Time Management 101: Part Three: 10 Practical Suggestions

We talked about time wasters and last week we talked about setting priorities. In today’s final time management post I would like to offer a few practical suggestions to take with you in your daily life. I am sure you know these already; but, if you are anything like me, a little reminder never hurts! 🙂


1. Make a List. At the end of your day or first thing in the morning, take a few minutes to go over the things you need to do and put them in order of importance.

2. Have everything you need. Make sure you have everything you need before starting your work (or project) so you do not have to waste time going back and forth looking for or getting what you need.

3. Stop procrastinating. When you get to your work desk, or wherever you are working, get right to the task at hand.  Easier said than done, I know. It takes discipline to stay away when Facebook or Twitter or email (or even the dishes!) is beckoning, to you. 🙂 You know this: putting things off wastes time and become a burden, so in the words of a famous footwear commercial, “Just Do It!”

4. Do first things first. In other words, try to do either the most important thing or your least favored thing first. If you get it out of the way early in the day, then you won’t have to worry about getting done.

5. Set time limits. Set a time limit for checking email, answering calls, and/or other projects and stick to it. Use a timer or your favorite time tracking software so you don’t waste more time then what you planned on. And, when the time goes off, STOP. Do not fall into the trap of  “one more email” or “one more minute to…”

6. Just say no. Yes, I know how difficult it is to say no sometimes; but, you do not HAVE to do everything someone asks you to do. At the very least, do not answer right away. Give yourself some space to decide how you want to respond.

7. Do one thing at a time. It may seem counter-productive (especially in this multi-taking society), but focusing on one task at a time is more productive and actually faster.

8. Ignore the phone and email. You do not have to answer every email as it comes in or answer the phone every time it rings. Set a specific time once or twice a day to check email and answer phone calls.

9. Delegate. Delegate, delegate, delegate. If you are not good at it, not jazzed about it, or do not HAVE to it yourself turn it over to an assistant or other professional. If you do not have an administrative professional, you may want to consider partnering with one.

10. Take a break. Finally, do not forget to take a break. No matter how busy a person is, we all need some time to recoup and rejuvenate.

I hope you find these tips to be useful. Now I would love to hear from you. Do you have your own time management tip to share? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

In case you want to print out these suggestions for future use, you can download the cheat sheet here. (Subscribers: go to your private page to access this sheet.)

Time Management 101: Part Two: Setting Priorities

So, last time we discovered our time wasters. Today I would like to talk about setting priorities and ridding yourself of those time wasters that are sucking out all  your time and energy.


When I was in the AssistU virtual training program, one thing we learned was the “absolute yes list.” Basically, having an “absolute yes list” means choosing two or three (no more than four) things that are most important to you, which then becomes the basis for all your decisions. These are your absolute top priorities from which all things flow. Mind you, this list will not be static. It can and should change as you and your needs change and grow.


So, how does having an “absolute yes list” benefit you and your time management? Because, every decision you make or opportunity that comes along will be tested against your list. For example, if your priorities are business related you can ask yourself:

  • Is this opportunity (or task or request) in line with my absolute yes list?
  • “Will this help me maintain my current relationships or foster new clients?”
  • Will doing this help my business or personal growth?
  • Do I really WANT to do this?

If you answer yes to these questions, then you will know that the task or opportunity is in line with your priorities and defintiely worth your time. If you say no to any (or all) of these questions, then it should raise a red flag in your mind and make you think twice about adding on that particular task or opportunity.

Now that you know what an “absolute yes list” is and the benefits of one, let’s create it. Take a few minutes to think about what your priorities are – personal and/or professional. Make a list of your top three or four. You can have separate lists for your personal and business life, like I do, or you can combine the two. They can also be as general or specific as you want.

To give you some ideas, let me tell you what is on my “absolute yes list.” My personal list includes faith, family and self-care. My professional list includes continuing education, finding part-time employment, and engaging in social media 10-15 minutes a day. Obviously, your list will (and should) differ from mine.

Once you have your list, take your notes from last time and compare the two. Everything that fits in with your “absolute yes” list keep, and everything that doesn’t, weed it out. Delegate it, cancel it or forget about it. Also, as you go throughout your day, keep your list in the forefront of your mind so you can continue the weeding out process.

Next week we will get into to some practical aspects of time management. We will discuss how to keep our priorities where they belong and how to create a schedule that works for you.


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Time Management 101: Part One: What are Your Time Wasters?

When I worked with my Virtual Assistant clients, the first thing I would have them do is spend three days writing down everything they do and how long it takes to do them. I mean EVERYTHING. Every phone call, every email that is written or responded to, everything. After the three days are up, we would spend some time going over the list; then we make a plan of all the things I can take off his or her plate.


Now, I do not expect you spend three days writing everything down; but, I do encourage you to sit down for 20-30 minutes writing down a list of all the things you are responsible for and how long it takes you to do them. After you’ve done this, ask yourself some questions:

  • Is doing this the best use of my time?
  • What are my biggest time wasters?
  • Am I doing the things I absolutely love doing? Or, am I doing the things I think I “have” to do or “should” be doing?
  • What tasks can I delegate?
  • How am I spending my free time?
  • Does this activity reflect my personal values and desires?
  • Are there any areas that I can cut from my schedule that will free up more time to do other things?
  • How much time do I spend time surfing the web or watching television? Can I scale down on these or other activities that will not disturb my overall quality of life?
  • Am I willing to get up earlier (or staying up later) garner more time for more important things?

By the time you finish this exeercise, you will have a clearer vision of those things that are draining you of your time and energy. Then, once you have an idea of your specific time wasters, go back over the list and weed out all the “little things” that you can easily delete or delegate. You may be surprised by how much time you will gain just by weeding out these little things.

In the next installment, I will offer a couple of  suggestions for setting priorities and implementing a plan so that you do not get sucked back into those time wasters again.


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