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The Time Trap by Alec MacKenzie

This article was inspired by Alec MacKenzie's The Time Trap . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book.

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How to Professionally Manage Your Time

“Time is the only resource that must be spent the instant it is received, and it must be spent at one fixed rate: sixty seconds per minute, sixty minutes per hour.”

The time-management industry has grown rapidly, as people have realized that success is directly related to proper usage of time. However, the problem isn’t with your work environment. The issue lies with you! Human nature runs against the rules of managing time. When you learn to change your habits that lead to wasted time, you will live a happier more productive lifestyle. To better manage your time, use these four steps:

  1. Establish long-term goals and the steps need to reach each goal. Work backwards from goals to immediate steps. Choose goals that are difficult but achievable.
  2. Decide which of your goals and purposes should be prioritized. Rank each goal from one to five based on their overall importance.
  3. Determine what times during a 24 hour day you are most productive, so that you can envision the perfect day.
  4. Building on the first three steps, write down a schedule for your day.

You must track your activities in a time log and note what distracted you. After three days, develop strategies for eliminating trends of distraction.

Though people waste time in different ways, here are 20 time wasters to watch out for:

  1. Crises – Genuine crises can pop up unexpectedly; however, most emergencies can be avoided by advanced planning.
  2. The Telephone – Ignore human nature and screen your calls.
  3. Poor Planning – Use a planning system that will allow you to accomplish immediate and long-term goals.
  4. Too Much Ambition – Don’t take on too much work by yourself. Say no to your employer when necessary.
  5. Unexpected Visitors – Set up a meeting time on a different day, or politely tell visitors to solve problems on their own.
  6. Inability to Delegate – Give your employees the chance to work. Put aside perfectionism and choose the best worker for the job.
  7. Disorganized Behavior – Keep your office organized and remove superfluous materials.
  8. Neglect – Develop self-discipline and strive for your goals.
  9. “Yes Man” – When the time calls for it, say “no” and offer people other alternatives.
  10. Laziness – Rather than procrastinating, make a commitment to get work done.
  11. Unnecessary Meetings – Don’t attend unneeded meetings, and those you have should be planned out.
  12. Desk Work – Screen your paperwork and organize it by priority.
  13. Unfinished Business – Leave unfinished tasks ready to be picked up again. Don’t leave delayed projects incomplete.
  14. Too Few Workers – Teach your staff to manage time well.
  15. Fraternizing – Work on cues to end lengthy conversations.
  16. Who’s in Charge? – Determine levels of authority on a project.
  17. Failure to Communicate – Learn good speaking skills and focus on the object of your communication.
  18. Poor Controls – “Use better monitoring and control systems.”
  19. Inadequate Information – Develop a system for acquiring needed information.
  20. Wasted Travel – Plan trips to eliminate useless travel time.

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