The Best of Time

By Steve Atlas

You can never have enough time, but you can manage the limited time that you have more effectively. Dr. Donald Wetmore, president of the Productivity Institute, has taught time management seminars for 20 years. He offers seven tips to organize your time more effectively:

1. Do daily planning the evening before your next workday. Prepare two lists: “everything I need to do tomorrow” and “everything I want to do tomorrow.” Rank each item by number in terms of its importance.

2. Delegate when appropriate. For each item, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time?” If not, delegate it to someone else. Distinguish between “I do it” and “It gets done.” Get help. For example, use students to lick envelopes and mail information. After all, the best use of sales reps’ time is selling.

3. Systematize. Create a system to make things easy for yourself. Have a file of standard letters stored on your laptop computer. Keep essential office supplies within arm’s reach. If you use a fax machine frequently, keep one nearby.

4. Maintain a good networking contact list, which could be your best single resource. It’s easy to walk around with information in your head – information that you may forget. Instead, use the ACT (Activities, Contacts and Time) software that’s available at most office supply stores.

5. If you are on the road frequently, develop your own “university on wheels.” Bring along training tapes and books.

6. Run a time log to track how you spend your time. “Everyone I know who uses this system gains at least two extra hours every day,” says Wetmore. What appointments were a waste of time – something you could have missed or delegated? Could you have missed a meeting? Are you qualifying prospects to be sure that making an appointment is an effective use of your time?

7. Apply a “productivity triangle” that deals with three essential skill sets:
a) Enhance your time management skills
b) Absorb information more effectively. Consider a speed reading class. We can’t control the flow of information; but we can control the rate at which we absorb it.
c) Communicate information orally and in writing.

Dr. Donald Wetmore is president of the Productivity Institute in Shelton, CT, which specializes in time management and personal productivity, and author of the soon to be released KISS Guide to Organizing Your Life (DK Publishing, December 2001). For more information, call 1-800-969-3773 or 203/929-9902, email or visit