EB124 - Tips for Time Management © Question:  Managing our small business can sometimes feel overwhelming.  Can you tell us how to manage time better and cope with the myriad of people and processes that we deal with everyday?

Larry:  Time management is a priority for everyone.  And whether you use a spiral notebook or a P.D.A. the best way to manage time and information is to make lists – and use them.  Lists are either valuable or useless depending upon the value of the information we gather and the activities we are trying to organize.

The first thing you must learn to do is decide what’s valuable or a waste of time and effort.   Some information is interesting but not necessary to your objectives.  So don’t let documents, magazines and reports pile up on your desk unless you need them today or tomorrow.   Everything else I either file away or throw away.

Establish your work priorities around today and tomorrow and it will be easier to determine what information and activities are important.  Things that you’d like to accomplish “someday” should go on a separate list for when you have nothing pressing you for today or tomorrow.

It takes hard work and discipline to be successful and when our activities are guided by predetermined purposes and principles we can expect our life to be satisfying and fruitful.  The four strategic disciplines of time and information management are:

1.    Organizing Priorities.  This is where the elements of time and information intersect most often.  Time is precious, and information is often strategic, so it is necessary to decide in advance what requirements will guide our use of them.

2.    Advancing Ideas.  This requires the shaping of information and the management of time.  The people who understand this concept will practice shaping what they want to say to the time allotted them, tossing from their presentation anything not essential for the listener.

3.    Problem Solving.  This process can press the need for accurate information against the urgency of time.  An unresolved problem costs time and money, and creates chaos.  By establishing contingency plans, we can access resources and information quickly when needed.

4.    Personal Growth.  The more effective we become at organizing priorities, advancing ideas, and solving problems, the more mature we become as managers.  These disciplines cross over into every part of our life and create greater and more frequent opportunities.