Do you ever feel that you’re always wasting time? That the more you hurry the further behind you get? In this information and computer-driven world, our list of things to do can seem to go on forever. Through the years I’ve developed some strategies to help better manage my time and create more balance in my life. Here are five suggestions for you to consider:


When you concentrate on a task, you focus your attention and your energy. You’ve got to block out the distractions. When I’m very busy I don't answer every phone call unless I know it is an emergency. I implement the “Dr. Pepper” approach to answering calls, checking messages at 10-2-4. Some calls I’ll return at a time when I can leave a detailed message. This is just one way to give yourself more time to focus on what’s important.

Honor your clock

Are you a morning person who jumps out of bed at 5 a.m. rarin' to go? Or are you a night owl who can't function before 10 a.m.? If you're a morning person, schedule presentations and make important decisions early in the day while you're in your prime. If you're slow to get going, schedule important activities in the afternoon or early evening.

If you don't honor your time clock you’ll find that you run out of gas in the middle of the week without time to re-charge your batteries. You don’t want to be running on empty in that big meeting with your plant manager or the president of your company.

Motivate yourself and others to take action.

A whole lot of time is spent scratching our heads over how to motivate people. I use a simple concept called “psycho-geometrics”. It comes from “Psycho Geometrics : How to Use Geometric Psychology to Influence People,” by Susan Dellinger. Here’s how it works:

Ask your co-workers to select their two most favorite geometric shapes from among a circle, square, rectangle, triangle, and sine wave. Their choices can give you some insight into how to motivate them.

If they picked a circle they are probably smooth, accommodating, adaptive, well-rounded, people-oriented, and talkative.

If they picked a square, they are task-oriented, analytical, logical, organized, orderly, and detail-oriented.

If they picked a rectangle, they are more flexible than a square (wider base), not as precise as a square, a team player, cooperative, and fair.

If they picked a triangle, they are task-oriented (get to the point), power-oriented, interested in moving up, a person who likes to do several things at once, and a person who looks at all angles.

If they picked a sine wave, they are open and flexible, free thinking, visually-oriented, non-directive, and intuitive.

Use this quick assessment tool to help you understand the needs and expectations of those who work with you and for you, and to help shape the way you communicate.

Know when to act

Ask two questions about every activity or issue that comes across your desk: “What is its value?” and “What is the deadline?”

Does the activity have value? — Don’t do things just because you’re in the habit of doing them. Try to determine if there is a better way. Also, think about if you need to do a particular task at all. If you don’t, stop doing it. Make sure you’re improving the process rather than taking away from the process. Don't touch anything that you cannot add value to.

Does the activity have a deadline? — Decide when to schedule the activity: today, tomorrow, by the end of the week, two weeks, next month, next quarter or next year. Just because it comes across your desk today doesn’t mean you have to do it today. Use what I call a “near-term” calendar for activities or projects with deadlines more than two weeks away. Deadlines that are more immediate go on a “short-term” calendar.

Work smarter every day

Try to learn something every day. I once overheard a comment while attending a leadership conference that has stuck with me over the years. Someone said, "I'm only 41 years old, but I read at the 43-year-old level." This person is learning every day. That’s the kind of person I want to be.

I try to improve my communications skills every day. Fifty percent of all communications fail. I try to repeat myself whenever necessary and try to make my first communication clear and within the attention span of the listeners.

These are just a few of the secrets I use to get things done. Remember, we never have time to do it right, but you always have time to do it over.