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Drew Stevens photoThe cliché time is money, is the guidepost for most selling professionals. Time is the one item you do not get to reinvent or get back. Once it’s gone it’s gone. The reward for managing your time is the enrichment of not only your professional life, but also your personal life. And, good time management also gets you closer to your goals. You must focus on your highest priorities and consistently place them first. The added benefit of a well-organized work schedule is the creation of time for family, friends and the leisure activities that rejuvenate and refresh you.

With only 24 hours in a day, how can all the calls, the reports and the tasks get completed? Simply put, planning. Planning is the most vital aspect of every professional career. Business professionals particularly should plan the order of their appointments so as not to retrace steps; they should plan when to respond to e-mail. If possible, they should plan where and when to visit clients so not to spend too much time in the car.

Typically, most of us respond to what we believe are urgent matters and forget to pre- plan and be proactive. They become Emergency Medical Technicians for all incoming work. The red light goes on and salespeople immediately scurry to get that item completed immediately.

Proactive planning makes the day less daunting and helps you get more accomplished in less time. If you respond to all that comes in, you will never accomplish any of the important items. Here are successful tips:

1. Grouping appointments either in the morning or in the afternoon. Sporadically making appointments during the day leaves little room for other things.

2. Replying to telephone calls and emails four to five times per day rather than right away. Stop being reactive and create proactive activities to make the day less intimidating.

3. Prioritizing your tasks using letters, numbers and color-coding. Creating visuals and lists immediately connects you with what must be done first. We will address this later in this article.

My program Pump Up Your Productivity™ contains a 12- step formula for assistance with prioritization and planning. Created here is the list of the top five.

1. Use a planner – Electronics and technology creates a vast array of tools and gadgets to enable efficiency in our day. The issue is that many people do not use them or cannot utilize them during certain times, i.e. driving an automobile or while shopping. With over 25 years in business and several electronic tools at my disposal (Outlook and an iPhone), I still use a paper planner. It is always at my disposal and never needs to be rebooted because it crashed.

2. Work backward – Begin your days with what needs to be accomplished on completion of the day. Begin the day with the end in mind. Visualize what you need to do before the sun runs out.

3. Minimize distractions – Forestall the interruptions. Refrain from enabling others to distract your day. Stick to your plan and get more done. Create a healthy selfishness and learn to use the word NO!

4. Create routines – Regularity creates habit. Structure the day around specific events or even specific clients and neighbors. It is not customary to build a day reflecting a maze.

5. Do not dwell on unpleasant situations – We all castigate ourselves. When things go awry we create self doubt and intensify the experience. This throws us off from our tasks and responsibilities. Learn to compartmentalize and move forward.

There are numerous things you can do to simplify your life and your practice. A best practice is prioritization. Many professionals operate haphazardly, rushing from one issue to another without a plan. Prioritizing your daily events enables you to maximize your time, minimize the issues and end the day happily.

I propose one of two options for you dependent on your personal taste. The first emulates time-honored pundits. Prioritization is about placing first things first. And the first step is to obtain a planner or use some electronic device that enables you to record important To Do items and appointments. Recent surveys illustrate that over 45% of individuals miss appointments or fail to accomplish imperative issues because they fail to record them.

Once your begin to record your day, one of the most essential elements is to record your lists of To Do’s. There are two steps to this process. In a margin or on the events portion of the planner list your items using an alphabetic code. Simply write down or keypunch all the things you need to do within the next week. Then begin to code the items using an alphabetical symbol. To exemplify use an “A” for items that need to be complete in the next 12 to 24 hours; use a “B” for items that need to be complete in the next 24 to 48 hours and finally use a “C” for items that need to be complete in the next 48 to 72 hours or personal items.

Now review your list again and be realistic. Not everything in the list needs to be complete within 24 hours. Theoretically, you should have no more than three to four items in each of the respective alpha categories. Here are some additional points to ponder for prioritization:

1. Get up early. The clichй of early to bed early to rise is true: you get more done when lethargy is not prevalent in your life.

2. Direct others to maintain your order. You are the master of your fate and the more you delegate and control situations the easier the day becomes.

3. Invest in things that assist you. Purchase planners, cell phones, directories, computer equipment, etc. Being frugal saves money but does not win you time.

4. Be selfish. Learn to say “No”. Be respectful and learn to say no when possible. Affirming all that comes into your day only throws you out of focus.

Creating change alters the comfort zone. However, when you begin to make changes you begin to see the timesavings you desire. You also eliminate stress. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see."."

Drew Stevens PhD is known as the Sales Strategist. Drew assists organizations to dramatically accelerate business growth. He is the author of seven books including Split Second Selling and Split Second Customer Service and Little Book of Hope and is frequently called on the media for his expertise. Get a FREE download Drew’s White Paper on Selling Effectiveness or Business Building e-book at http://www.gettingtothefinishline.com


Published - October 2008

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