newsletters, E-zines
you no longer find worth the effort. S T O P doing what's not getting
you where you need to be - and you'll have more time to do what is
leading you to your objectives.
Time Idea #9 Need to Know ... Nice to Know ... None of your
There are things you need to know. And then some things that would
be nice, yet not needed. And then there are things that are none of
Guess what? Same thoughts apply to everyone. Meaning not everyone
needs to know everything. Save time by not copying everyone on everything
A couple of clients taught me this in spades. We were in the habit
if sending copies of documents to a long list of "contacts"
inside the client. Soon one, then two, and then more said "enough".
So, we cut the list, organized our time better, and saved time for
the other guys.
Time Idea #10 Use Travel Time
Get organized to be on the road. Make a list, check it twice - make
at least 2 copies ... one for you and one for the office.
This approach also allows you to do things while you're traveling.
In a taxi, airplane, bus, train - waiting in line ... whatever ...
have something to do. A cell phone will allow you to stay in touch,
while out of touch. A collection from your "reading" file
in your brief case will allow you to catch up while waiting.
A client report that needs a revise - scratch your notes while you
wait. Standing or sitting and doing nothing, while you wait on someone
to do their thing, is a big waste of time for you. Use all your time
- including your travel and wait time.
Time Idea #11 Plan Play Time, too
Unless you're independently wealthy you work to live. Well, you should
also work to play.
Just as you have a work schedule, I strongly recommend you have a
play schedule. Plan and organize your family and friends deeds, activities
and vacations - and book them on your calendar, too.
Sometimes you can mix work and play together. Since being in business
for myself I have made considerably less money then before - and had
a whale of a lot more time to be with my family. To ride my Harley.
To try several new activities. To make a speaking trip, and hang around
afterwards for a little holiday.
Take time to "live." It will make the rest of your life
just that much better.
Time Idea #12 Plan for "Whoops!"
Know matter how good you are, how much you think and organize, not
everything will work the way you plan. Not every time. That's life.
"Whoops" happen. Sometimes it's another person who doesn't
do what they say, when they say. Sometimes something "breaks".
Sometimes there is a true emergency. So, you need to know this. And
be prepared with "Plan B". Maybe a fail-safe action. Maybe
you back-up and start again. Or go another direction. Or walk a different
path. Or change your focus. You do whatever it takes.
Just know that your time is not always your time. "Whoops"
Time Idea #13 Know "Perfection" Costs
Perfect isn't always needed. Desired, hoped for, wished, wanted, nice
... not needed.
Sometimes it's just not worth the effort, time, money, people to make
something "perfect". The benefits don't match the resources
My entire life I've been blessed with excellent cooks. Being how it
is I like to eat, that is a good thing. Most often the dishes served
at my house are outstanding. A low rating would be "good".
Yet, not every meal is "perfect". For whatever reason -
the spice was too much, or not enough. The onion to hot, or without
flavor. The soup with a tad too much, or too little, salt. Green peppers
were substituted for red. Water for milk. Corn tortillas for flour.
And you know ... it really rarely matters. Make the most of
your time - know that "perfection" costs.
Well, that's it ... 13 Ways to Make More Time. To save time,
you may want to make a list of this list. And post it where you see
it every so often. Whatever you do, know you and I have the same amount
of time. It's all how we use it that makes the difference.