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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California

Time Management

To realize the value of one year:
Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
To realize the value of one month:
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize just the value of one hour:
Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of one minute:
Ask the person who missed the plane, train or bus.
To realize the value of one millisecond:
Ask the person who has won a silver metal in the Olympics.
Time waits for no one.


Time is impossible to manage. We cannot change time. There are always seven days in a week, twenty-four hours a day, sixty minutes in an hour, and sixty seconds in a minute. What we can do is use our time effectively so that we succeed in our professional and personal lives. Here are some ideas to help:

  1. Prioritize your activities. Always do things that will maintain and enhance your reputation with your customer/client.

  2. Each day create a "to do" list. Estimate how long each item will take. Do not try to do things that will give you no flexibility to deal with unforeseen matters that arise each day. Items that will take you beyond 60 percent of available time should be put on your list for another day.

  3. Rank all items on your "to do" list for importance. Things to do with internal and external clients should be given A ratings; personal business activities get a B; frivolous and fun items get a C.

  4. Do one thing at a time. Focus on completing the task so that you can move on to the next with a clear head. Increase your energy as the task nears completion so you can get it out of the way.

  5. Reduce the clutter on your desk so your mind can focus on the task ahead. This can be achieved by:

    • Handling each thing that comes across your desk just once. Make a decision with each item - do it, file it, or dump it.

    • Working on one task at a time.

    • Recording information only if there is a good chance you will refer to it later.

    • Getting yourself a large wastepaper basket and using it a lot! We often clutter our desks with stuff we never use. So take courage and file more stuff away permanently.

  6. Use every minute of time to get things done, so you have as much free time as possible to relax and think. Here are some ways to improve your productivity:

    • Use a cellular phone to return calls during travel time.

    • Make better use of public transit. While sitting on the bus or train, you can

      • go through your mail;

      • work on your laptop and respond to e-mails;

      • prepare for meetings;

      • plan presentations;

      • sit back and take a mental look at your effectiveness;

      • read articles you have been carrying around.

    • Keep articles that will promote your professional development. Read them when you are in line-ups, waiting for meetings to start and at other down times.

    • Try to locate yourself as close as possible to people you work with. This will save travel time, including time walking to and from their offices.

    • Avoid telephone tag by leaving detailed messages for people you can't get hold of. Also, if you have voice mail, ask people to leave you detailed messages.

    • Do two things at once, when appropriate. Examples of multi-tasking are

      • reading while exercising;

      • watching a video while exercising;

      • listening to tapes while travelling.

  7. Reduce the time you spend in meetings:

    • Get there on time. Thanks to your example, others might be encouraged to follow your lead to ensure that meetings start promptly.

    • Ask your colleagues to agree to start meetings on time whether people are there or not. This will reward punctuality, not tardiness.

    • Ask the chairperson when the meeting will end. This will increase people's consciousness of being on time.

    • Ask if you can be excused when items that don't pertain to you are being dealt with.

    • Offer to be a timekeeper. Alert the participants when they are running over time on any agenda items.

  8. Deal effectively with time-wasters. Don't engage in idle chat with people who have too much time on their hands. When you see them coming:

    • Avoid making eye contact with them. They may then go on to someone else who is interested and will make the time.

    • Stand up when they approach. This will discourage them from sitting, getting comfortable, and taking more of your valuable time than you would like.

    • Close your door when you urgently need to finish a task and require the additional quiet to be able to concentrate.

    • If you have an assistant, ask him to guard your door. Give him permission to prevent people from walking in when your door is closed.

    • Establish a quiet time with co-workers. This hour a day will allow you to do the many things that would otherwise clutter your mind and prevent you from communicating effectively with your fellow associates.

  9. Greet and meet people outside your office. In this way, you increase control of the situation to terminate any discussion when you feel it is appropriate.

  10. Remove chairs near your desk. This will prevent people from sitting down for idle chatter.

  11. If people approach you asking for a minute of your time, either say no, letting them know that this is not a good time, or say, "Well, I actually have three minutes." Then look at your watch, so people are conscious of the fact that their time with you is being monitored.

  12. If your organization has a "flex time" policy, use it either to get in earlier than the traditional start of business or to stay a little later. In this way, you will have time to get things done without constant interruptions.

  13. Change the layout of your furniture. You can create more time by doing the following:

    • Moving your desk out of a high-traffic area that encourages people to stop and chat.

    • Moving closer to people you work with so as to reduce travel time.

    • Positioning your desk in a way that does not enable people to see your face. This way, you will have fewer people bothering you.

    • Getting the best chair your company can afford. A good chair will give your back additional support to enable you to work longer without feeling pain and muscle strain.

  14. Remain as alert as possible. You will increase your concentration and work speed if you

    • take frequent stretch breaks;

    • exercise;

    • take short mental breaks to clear your mind.

  15. Invest in a time-management system. This could be a paper-based system or the appropriate software for your computer. Hallmarks of an effective paper-based system are

    • a separate daily "to do" list section, which allows you to insert tasks for future days;

    • a calendar section for all your appointments;

    • a section for all your key contacts.

  16. Effective software will include

    • a task list that will appear as a reminder on your screen when something needs to be done;

    • the ability to review the schedules of your associates and book meeting times;

    • a calendar with reminder features;

    • integrated e-mailing capabilities that enable you to find a person and, with one click of a mouse, immediately create an e-mail template.

Westside Toastmasters on Meetup

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