It's YOUR Time. Take Charge of It.

By Dawn Lospaluto
In January 7, 2011

Now that the first week of the new year is just about over, how are your 2011 business resolutions faring? Are you more focused? More productive? Have you put your resolutions into effect?

If the number of phone calls we invariably receive on the first or second day after the long holiday hiatus are any indication, most people really vow to hit the ground running when they break open the new day planner. Unfortunately, many soon run aground instead, falling victim to lingering problems of the past, old habits, and an inability to do everything they want or need to do in the amount of time available.

It’s been said that everyone gets the same 24 hours in each day, and that the difference between those who get everything done and those who always seem to “run out of time” is how they choose to spend those hours. The key to making your 24 hours accommodate all you want to accomplish is to make it your time and manage it, rather than letting it manage you.

Do you start your day by reading all your emails? If so, you are at the mercy of everyone who wants to grab your attention. Don’t let them steal your time. Give your email list a quick scan and open only those messages important to your workday. Ignore the rest at least until all your vital daily activities have been handled.

Do you receive text messages at work? They can be even more intrusive, demanding an immediate response regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Make it clear to your texters that unless they have a significant problem, you will not respond until the end of the day.

Does your “open door” policy mean that anyone can interrupt you at any moment with any question or problem, no matter how trivial? Structure your availability. Of course, grant immediate access for critical issues, but set aside a specific 15-30 minutes at or near the end of the day for those whose problems or questions can easily wait a few hours.

Do meetings drain your time and energy? Attend only those meetings where your presence is really necessary. Insist that every meeting has a specific start and finish time, an agenda to ensure key issues are covered during that time, and is managed so that it ends at or before the time allotted.

Treating time as a precious—and very limited—commodity that must be managed as carefully as you would any other finite resource will help you become more focused, less frazzled, and more likely to actually fulfill those 2011 business resolutions.

Dawn Lospaluto

Epicomm Senior Director of Communications, Dawn has been the editor of Epicomm 's "Bottom Line" magazine and its predecessor publications, "NAPL Business Review," Printing Manager," and "The Journal of Graphic Communications Management," for 20 years. She also writes and edits several Epicomm member print and electronic newsletters, including [Re]View, Management Bulletin, Highlights, and Discover; press releases; and various marketing materials; and oversees Epicomm 's book publishing program. Dawn previously served as corporate managing editor for Allied (now Honeywell) Corporation and as a reporter and editor for New Jersey's largest evening newspaper. She is a graduate of Douglass College (Rutgers University) and holds an M.A. degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she has served on the adjunct faculty.

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