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How do you handle time management?

crazy clock

Time Management shouldn't be so confusing

Time Management: Mystery or Magic?

Ok here we go into the wonderful and sometimes mystical world of “time management”.

When you ask  many young and even seasoned professionals about their time management skills they suddenly lower the head and speak into their chest just like a child who knows he’s done something wrong.  Time management is a powerful tool and I’ve met several successful business people and athletic achievers that tout it as “their” secret to success. A couple of great examples for my are my former boss and mentor, Terry Farmer, and many of the excellent athletes that make up the Camosun Chargers College athletic program. These “kids” really have it together! We all know we need time management skills but either feel like we’ve never really achieved what we need to, or even worse, are completely intimidated by the subject. Find your examples as I have. They are all around you I promise.

Camosun Chargers Awards 2010

Camosun Chargers athletes have time management all figured out

Simply put, all time management means is creating a plan. You’ve all heard the saying  “Fail to plan, plan to fail”. I don’t say that your going to fail without time management but…… Planning your time allows you to do two things; list your goals, targets and objectives and see where you are on the road to achieving them. Notice I mentioned that other big word GOALS. I could write another whole article just on that subject, but let’s at least acknowledge that you need to have some clear goals or targets before you create a plan to achieve them.  “Can’t run a the race if you don’t know where the finish line is!”

You’ll find out there that there are many courses, tools and methods to help you management your time. Don’t feel that you have to follow someone else’s planning method. I have attended several seminars while staying at our Vancouver BC hotel and spoken with many people over the years and feel the best method is the one that works for you!

Lesson two – be flexible. I have adjusted and changed how I manage my time several times over the years. Adjust your methods to match what your needs are. They will change over the years as they have for me. My needs as the Victoria hotel assistant manager were far different than when I was a regional sales manager, to now that I am the Business Development Manager for the Accent Inn BC Hotel Chain. Feel free to try different methods until you are comfortable with the one that works for you.

participants at Accent Inns Burnaby seminar

Participants learning from panel members at the InnAid "Charity in Changing times" seminar

Ok I know some of you are saying, ”that’s all great advice but I still don’t know how to do it?” As I have said there are many methods out there such as Computer programs (outlook, CRM etc..) and even the tried and true Daytimer. There are several courses that “teach” the subject or have time management included as part of the curriculum. We get several booked every year in our hotel meeting rooms. Once you’ve decided that you really want to get your “time” organized ( a conscious effort here is required!) you will have to see which system works best for you. They all have their pluses and minuses and I certainly have tried many before coming to the system I’m using now. As my career and life changes I may once again change my systems and that’s O.K. The big message here is that you really need a system , one that works for you and let’s you achieve your personal objectives.

Before I tell you how I handle time management let me tell you why I need it in my life and I think many of you will relate.  I have a wonderful family which includes a young daughter that means everything to me (my office is filled with her pictures,drawings and mementos)  I have a career that is not just 9 to 5, I belong to or are in charge of several separate association boards, I try to take as many courses, or attend seminars, as possible (knowledge is indeed power) and I like to “try” and maintain and active “outdoor” lifestyle.  I love to explore the world around me. Sound familiar?

So let’s look at why planning is so important and what are my priorities:

  • Spending “family” time and providing a good emotional connection with my wife and daughter – this involves everything from just spending time, to running around to activities (swimming lessons, dance lessons, basketball games, etc..)
  • Allowing time to connect with colleagues  and other professionals and attend functions that benefit my employer and career.
  • Being available to work around deadlines and tight schedules (not always easy!) and to provide quality in the relationships with my fellow Accent Inn team members, customers and  business partners.
  • Attending Networking opportunities and tradeshows like the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce mixers or Vancouver Island Outdoor Adventure Expo.
  • Providing quality input and support to organizations I work with as part of the Accent Inns InnAid program and groups that I believe in, both professional and personal.
  • Allow time to study or learn about items that will benefit my personal and career lives.
  • We all need time to rejuvenate our bodies and minds (miss this and you’ll find other things will suffer)

So, the big question is how do I/you get all these things to fit into our life without feeling like we are never achieving or fulfilling our needs. PLANNING!

Whether you use Outlook, a Paper calendar or CRM system make sure everything you need/want to do makes it onto the list. Prioritize everything, business and personal. Break everything down into all the steps or items you need to do to complete your objectives or…..Goals! Be prepared to make choices.

I have several special things I like to do with my daughter and I make sure to plan a time to do them. They get placed on my calendar and nothing is allowed to change them. Since I enjoy being married, I also try to communicate (try…) with my wife and schedule in time when she could use my help watching our daughter or make sure she also has  some personal time to go out etc..  This may sound funny but it works. By planning my personal time I avoid conflicts when scheduling my many work related events.

Now the other important thing to do is to really breakdown what’s required for your job or career. Since I work for a Victoria  hotel business I need to plan time to connect with community partners , vendors like StepForth Web MarketingRadarhill or the Tartan Group. I need to monitor the internet and  maintain contact with our Accent Inn team. I continue to attend networking opportunities and learn or continue my training (never stop learning). I have a system now where I have broken my job requirements down by year, by month and by week. I also have done the same for my goals, targets and objectives. I have scheduled in time to follow up on blogs and time to connect all my business friends (oh and answer emails from my boss quickly and efficiently!). Not only does a system like this really help keep me organized (and that’s a challenge…!) it also allows me to monitor my progress. Have I reached my weekly goal? If note why not? What did I do and how can I plan differently. It’s much easier to examine items and make changes on a smaller scale than a big one. Peter Thomas gave a great speech on this and I’d recommend his book, be great!. You’ll also find that if you continue to reach your smaller objectives you’ll not only have a great sense of accomplishment but eventually the larger targets and goals will automatically be achieved as the small ones add up! This not only gets the job done, it also is so important to your emotional sense of well being. Seeing those items ticked off as completed is a great boost and in turn will motivate you to keep going.

So to end, Time management is all about finding “your” way to plan just about everything in your life and keep a record of all your achievements. Do it, and you’ll reach the level of success that you have always wanted!

a maze at hever castle

Finding your way doesn't have to be a maze

Written by John Espley, Business Development Manager for Accent Inns.

Article was originally published in Douglas Magazine and has been updated to follow John’s career. The Publishers of Douglas have been fantastic sponsors of Sales and Marketing Executives of Victoria of which John is a past president.