Finding Extra Hours For You . . . Time Management Tips for the Busy Executive or Business Owner

There is a vast difference between free time and wasted time. Sometimes, as coaches, we work with clients who have difficulty allowing themselves free time, and they need help in taking more time for themselves. Sometimes a client may have problems with wasted time, and it might appear that they are to be coached in the opposite direction. Yet, in fact, the two issues are not opposites.

The Coaching Tip

Free time is time taken consciously to relax, to do what feels good and to nurture ourselves. It may involve staring at clouds, taking a bubble bath, going for a walk to enjoy the colors, sounds and scents of nature. It may involve just sitting and, to all outward appearances, doing nothing… but who knows what is going on within us. It renews us by benefiting our humanity, feeding our creativity, un-stressing our minds… the list of the benefits of free time are long.Wasted time, on the other hand, is time spent that does not feed the heart, but just mindlessly passes the time. There is no one activity that is ALWAYS wasted time (always and never are dangerous words). Television is the most frequently mentioned as having mind-numbing qualities, though not all television is mind-numbing. For some it may be computer games, for others chat rooms or newsgroups. For others it is unrelated to computers or TV – wasted time existed long before technology came upon us.Each of us, or our clients, can examine our individual time-use to see where time passes without our experiencing rest, renewal or achievement, and decide what activities contribute to wasted time – and how to eliminate it, and what constitutes free time – and how to encourage it.Try these for more effective time management.

1. Shift from Not Valuing to Valuing your Time.

This is an important change to make and when it happens you will never waste another minute! In a dollar sense – this means you are comfortable charging for your lifetime of knowledge and experience – don’t allow clients to take this for granted. You have invested a lot of time and energy. In life, we only get one chance with our time – we can not go back and use the last 10 seconds!

2. Get the most out of your day.

Every now and then ask yourself: Am I making the best use of my time? If not, stop what you are doing and begin working on a project that will allow you better use of your time. If you are ‘bogged down’ with a specific situation, get up and go for a walk and then come back and tackle it.

3. Work with goals in mind.

It’s amazing how differently we work when we have goals to work towards. If you don’t know what your goals are, spend some time working out what they may be. Use them as a road map! Examples may be professional (project deadline, sales quotas, career advancement, etc.) and personal (health, fitness, family relationship, financial, etc.).

4. Handle every piece of paper or e-mail only once.

With paper use the ‘3 D’ rule of Do it, Dump it or Delegate it. Never handle a piece of paper twice. Don’t even think of placing it in your ‘to get to’ pile – Handle it NOW! As for e-mails the same rule can apply so you either action it, delete it or forward it to someone else. If you print a copy then use the ‘3 D’ rule.

5. Ask someone who is efficient – What their secret is?

Ask the most efficient person you know what their secret is and how did they develop these habits. Then see if it will work for you.

6. Don’t allow anyone to take your time from you.

Set up boundaries around your time. If you are stopped in the hall for a conversation, ask for this person to arrange a meeting with you (if appropriate); don’t allow co-workers to infringe on your home time; if someone is late for an appointment and hasn’t contacted you -give them 15 minutes past the appointed time and then move on. It is up to you as to how you allow other people to use your time!

7. Build family and personal time into your day.

We all need to have the support of our family or friends – so make sure you build them into your daily habits. You don’t want to finish your career and realize that you missed out on the closeness and development of your family.

8. Your health is important – isn’t it!

Maintain your health and fitness because this is what will help you through in the long run. There are three things that I feel are valuable to us all – they are time [which we are talking about]; knowledge and energy. Take care of your energy and its levels. At the end of the day being overworked and stressed is only going to hamper your health. So take extra care of this – go for a walk, have a massage, spend time with your family, stop and smell the roses or book in for your yearly medical check up.

9. Dry clean the clutter from your office and home.

Take some time to remove the clutter from your life. The more you simplify your office or life the more time you will have. Clutter zaps your energy and allows you to waste time on non-valuable tasks. So plug the holes today.

10. Work in your peak performance times.

Schedule demanding tasks to the part of the day that you work best, where your energy levels are at their highest. It may be first thing in the morning or early afternoon – work out when it is and then see yourself moving ahead.