Successful Time Management For Dummies book cover

Successful Time Management For Dummies

By: Dirk Zeller Published: 03-23-2015

Incorporate effective time management and transform your life

If you always feel like there's not enough time in the day to get everything accomplished, Successful Time Management For Dummies is the resource that can help change your workday and your life. Filled with insights into how the most successful people manage distractions, fight procrastination, and optimize their workspace, this guide provides an in-depth look at the specific steps you can use to take back those precious hours and minutes to make more of your workday and your leisure time.

Modern life is packed with commitments that take up time and energy. But by more effectively managing time and cutting out unnecessary and unproductive activities, you really can do more with less. In this complete guide to time management, you'll find out how to manage email effectively, cut down on meetings and optimize facetime, use technology wisely, maximize your effectiveness during travel, and much more.

  • Find out how to accomplish more at work and in life, all in less time
  • Organize your professional life and workspace for optimal productivity
  • Learn to put an end to procrastination and successfully handle interruptions
  • Get specific insights into time management in various functions, from administration professionals to executives

If you're looking to take back your time and ramp up your productivity, Successful Time Management For Dummies is the resource to help get your there in a hurry.

Articles From Successful Time Management For Dummies

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43 results
43 results
Successful Time Management For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 03-03-2022

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.

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Organizing Trips for Peak Productivity

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Just as you should plan out your hours, days, and weeks on a regular basis, you should use the same strategy for the times you’re on the road. By planning ahead, you’re able to maximize your time, squeezing every drop of productivity from your trip. For each and every business trip you take, sit down in advance and be sure you address the issues set out here. By following this process every time you travel, you reduce the potential for glitches, delays, and loss of productivity. Scheduling multiple engagements for one trip Some businesspeople have travel schedules that put them on the road as often as twice a week, sometimes sleeping at home for only a night before flying out for another one-day or two-day trip, often to a destination close to the one they just returned from. That makes about as much sense as stopping off at home between trips to the grocery, the gas station, and the dry cleaner. Whenever possible, group your business trips together, creating one weeklong schedule instead of scattering several small trips over a couple of weeks. It’s bound to reduce your commutes to and from the airport and possibly your total travel time, and you can allow for a longer stretch of home-base time for yourself. Even if your destinations aren’t close to each other, it may still make sense for you to book multiple engagements for the same trip. You may do a little zigzagging in the skies, but overall, you’re using your time more efficiently. Why not fly from Chicago to Atlanta to Phoenix and back home to Dallas? Combining your three meetings into one weeklong travel-thon instead of spreading them out over two or three weeks keeps you home for a bigger block of time. As you plan a scheduled business trip, ask yourself these questions: Do you have other upcoming travel obligations that you can take care of on this trip? Can you reschedule this travel commitment to a time when you have other meetings or events in that location? What else can you do or whom can you meet with in this destination or region? Can you perform some tasks there that you typically may not travel for, such as meeting with a client or vendor? Identifying trip objectives In the process of making polite chitchat on a flight, the same questions crop up with virtually every person you sit next to: “Flying for business or pleasure?” And “What brings you to fill-in-the-blank?” When your seatmate establishes that the trip is for business, he or she typically responds to the second question with something like “Oh, I have a meeting with a client” or “Going to a conference.” Well, you don’t expect or want fellow travelers to tell you all the details about what they hope to accomplish, but it’s critical to their success that they’ve answered the question for themselves long before they slide their laptop cases under the seats in front of them. Identify your objectives before your trip. By getting a handle on your objectives, you can do a better job of preparing for your trip. For instance, say you’re heading up a meeting of colleagues at the company headquarters to address a recurring communications problem and come up with a viable system that ensures all offices receive corporate directives in the same manner at the same time. By nailing down some specific objectives, you’re then able to identify other preparations necessary to accomplish your goals, such as closing the big sale on a new prospect or meeting with your best customer to resolve delivery issues. And no, when naming your objectives, “going to a meeting” or “attending a seminar” isn’t enough. What do you want to accomplish by the time you return home? Depending on your responsibilities and the purpose of the trip, your answers may look like some of the following: I want to learn everything I can about the client and her company. I hope to turn the prospect I’m meeting into a client. I intend to learn how to operate X software program so I can effectively perform a new function in my job. I’ll make a minimum of ten networking contacts for future business relationships during the workshop breaks. I plan to resolve the issue with the home office so we can return to our successful production levels. Your objectives raise questions that allow you to effectively prepare.

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Seek Out a Quiet Place

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

When you need to concentrate, seek out a quiet place or a quiet time of day. The ambient noise of the world around you — humming computers and copiers, ringing phones, the drone of conversation — can distract you, reducing your focus and thereby diminishing the effectiveness of your time management. You may not want to change your work hours to the graveyard shift, but to maximize your focus and time, look for opportunities to reduce distracting noise. Shut your door if you have an office. Seek out an unused conference room. Despite your best efforts, you may not be able to eliminate the sound distractions that interrupt your focus. So when you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Seriously. Create your own noise — white noise — you know, that smooth, even drone that seems to level out the sound challenges. Think ocean waves, a gentle rainstorm, the wind rustling through leaves. Look for CDs of soothing music or use a small fan to create a constant low-level noise. These types of sounds don’t affect your focus, but they do block out other noise. Some people swear by classical music. Some studies indicate that classical music helps concentration and creativity. Each person responds differently to music. Find what works for you — whatever drowns out other sounds and is easiest for you to tune out. Inevitably, when you sit down to slog through a project that demands intense concentration, a random thought zips into your consciousness like the annoying whine of a mosquito. Whenever this happens, follow a tip from those who do yoga. In order to reach a true state of meditation, they focus on their breathing and allow those stray thoughts to flit past their consciousness; they don’t fight those thoughts, but they don’t let them settle in, either. It’s as though a round of tug-o-war has just ended, and you drop the rope at your side; though it’s still there, you're not fighting with it. Figure out how to be present with it.

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Explore Shopping Alternatives

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

With all the options for acquiring the merchandise you need or want, you may never have to shop at the mall again — unless, of course, you crave the slow crawl of parking lot traffic, the challenge of finding a parking space, and the thrill of dodging the crowds as you search from store to store for the item you’re seeking. Online shopping makes it easy to find and buy almost anything. Whether you head for eBay or click on the website of your favorite designer boutique, chances are you can order and pay for whatever you want — and have it delivered the next day — all in the time it’d take to get your car out of the driveway. Even many grocery stores offer scheduled ordering and delivery services, which means you can skip all the steps between making out your list and putting the items in the pantry. Order your groceries online, and they’re delivered to your door on the day you choose. Another possibility is to leave the shopping to the pros — the personal shoppers, that is. Yes, some people are experts in these matters: They know where, when, and how to find just what you need. They can sniff out a sale before it’s advertised, and they also offer a valued second opinion on matters of style and taste. Although you can hire personal shoppers to help you hunt for just about any item (from the perfect wedding gift to office furniture), they tend to specialize in wardrobe issues. Some come to your home and provide image consultation, review the contents of your closet, take your measurements, and itemize your needs. Then, based on the budget you agree on, they go to work. Many department and clothing stores also offer in-house shopping services. Check out your local Yellow Pages listings for the “Personal Shopping Services” category.

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Hire Out Your Yard Work

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Some people find mowing the lawn, raking leaves, and planting flowers relaxing, even therapeutic. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, lawn work can add hours to your weekly home maintenance responsibilities, and it’s the type of task your neighbors won’t be too happy about if you neglect it for long. Why torture yourself when you can hire someone else to do it? You can have a well-manicured lawn that all the neighbors will envy — and the time to enjoy its dandelion-free beauty. The sophistication of services ranges from the neighbor kid eager to make some summer money to the landscaper maneuvering a machine that looks like it could compete in a monster truck show. Ask your friends who they use for yard work, elicit high school or college age kids, or even look in the nickel ads or on Craigslist to find someone who can fill this role. In terms of pick-up and delivery, businesses today are light years past pizza and diaper service. The list of personal business you can take care of without getting in your car gets longer every day. You can have your dry cleaning picked up and delivered for just a few dollars extra. It’s worth the cost because the time you’d spend driving it to and from the cleaners (when you remember) is worth far more than a few bucks. Schedule the pickups so you don’t have to do anything but hand over your dirty shirts and wait for them to be returned, clean and pressed. Even as more businesses add pickup and delivery services, courier companies are popping up in communities nationwide to transport merchandise to and from your door. Whether you need to get a contract to a client across town today or simply can’t swing by the jewelers to pick up that anniversary gift before meeting your spouse for dinner in two hours, call on a courier service to come to the rescue.

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Keys to Evaluating How Well You Use Your Time

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Knowing how you used your time this week can affect your moods, productivity, and preparation for next week. People who evaluate time spent can learn to be more productive and effective. Key questions you must review: What went well this week? What could you have done better? How would you rate your week on a 1-to-10 scale? Did you meet your goals at home? Has what you’ve accomplished this week positioned you better to achieve your long-range goals? What are the key improvement areas for you next week? What’s diverting you from your schedule? As you are reviewing your results, be careful to do so with an open, observant mind, not a judgmental one. Give yourself a couple of weeks before you resolve to change your schedule. Doing so helps you get through a long enough period of time to account for anomalies. Before you can do any sort of strategizing, you need to take a good, honest look at how you use your time. For people who struggle with time management, the problem, by and large, lies in the crucial steps of assessing and planning. Start your assessment with these steps: Observe how you currently use your time. What do you spend most of your day doing? How far down the daily to-do list do you get each day? Assess your personal productivity trends. During which segments of the day are your energy levels at the highest? Which personal habits cause you to adjust your plans for the day? Take a close look at the interruptions you face on a regular basis. During what segments of the day do you experience the most interruptions? What sort of interruptions do you receive most frequently and from whom?

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Seven Steps for Starting Tomorrow Right

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

There’s nothing like getting your day started on the right time-management foot! Too many times, you end one day without preparing for the next . . . cluttered desks, disorganized calendars, and no plan for tomorrow can lead to unfinished tasks. To start tomorrow off right, follow these seven simple steps: 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. Make tomorrow’s to-do list. List all the projects, tasks, telephone calls, meetings, and objectives you want to accomplish the following day. Prioritize the tasks on your to-do list. Be sure to complete the prioritizing completely 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). 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. 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. 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. 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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Tricks for Creating High Performance Each Day

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Professional athletes work to be in the zone, a place where positive results seem to stick like a magnet. You can create that high performance zone each day. How many hours can you work at a high level each day? What’s your most productive time of the day? How many weeks can you work at high intensity without a break? How long of a break do you need so you can come back focused and intense?

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Grow the Quality of Your Personal Relationships in Less Time

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Outside of work, personal relationships should be your first priority, so always consider them first, before you even start thinking about chores. Evaluate your connections with each of the important people in your life — family and friends. How can you invest your time with this person to create a better relationship? What’s most important to this loved one, and how can you service and support these needs? How can you invest your time to nurture your child’s or dependent's developing interests? How can you show that you value this person in a way that is meaningful to him or her? What do you need to do each week to teach your child or dependent an important life skill? What shared activities allow you to serve as a positive example? What can you do to create a positive family memory?

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Organizational Technology Tools

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Everyone seems to be an expert these days with something to share or sell the masses. The information marketing world is exploding with podcasts, e-books, white papers, videos, e-courses, and webinars. Being able to organize all this information with the ability to retrieve it, use it, and implement it can be a full-time job. Whether it’s pictures of your kids and family, a research paper that you wrote years ago but now need to reference, or a long-lost relative’s obituary, you need a system and set of tools to store and grab the information you need. Building your system to find what you need fast Separate your personal retrieval system from your business. For example, if you write books, white papers, articles and blogs, create videos, training courses, podcasts, and other forms of content, you can use Evernote to retrieve work quickly so you can update, refresh, and rebrand it. And then there’s the organization app called Alfred, named after Batman’s handy butler who was always ready to assist the caped crusader. This app saves you a lot of time when you need to search your local hard drive. It can even review your bookmarks and the web for information that you need. You can create your own themes in colors and font sizes to match how you learn and retrieve. Because you work in the world of many accounts and passwords, rather than having a piece of paper with all your accounts, user names, and passwords, use LastPass. Your personal identity and passwords are something you never want to fall into enemy’s hands. The only solution for most people is to use the same user name and password on all accounts. That is not safe either. The time it takes to clear your name when you’re hacked is enormous. LastPass allows you to safely share passwords with others that might need access to your information. If you’re serving as project manager and leading people and projects, you might try SweetProcess. This app is a work-flow documentation program that enables you to delegate more effectively. SweetProcess emails you to create procedures, and share and track results all in one place. Protecting your technology from catastrophe Accidents can and do happen, especially with technology. Backing up work files and information is imperative today. Although many still perform regular backups, the need for cloud-based or offsite types of backup systems have never been more important. There are numerous services that offer backup capability, such as Carbonite, Backblaze, or CrashPlan. Most people have a limited backup-plan strategy. It’s not a matter of if your hard drive crashes; it’s only a matter of when. When it happens, whether you lose one file or hundreds, it still causes problems. Clouding, Dropboxing, and storing your stuff The ability to use cloud or have documents, data, and information available on any device creates time efficiency. In cloud computing you share computing resources rather than store documents, software, data, and files on a local server or single server and system. Putting something in the cloud refers to Internet-based storage and commuting. Transferring data from your laptop, tablet, phone, and desktop is truly a “has been” action. Selecting cloud-based software and apps is the only way to go. If you select a CRM solution for your business, using cloud-based technology is a must. The remote servers of the past don’t offer the flexibility needed today. The cloud provides safety in case of lost data or files and provides access to all people and devices. It promotes sharing of information between departments and people. Dropbox is the most-used cloud document sharing software for both business and personal use. No need to email large files anymore when you can give people access to specific folders and files. Dropbox provides strong encryption so your private business or personal files remain protected. It’s easy to use, so you can set up files and folders similar to a Windows-based filing system. You can use over 300,000 apps that connect to Dropbox, enabling you to increase your productivity from Microsoft Office to AutoCAD. For those who travel, Dropbox allows you to access your presentations, documents, and PowerPoints from the road. If you need to make adjustments and update when on the road, you can easily do that and store them in Dropbox. DocuSign is another must-have time-saving and storage program. The ability to replicate and edit a standardized agreement can save hours of work. The faster you can deliver an agreement of the terms and conditions of service, the less likely the prospect could change their mind, have second thoughts, or your competitor outflank you. People want easy and faster service, and DocuSign fits both of those to a T. It stores all your contracts, but the best feature is how quickly clients receive them and can approve them with a few clicks of their mouse. No more printing the document, signing the document, then scanning it back into a computer to email back to the sender. It also tracks when they received the document, and when they opened it as well as completed and signed it.

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