Use time wisely: Today's minutes won't keep until tomorrow
by DAVE BENAK
So, how will you spend the 86,400 seconds you received today? No
one can take them away from you. They're yours. You have the power
to do anything you want with them. If you use less than your
allotted 86,4000 you can't carry them into tomorrow. And there's no
way you can borrow from tomorrow to use more than 86,400.While
86,400 sure sounds like a lot, why does it never seem to be
Well, we can't change the amount of time we have
each day but we can change the way we look at it to be more
efficient. Using some basic time management tips, we can start to
control our time and not allow it to control us:
1) Plan. Use some of that 86,400 to devise a way
that works best for you. Dump the "shoulds" and use whatever tools
you need - however unorthodox or cumbersome they may seem to others.
Your success is grounded in the quality of your plan and how well it
organizes and distributes your workload.
2) Set Goals. How you spend your time is
dictated by the direction that you give it through carefully worded
objectives. Decide your outcome first and then set the specific,
measurable, realistic and achievable goals to get there. Set optimum
goals that make you stretch but not break.
3) Prioritize. Remember the 80-20 Rule? (That 80
percent of the reward comes from 20 percent of the effort?) Isolate
the 20 percent that gives you the greatest reward and concentrate
your time on those efforts.
4) List. With the acceleration of multi-tasking,
it's important to always know what you're supposed to be doing next.
A "to-do" list automatically tells you what's most important because
you've incorporated your priorities and deadlines into it. Find a
"To-Do" list that works best for you: a running list that's
constantly being updated; a daily list made up at the start of the
day; or a combination of both.
5) Flex. To create time for interruptions and
distractions, plan half of your time. You'll have 50 percent that
gives you the flexibility to respond to unplanned needs and
emergencies while completing necessary routine tasks. The other 50
percent (and more if you have it) can be devoted to the higher
priorities from your "to-do" list.
6) Shine in prime time. When are you at your
best? Late night? Early in the morning? Mid-day? Make your
biological clock work for you - dedicate your best time of day to
your priority projects.
7) Do the right thing. Management guru Peter
Drucker says "doing the right thing is more important than doing
things right." Focus first on effectiveness (identifying the right
thing to do), then concentrate on efficiency (doing it
8) Reduce urgency. Identify those items on your
"to do" list that could turn into emergencies by highlighting them
or attaching a deadline. When you diminish the urgency, you increase
time for more important long-term, goal-related priorities.
9) Terminate the trivial. Work on tasks that you
alone can do. Delegate or eliminate those that are trivial and/or
have no long-term consequences.
10) Shun perfectionism. Some things need to be
closer to perfection than others, but don't procrastinate by paying
unnecessary attention to detail. When something is made in the
Malaysian culture, a flaw is purposely left in so the gods won't be
11) Conquer procrastination. Getting started can
feel daunting with a realization that it all can't be done at once.
(If it could all be done at once, you'd have a lot less trouble
getting started, right?) Try breaking a big task into smaller ones
or working on the big task for just 15 minutes. By doing a little at
a time, you'll eventually reach a point where you'll want to
12) Say "no." Two letters. Only one syllable.
And it's so hard to say. First, re-convince yourself that you and
your priorities are important. Then it's easier to say "no" to the
unimportant things. Focus on your goals. Block time for important
unscheduled priorities such as family and friends.
13) Pare down paperwork. Be proactive, not
reactive. Don't let it pile up. Stay current. Once you get behind,
it's very hard to catch up.
14) Reward yourself. Celebrate the achievement
of any goal. Promise yourself a reward for completing each task or
finishing a total job. Then indulge. Doing so helps to maintain the
necessary balance between work and play, making your work more
enjoyable and efficient.
15) Save your sanity. You cannot please 100
percent of the people 100 percent of the time. Including
16) Destroy time wasters. I've found the biggest
offenders to be clutter and disorganization, under-estimating the
time required to complete a job, pointless meetings, vague lines of
responsibility and authority, fatigue, unclear communication or
instruction and indecision.
86,400 seconds. That's a lot. The clock is
ticking. Time is money. Wasting one is wasting the other.
Dave Benak is a retired training director who
lives in Vancouver. He teaches leadership, management and
supervision at Clark College and owns and operates "TrainingPays."
He can be reached at (360) 944-7571 or