3 Ways to Take Control of Your Time

BY Jessica Helinski
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If you find yourself still falling behind despite your best efforts, it’s time to reevaluate your time management strategy. RAIN Group President Mike Schultz, in a recent article, shares three strategies that he calls game-changers.

The first strategy he suggests is to “obsess over TIME.” Schultz doesn’t mean reps should schedule every minute of every day. Instead, he encourages them to be mindful about how they devote their time. Get to know what you are really spending your minutes on by logging your activities. Label each item as one of the following:

Treasured: Time you hold dear; time that brings you happiness (e.g., spending time outdoors)
Investment: Time that generates outsized returns (e.g., activities marching you toward your goals)
Mandatory: Time you feel you must spend (e.g., making healthy meals)
Empty: Time you waste (e.g., watching the third episode in a row of Orange is the New Black)

After about a week, you should have a good snapshot of how you are spending your time. Schultz encourages reps to define what each activity means specifically to them (mandatory vs. investment, etc.). “Any activity has the potential to be categorized differently depending on who you ask,” he explains. “There's no right or wrong answer. The goal of this exercise is for you to gain a better understanding of where your time is going and areas where you can improve.” While you may think you know where your time is going, this activity can really shine light on how you spend each day. Likely, you'll be surprised at your findings.

Once you’ve revealed how you are actually spending your time, the next strategy is to say “no.” This won’t be easy, but you need to do so if you want to take back control of your time. You’ve logged your time and evaluated your priorities; now, take action. “Turning others away gives you more time to concentrate on what's most important for you,” he writes. “Be mindful of how you communicate saying no to these requests and you'll be able to focus on your own priorities while still maintaining positive working relationships.” He shares ways to say “no” that are both professional and gentle yet still get the message across.

Be sure to check out Schultz’s article for his third time-​management strategy. His three tips can help get a clear picture of how you spend your time and guide you through a personalized reboot of your system. You’ll be ready to take control of your time by the new year!