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Tick, Tick, Tick: A Business Pro’s Method of Time Management

timerDost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of. — Benjamin Franklin

Over the years, as a salesman, businessman and business leader, I’ve developed and employed these time-management principles and practices. They’ve helped me; Perhaps they’ll be of use to you.

1)  The key to great time management is in knowing what to do and what  not to do.

2)  Manage by (written) Strategy.  Require employees to review applicable Strategies often, e.g., before important meetings.  All key employees must know the company’s Mission, Values, Strategies, and their supporting Tactics and Objectives.

3)  Answer your phone.  Learn to keep it short but friendly.  Learn to say, “No thank you”. . . “I’m busy”. . .”Take it up with Harry.”

4)  Write EVERYTHING in one place . . . in your daily notebook.  No exceptions.  Review it often.  Use marginal indicators to signal “A” for action . . . “F/U” for followup . . . “C” for a “see” action . . . etc.

5)  Write your notes and drafts in “shorthand.”  Then critique and dictate a second draft.  Have your secretary type and critique your 3rd draft.  You should then critique and finalize the 4th draft.

6)  Before taking action, ask yourself:  What am I trying to make happen and Why?  When should it happen and Why Where should it take place and WhyWho should do it and Why?  How do I think it should be done and WhyWhat will I/we/they be able to do if the objective is accomplished?  Will it be cost effective?

7)  When setting goals, objectives and actions, distinguish between what you will do (the actions) and what you want others to do (the objectives).  Ask yourself, what am I trying to make happen that wouldn’t otherwise happen without my leadership, involvement, direction, etc.

8)  Try to do two things at once.  Listen to a book-on-CD while driving to work . . . to Bloomberg radio while dressing.  When Joe calls . . . take a few minutes after hearing him out to review your “Joe-To-Do” list (in the back of your daily notebook.) . . . See Sam on the way to the water cooler . . . Harry on the way back.

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William Pauwels

William A. Pauwels, Sr. was born in Jackson Michigan to a Belgian, immigrant, entrepreneurial family. Bill is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and served in executive and/or leadership positions at Thomson Industries, Inc., Dow Corning, Loctite and Sherwin-Williams. He is currently CIO of Pauwels Private Investment Practice. He's been commenting on matters political/economic/philosophical since 1980.