Time is of the essence! Time is Money! How Time Flies! These are just a few of the time-related clichés we banter about in regular conversation. And then, how often do we hear the complaint, "there's just not enough time in the day"?
If as an architecture and engineering firm leader, you find managing time to be a challenge, here are 20 tips to help you use time effectively.
1. Monitor your time use – See where your time and energy go; then start to apply them where you want, not where they happen to fall.
2. Learn to say “no” – Make “no”your normal response to invitations and solicitations, “yes” the exception. You’ll cut unwanted commitments and responsibilities that pilfer hours from every work day.
3. Decide quickly – Delay will gain little. Great opportunities may be lost. Make decisions quickly, on basic facts, but know when you must wait.
4. Be sure you have to go – Unnecessary travel is automatically ineffective. Before you go, find out why. Is there no other way to get the same results?
5. Run and hide – You need a quiet place to concentrate without interruptions. Take your overdue piles of paperwork there, and don’t leave until you’re done.
6. Look ahead – It’s difficult to see any further ahead than you look. Keep alert to the future, and it won’t take you by surprise.
7. Schedule a great circle – Travel in a great circle, and finish in one place before you move on. The circle route minimizes mileage, fatigue, and time.
8. Choose your medium – Phone calls, faxes, email, letters, postcards, personal visits, memos, even telegrams are all legitimate forms of communication. For each situation, pick the one that gives the impression and gets the results you want to achieve.
9. Follow the critical path – Proper planning shows you the critical path that brings many sub-tasks to fruition in the proper sequence. Work to find this path, get on it, and stay there.
10. Buy extra time – Special forms, machines, and specialists represent concentrated time. It’s often cost effective to buy access to this extra time and save your own work that only you can do effectively.
11. Refuse to do the unimportant – Paperwork seems more important than it is. Arbitrarily cut your paperwork time by 20 percent. When the sky doesn’t fall, you may gain the courage to cut another 20 percent, and another, and another....
12. Assert your rights – Too many executives let others bend their ears for no good reason. You have the right to make good use of your time and energy. Speak up to maintain effectiveness.
13. Read faster – You can do it, even without a speed-reading course. Learn how to read books, reports, and other materials faster right now because you will immediately start to save 10, 20, 30 percent or more of the time you currently spend looking at words on paper.
14. Start now – The best way to ensure that something will happen as planned is to start it right away, whether it’s a change in habits or a new work procedure.
15. Standardize – It’s worthless to draft original answers to routine questions more than once. Cull the best paragraphs from past correspondence. Then write by specifying these paragraphs by number.
16. Travel light – Carry as little as possible so you can avoid airline baggage claims, move around easily, and arrive refreshed, ready to work.
17. Tackle the toughest part first – Some people start with what’s easy, but the better way is to attack the hardest part of any assignment when you’re fresh and enthusiastic. Then the rest of the objectives are all downhill.
18. Don’t shuffle papers – Once you pick up an item, dispose of it before you put it down; delegate some action, make the next decision, somehow move the project along at least one step. Finish the project completely if you can.
19. Shut off visits – Close your door, take your phone off the hook, and do whatever makes sense to reduce “drop-ins.” They eat up time, produce every little and drag on. Give people a brisk, warm “good-bye,” and get back to
20. Get right to the point – Pleasantries are nice but can grow out of proportion. Brisk warmth is the order of the day. Everyone should be prepared at meetings before they start, so the warm-up material isn’t required.
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