by Dave on January 21, 2014

I am often asked to share how I find ways to manage my time given a very busy work schedule. Following are a few things that work well for me. I encourage others to send their time saving tips to me – I will create a follow-up blog sharing this information.

1 on 1 Impromptu Meetings –I utilize stand-up meetings; this often shortens the time they cartoom time mgttake. It eliminates someone settling in your office and chatting about unrelated items.  It works like this; if it is a salesperson or a customer/client with a complaint I meet with them over the front counter, explaining that I am on a busy schedule, but how can I help them. It is easier to excuse yourself from that type of situation than asking them to leave your office. In the case of a customer/client with a beef, they generally are more polite with others (staff) watching (and as a spin-off) you have witnesses to what was said should you need that).

When meeting with colleagues try to meet in their office, as again it is much easier to excuse yourself than ask them to leave.

Note: In these types of meetings there will certainly be times when you will want to speak with the individuals in private, dependent on the nature of the issue to be discussed and  particularly in regards to persons with a complaint – but I recommend starting at the counter, then judging your approach.

Running Effective & Efficient Meetings –There are a number of ways of ensuring that you keep meeting time to the minimum. First ask yourself this question; Is this meeting really necessary?  is there another way of handling the issue/item? With availability of electronic capability like SKYPE, Joinme, Go to Meeting, conference calling and other programs, you can save travel time (if participants need to come from other parts of town or other cities) the expense of hosting a meeting and considerable time. 

If you determine that the meeting needs to take place here are 8 things to consider that will make efficient use your time at the meeting.

1.      Who needs to be there? – Only those who will be directly impacted by any decisions or who have information pertinent to the item/issue need to be there.

2.      Establish a timeline – I have found that meetings that extend beyond 1 hour are not productive.

3.      Create and agenda – identify:meetings

a.      The date and time of the meeting (here is where I would indicate the 1 hour (e.g. 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM)

b.      Who will be invited

c.       Items to be discussed

4.      Send any background material for the items to be discussed so the attendees may review and research before the meeting

5.      If you are not Chairing the meeting select someone who is experienced and not reluctant to take charge

6.      If you are not making meeting notes select someone to do that task – make sure you advise them as to what your expectations are (e.g. summary notes identifying any action to be taken and who will be responsible for that action).

7.      Review the decisions as made to ensure everyone understands what was agreed

8.      Make sure the notes (after you have reviewed them for accuracy) are sent out to the participants as soon as possible (within 2 days maximum), include a summary of the action taken, who will

Handling Correspondence (mail, e-mails, texts, etc.) –In a book entitled The Organized Executive, written by Stephanie Winston there are a number of time saving techniques identified. One that I utilize is called the TRAF system for handling correspondence. I use this technique for handling e-mails as well. Ms. Winston said that there are things you can do with a piece of correspondence:

T – toss/trash it – there is absolutely no point in keeping it unless you will need it at another time.

R – refer or forward it – to someone else that has the ability to handle it, unless it is absolutely imperative that you deal with it

A – action it – deal with it/ respond right away, this saves having to return to it later and having most likely to read it again.

F – file/save it – only if it will be necessary to refer to it in the future.

½ – read it – only if will take only a few minutes. If it is a correspondence/e-mail of several pages save it to read until you are waiting for a plane/dentist or riding a bus, etc.

To Do Lists –If you use “to do” lists here are 3things that work for me:

1. Place the most difficult/time consuming ones first on your list – get them out of the way while you are fresh and alert – the easier ones for later in the day.

2. Group items of a similar nature (e.g. phone calls, e-mails, texting, etc.). In most cases you can breeze through these and get them off your list quickly

3.      If you have phone calls to make, schedule them just before lunch or closing time as your contacts will want the calls to be brief.  

Reflection Time –A really helpful technique I learned well into my work life was time to reflect. I took ½ hour at the end of the day when the office was empty to reflect on how my day went, what went well, what I could have done better and what the next day’s activities were and how I would handle them. This had additional value in that when I went home for the evening I was ready for my family. Prior to that I always needed quiet time at home to download before I was part of the home events.



“Time flies – it is up to you to be the Navigator.”  – Robert Orben


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