Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Time Management Rules: Take 8 Minutes, Save Hours

In a hurry or feel behind?
Stop! Read this -- now!

As a writer or someone working in book publishing you likely feel tired, overwhelmed, and underpaid – on a good day!  Have no fear: I have the secret four-step formula to save yourself time in your busy life – shaving up to several hours a day!

But before I show you how to truly be a better time manager, you should examine your time-wasters and see where you fall short.  Sometimes, just taking a closer look at how you spend your most precious commodity will help you improve.

The 11 ways people fail to manage their time well are as follows:

1.                  You are not mindful about your time.

2.                  You react rather than initiate.  Take control of your calendar.

3.                  You fail to make other people aware of time and their impact on your day.

4.                  You fail to set time limits on a meeting or task for others or for yourself.

5.                  You set time limits that are too long.  Meetings don’t need to last 30 minutes – make it 20.  An hour isn’t needed – do it in 50 minutes.  Save time wherever you can.

6.                  You fail to multi-task.  If you’re on the phone, go click on social media stuff or file things at the same time.  If the call is important, focus and give it your attention, but if it’s a conference call with 10 people, do something while it’s going on.

7.                  Give up trying to be perfect.  Sometimes for some things, good enough is good enough.  Why should you invest time into others if they won’t pay off?

8.                  Don’t respond to non-emergency emails right away.  As time goes by some things that were emailed to you suddenly are not needed or are not as big a deal.  Things have a way of working themselves out.

9.                  Answer an email with a call and a call with an email.  Sometimes you need to talk for five minutes and explain things or clear the air so you can avoid a long email exchange.  However, when people call you and leave a voice mail,  and you fear it’ll be a long time suck, email them a short reply in hopes of saving yourself from a long, unproductive call.

10.              Be organized or forever fall behind.

11.              Systemize things.  This is different from being organized.  Create templates, instructions, or worksheets for things or tasks that you tend to repeat.  Create turn-key activity into just that.  You can always personalize or customize the document, where needed.

I used to wear a watch with the time set 15 minutes ahead.  It helped me think I needed to rush to get to where I needed to be. When in meetings, people would glance at my watch and think it was later than it was and would move to wrap things up.

Okay, so what’s the real secret to turning your 24-hour day into one that allows you time to pace yourself, even relax?  Retire.  

Short of that, you’ll work your butt off if you want to thrive.  The more efficient you are, the more you’ll be able to take on more projects.  The more you do – if done well – will bring you the rewards you seek.

Sometimes efficiency works against you and people give you more things to do. manage your time well, but don't let others know just how fast you are!

The four best ways to take ownership of the clock are:

1.                  Deny!
Just say no.  Don’t do the thing you think you should do, and don’t really need to do.  Don’t volunteer to do anything.  Don’t immediately agree to do what one asks of you.  If you can come up with a good reason not to do something, don’t do it.

2.                  Divert!
Get help on any and all tasks.  If you can save even five minutes an hour, you have an extra two hours a day.  Some things you can delegate or pay someone to do, and use your time for more worthwhile things.  Know the value of your time.

3.                  Delay!
Stall, push back, postpone and avoid commitments for as long as you can.  Either you’ll eventually have to do them or it’s possible the need for the task will go away.

4.                  Dilute!
Water things down.  Instead of agreeing to travel 3,000 miles to give a speech, only do stuff within 1,500 miles of your location.  Someone wants a report on something?  Make it three instead of five pages.  If someone wants to meet for an hour, give them 30 minutes.  Instead of meeting in person with travel time, connect by phone.  Instead of doing a project perfectly in three hours, strive to be 90% of perfect and do it in two hours.  Don’t force demands or higher standards upon yourself if that only works against you.

Got it? Deny, delay, divert, and dilute. In order to implement these four steps you must also step it up on your decision-making capacity as it relates to how you choose to spend your precious time. Also, don't underestimate the payoff you get from delivering something as promised, on time. Your successful track record gives you credibility and allows you to buy extra time or get the benefit of the doubt when you are running late or falling short on your deliverables.

Think of how these 4-steps could work in real life.  Let’s take dieting:

1.                  Deny = Don’t eat more than a certain amount of food each day – or a certain type.

2.                  Divert = In order to eat healthy, you could benefit from someone shopping for you and cooking that meal.

3.                  Delay = Even if you want to eat junk, hold off as long as you can.  Rather than caving in at 3 pm, wait until 8 or 9 pm.  By doing it later, you minimize a second breach that day, but if you cheat at 3 you likely will do so again by 9.

4.                  Dilute = Shrink your portions, substitute ingredients, and water down sweet or alcoholic drinks.

Shit, this really could work!  It requires planning, optimism, discipline – and hope.

Try it with your relationship.  Let’s say you love the one you’re with but you need to decrease the time you spend with him or her.  Let’s see how the 4 steps work:

1.                  Deny: Instead of having dinner together and watching TV and working out together, give up one activity.

2.                  Divert: Instead of going to your boyfriend for everything, see if a friend or family member can be of help or an adequate substitute.

3.                  Delay: Instead of meeting your date at 7 pm, push it back to 8:30 and the rest of the night can be spent together without feeling preoccupied by the things you needed to get done.

4.                  Dilute: Find shortcuts to things you tend to do with one another, especially if the activity isn’t particularly fun or rewarding.

I think these four steps work in all facets of life and especially for those in the creative worlds of book marketing, book publicity, and writing books.  

If you wasted 10 minutes reading this and didn’t find at least one time-saving idea that you can embrace, I’ll refund your money.  Oh wait, this blog is free. 

Maybe I need to cut down on blogging to save time.  

Nope, I love writing it!


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.