Top 10 Time Wasters
By Arthur A. Hawkins II
1) Procrastination & Excuses
If you don’t start you can’t finish. Reach your goals & objectives by continually working toward them. Don’t put things off! Never make things more than they are. Do not wait until the last minute (also see #8). ACT!
2) Running errands & Traveling
Plan ahead. Arrange tasks in order of importance and need. Make only one trip or as few as necessary. Don’t waste time making duplicate or unnecessary trips. Combine tasks and trips. Know what you need and who has it (phone, fax or e-mail ahead, if appropriate). Find a good time to get it. Notify them, so they can be prepared and you don’t have to wait. Avoid heavy traffic times like rush hour (including on the Internet).
OOPS, you forgot, now you must hurry; Something important just came up (at the last minute). . . Don’t try to do everything at once or wait until the last minute. List what must be done and the time it takes to do it. Schedule and plan ahead but allow for the unexpected. Avoid the costly mistakes and oversights of rushing. Do it right the first time. Slow down and take your time. Relax.
4) Telephone, mail & e-mail
Why are you calling/writing? Clearly define: your purpose and what you want to accomplish, exactly who you are addressing, the best means of getting what you need. . . Prepare a brief telemarketing script (practice before calling) or rough outline. Don’t waste time. Set a specific time to call/write/log on. Take and return calls/mail when it’s convenient for you. Screen calls with an answering device. Give out your phone number and address only to those you want contacting you. When you accomplish your objective, hang up and move on.
5) Paperwork, reports & memos
Have a purpose for writing. KISS it- keep it short and sweet. Get to the point immediately and be clear about it. Avoid unnecessary writing and duplications. Screen incoming paperwork carefully. Continually purge that which is of no use to you, but be careful. Keep everything where it can be easily located and used.
Why meet? What’s covered- purpose, subject, scope? Schedule meetings carefully- time, date, location, length, type, attendees. Address the issues. Prepare everyone. Avoid unnecessary meetings.
Informed viewer or couch potato? Why are you watching? Determine what’s really important to you. You can always videotape or watch it in rerun. ALTERNATIVES: Be a self-starter, find a hobby, start a business, exercise, read a book, do something productive. Turn it off!
8) Planning & Decision making
“No one plans to fail, they just fail to plan.” But this can lead to the classic “paralysis-by-analysis”. To accomplish what you want, you must ACT! Gather the facts. Weigh both sides. Plan it out in detail ahead of time. Combine tasks. Delegate. Prioritize. Bottom line: Get the job done. Decide!
Why you are using it (purpose). What’s available- why make entries already there (stored, on paper)? Plan- Know what you need and where & how to get it. Back it up- prepare yourself for crashes, reusage and accidental erasures. Limit your time on-line, it’s expensive. Keep a record of it. Get what you need and log off. Avoid excessive game playing. The computer is a productive tool, but only when used wisely.
10) Just say YES
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Be honest with people (and yourself) about what you can take on and they will respect you for it. Use time wisely. Schedule your day. Know what needs to be done and the time it takes to do it. Prioritize on importance and need. Delegate. If you can’t fit something into your schedule, no matter how tempting, don’t accept it! Don’t be a “YES man”. Just Say NO!
How to avoid wasting time
* Give yourself plenty of time
* Understand what must be done
* Build the “right” habits
* Schedule your day
* Use “idle” time to your advantage
* Break tasks into manageable bits
* Prioritize on importance and need
* Plan to work and work your plan
* Use technology but don’t get bogged down with it
* Gather the facts
* Analyze the situation
* Make a decision
* Watch out for “paralysis-by-analysis”
* Don’t procrastinate
* Tie up loose ends
* Implement your action plan
* Do it right the first time
* Know what your own “time wasters” are and avoid them
This information was excerpted from Arthur A. Hawkins II’s book, “THE Self-Employment Resource Guide”. Information Research Lab, Park Plaza 144, 9824 Western Avenue, Evergreen Park, Illinois 60805, USA.