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Cheat Sheet

Successful Time Management For Dummies

Making the most of your time at work means learning to make productive decisions quickly and asking effective time-saving questions at meetings. Save time on the road by keeping a list of your important travel details with you so you can get to them easily. Before you call it a day at work, take a few steps to prepare for tomorrow so you can start your day off on the right foot.

How to Make Confident Decisions Quickly at Work

If you work in a busy environment, making quick, confident business decisions can be challenging if priorities aren't clear. This problem can be particularly difficult for employees who fill the "worker bee" role and who haven't been given clear direction on business priorities. Try assessing your options in the following order:

  1. Which task creates the most financial benefit for the company?

  2. Which task serves the customers best?

  3. Which task best supports the company's business vision, core values, core purpose, and goals?

  4. Which task best supports my boss's goals and objectives?

  5. Which task best aligns with my personal goals and objectives?

  6. Which task affects other areas the most?

    • How many departments will this affect?

    • How many people will this involve?

    • What effect will this task have on my time or my boss's time?

    • What will this task cost?

Questions to Lead a More Effective Meeting

Whether you attend meetings organized by you or scheduled by someone else, you can help guide the meeting to a successful and timely conclusion, or find out if you're actually needed in the discussions, by asking certain questions. To direct your meeting to a more valuable and less time-consuming direction, try asking these questions:

  • What is our agenda for this meeting?

  • What are we hoping to accomplish by the end of the meeting?

  • What action point do you want me to record?

  • Whom do I assign this to?

  • What time frame should we attach to this?

Time-Saving Travel Checklist

Before you leave for a business trip, make a list of your travel details and keep it with you. This will maximize your time when traveling and keep you from fumbling around later searching for your information. Some of the details you should include (in chronological order) in your travel itinerary are:

  • Airline information

    • Flight numbers

    • Departure and arrival times

    • Record locators

    • Seat assignments

    • Phone number for the reservation line

  • Terminal information for connecting flights

  • Ground transportation details (for each leg of your trip)

    • Car-rental reservation numbers or car service information

    • Costs quoted when making reservations

  • Hotel information

    • Reservation number

    • Address and contact details

    • Map if you're driving to the hotel

    • Shuttle details if applicable

    • Room information (type or preferences) requested and rate quoted

  • Meeting details

    • Location description and address

    • Contact information

    • Driving directions

    • Start and stop times

How to Start Tomorrow Right

Before you call it a day, take a few moments to get ready for tomorrow. Organizing and prioritizing your tasks will make for a more efficient and successful tomorrow. Apply these helpful steps for getting ready for the next work day:

  1. Clear your desk.

    Put everything back into a file drawer, even if you plan to take those items right back out in the morning. Eliminate items to be filed or thrown away.

  2. Make tomorrow's to-do list.

    List all the projects, tasks, telephone calls, meetings, and objectives you want to accomplish the following day.

  3. Prioritize the tasks on your to-do list.

    Be sure to complete the prioritizing, from A-list activities (those with heavy penalties if they're not completed) to lower-level tasks that can be delegated (D-list) or eliminated (E-list).

  4. Delegate all tasks, projects, and calls that someone else can do.

    If you can't completely delegate the tasks because of their complexity or because a staff member is gone the next day, at least send a quick memo or e-mail letting the person know the assignment's coming.

  5. Determine what you need to accomplish to make tomorrow a great day.

    By determining a goal, you increase your intensity, focus, and urgency from the time you walk through the door.

  6. Prepare your workspace for tomorrow's A-1 priority task.

    Assemble all the materials you'll need and neatly stack and organize them on your credenza or desk.

  7. Rate your day.

    To get better use of your time tomorrow, set aside time to reflect on today. Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What went well today? What didn't go well?

    • Did you complete everything on your to-do list?

    • What did you learn today?

    • What would you have done differently?

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