Top 10 Time Management Tips


In true David Letterman style, we’re starting from no. 10 and working our way down to the No. 1  time management tip.

No. 10 –  Clear Your Desk

Why is this important?

  • When you think about it clutter makes it hard for you to find what needs to be done,

  • It also creates clutter in your mind.  Try de-cluttering and see what it does to your concentration levels.

  • Hard to find specific information when you’re looking for it.  So it’s best to file away each bit of paper once you’re finished with it rather than leave it in a pile to file later.

  • Keep a minimum of essential items on desk – you can better focus on the task at hand, which means fewer distractions.

No. 9 – Prioritise your work:

You can save at least 2 hours a day simply by applying this method

Make a list of top 10 things that need to be done every day.  This forces you to do the most important tasks necessary for that day, this helps you avoid spending time on un-necessary tasks.

  • Identify time-wasters – this would help you avoid these in the future.  Some time wasters could be calling a certain client who talks a lot.  Perhaps just try sending them an email or text instead if you can get away with it.

  • Try this to manage the paperwork and/or post coming in and then handle them accordingly:

Select 4 folders and mark them with the following labels:

  1. INFERNO: Today/Immediate Action

  2. HOT: Need to be completed that Week

  3. WARM: Need to be done in Month

  4. COOL: Done when time allows

No. 8 – Plan your day

  • Get up earlier, start day earlier – get into a good routine and habit as you can accomplish more and feel better for it.

  • Send emails before 9.30 am, file it away where you can find it easily if necessary.  Check emails only if necessary, otherwise you could spend all day checking and writing emails, believe me I know.

  • Handle all priority tasks first thing before 10 am. Do difficult tasks first, so at least by the end of the day you know the difficult tasks have been done.

  • Make business and sales calls at specific times: between 10-11.45, and 2:15-4 pm only – this is the typically accepted time for most people to accept calls. Usually calls are unwelcomed outside these times.

  • Get post out before 3pm – especially if have to make a quick dash to the post office, you want to get there and back to avoid the ramp up to mums picking up kids, and the onslaught of the business rush hour.  It could save you half hour to and hour of your time or more depending how far you have to go.

  • Then get back to what’s left on your to-do list and stick to it.

No. 7 – Procrastination – how to avoid it

What are you time wasters – know your triggers, this is important so you can avoid them when you see them coming.

  • Don’t get caught up in surfing the net

  • Useless phone calls

  • Doing un-important things

  • Learn to Say ‘No’

  • Turn off TV & other distractions

  • Take breaks, 10-15 minutes tops: but don’t call a friend or start a new project,

  • Re-focus back to your to-do list

No. 6 – Crisis Management

You must assess if it’s really a crisis.  Ask yourself, is it a really a crisis for you, or is it  someone else’s crisis that they’re trying to put on to you?

  • Is it ‘life threatening’? – By this we mean, will it effect the reputation of you or your business if you decide not to take immediate action?

  • Can you make arrangements to deal with this ‘crisis’ at a more convenient time?  Diplomatically of course.

No. 5  – Effective handling of un-expected phone calls

We’re talking here mostly about business calls, but sometimes Aunt Mable has called you again, forgetting this is your business time, so here’s what you need to do for all callers:

  • Let the caller know your time constraints – so Hi Aunt Mable, thanks for calling, (even though she’s called 10 minutes ago), but I’ve only got 5 minutes to talk to you, as I’m on my way out (or I’m just going into a meeting), or whatever it is that’s preventing you from taking her call.

  • Remember to make specific arrangements to call back at a convenient time.

  • Always keep a pad and pen by the phone – this is so you can quickly jot down any points, phone numbers or notes, so you can easily refer to this when you return the phone call.

  • Arrange to call back with any requested information.

  • Or better still, train your regular callers to call at specific times.

No. 4 –  How to handle friends other unexpected visitors

There is an effective diplomatic way to handle this which makes it a win-win.  Remember, body language is the key here.  So, here’s what you can do,:

  • Stand when they come to see you, and stay standing

  • Set time limits to your discussion

  • Don’t engage in small talk

  • Re-arrange to meet at their office if appropriate

  • Don’t offer them anything to eat or drink (this sends the message to them that you have time and you are inviting them to stay a while – of course if you want them to stay, by all means offer them some refreshments, don’t be rude.

No. 3 – Meetings

Questions you need to ask before accepting an invitation to a meeting

  • First of all, avoid meetings  if possible, they can be major time wasters – so maybe you can speak via video conferencing or Skype or some similar means.

  • If not, find out first: Is it necessary?

  • Or: Am I necessary?

  • If you can’t avoid the meeting, make sure you come prepared with all info, e.g. agenda and reports – nothing beats being prepared for speeding things along.

  • Stick to Agenda, get back on track where necessary.

  • Make meetings into point forms and action plans

No. 2  – End of Day procedure

What you need to do to prepare for the next day?

Redo your to-do list with the items you have not completed

  • Prioritise list

  • Put papers away in appropriate folders

  • Send out necessary emails at the end of the day if possible

No. 1  – Delegate  – Who or what to delegate

Who to, or what to effectively delegate- next week we will deal with  this further along with the costs involved in employment vs. outsourcing.  But for now, consider:

  • Don’t try to do it all

  • Ask: Is this the best use of my time?

  • There is a big difference between ‘I do it’ and ‘it gets done’

For more information on the benefits of delegating tasks, please visit:

Next week’s feature:

Top Secrets you should know about Employment Vs Outsourcing, which is more cost-effective.