Seven Crucial Steps To Improve Your Time Management Skills


We may believe that we are masters of our lives. However, we are all servants—servants to a master called “Time.” It’s how we serve this master that will determine the quality of our lives.

Some years ago a research firm conducted a survey and asked, “If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you wish for?” To no one’s surprise, one wish which was at the top of the list was, “I wish I had more time to do all the things I want and need to accomplish.”

Too many of us just wish we had more time rather than doing what is necessary to more effectively use the time that we do have. The truth is that we will never be able to “get more time.”  Actually, time itself is nothing. Rather, it’s the consequences of time that are so very important.

All of us are so very careful about how we invest our money. Are we as careful about how we invest our time? Time is our most valuable asset.  It is worth far more to us than money which we safeguard so very carefully. Proper use of our time is the best way to avoid chaos in our lives.

Over the years, I have noticed that individuals who make the worse use of their time are those who most often complain that they do not have enough of it.  A sense of personal responsibility for the value of time is an essential preliminary to efficient use of time.

Here are seven suggestions on how to make the most effective use of your time every day of your personal and professional life.

Take Personal Responsibility For Good Time Management. In last month’s AdVisions Newsletter we stressed that we must have an Ownership Spirit rather than a Victim Mentality.  Too often we put the blame on other people or other circumstances for our time management problems.

David Kahle observed, “As long as we view ourselves as Time Management Victims, we are unable to change our poor time management habits and achieve better results.  Victims believe that it is not their fault that they are not using their time better.  Someone else caused it.  And because it is someone else’s doing, the power to fix it and make it better is someone else’s responsibility as well.  Victims always believe that they are powerless to fix poor time management concerns.”

The real freedom of any individual can always be measured by the amount of responsibility which he assumes for his own actions. When we realize that we are in control of our poor time management problems, we begin to feel a 500 pound weight lifted off our back.  The weight is gone because we have the knowledge that positive and diligent action on our part will eliminate poor time management habits; and, as Amy Worthington stated, “The acceptance of personal responsibility is a sail, powering us through rough waters and high seas to a more tranquil tomorrow.”

Plan Your Day’s Activities The Previous Day. If you wait until you get to work in the morning to plan your day, you will never make the best use of the day.  Alex Carrel reminded us that the most effective way to life a very productive life is to make a plan for the next day every evening. We must also examine the results obtained during the day.  The old adage is very true: “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Create a “To Do List” and prioritize  activities for the next day.  Also remember that  there is a huge difference between activity and productivity.  Keep this list in front of you all day and check off activities as they are completed.  It often helps to break huge projects into smaller tasks.  Remember, ”Yard by yard, things are hard; but inch by inch, they’re a synch.”

Constantly Evaluate The Importance Of The Day’s Activities. Years ago, Lou Holtz was asked how he was able to coach his Notre Dame football team to the national championship and win the game.  He said that at the very first spring football practice meeting he stressed to his athletes that they must constantly be asking themselves, “What’s Important Now.  What is the best use of my time at this very moment.”  Holtz called this The W.I.N. Mentality–that everyone on the football team must be constantly evaluating the importance of every daily action and placing that action in its proper priority.  We must do the same thing.  We must constantly be asking ourselves, “What’s important now.  What is the best use of my time right now.”

“Our days are identical suitcases—all the same size. Those who are wise know how to pack more into theirs than others. Ask someone to help you pack more into yours.”  — Ivy Conner

Identify Your Greatest Time Waster And Take Steps To Eliminate It From Your Life. Is disorganization your Achilles’ Heel?  Are you a perfectionist?  Do you have a very difficult time delegating certain tasks to others?  Do you find it impossible to tell other people ”No”?

Usually, we have many time-management challenges but one problem seems to surface more often than others.  Don’t try to overcome all your time problems at once, but rather work on the most demanding one first.  Psychologists have discovered that it takes twenty-one days to develop a habit.  Take your greatest time challenge and concentrate on eliminating it over the next month.  After thirty days, you should see significant progress.

Keep in mind that your bad habits took time to take hold of your life and that it will take time to replace them with good habits.  I love what Orison Marden said: “The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand.  We continue to add to it a multitude of filaments until the habit becomes a mighty and enduring cable.”

Have someone else hold you accountable for improvement. When you share your time management problem with someone else and ask this person to help you stay focused to improve, you will stay more committed to your goal.  Emerson said, “A true friend is someone who will push us to do what we are really capable of doing ourselves.”

Meet with this person on a regular basis and discuss your challenges and successes.  In most cases, friends will also ask you to hold them accountable to improve time management challenges they have.

Many years ago,  Ivy Conner shared with me something about time management that I’ll never forget.  He observed, ”Our days are like identical suitcases–all the same size.  Those who are wise know how to pack more into theirs than others. Ask someone to help you pack more into yours.”

Seek help from professionals. One of the largest sections at your local bookstore is the section on Time Management.  Thousands of books and articles have been written over the years offering suggestions on how to improve one’s time management skills.  We must constantly remind ourselves that good time management is definitely a skill; and,  through dedicated and diligent work, we can certainly improve this skill.

In another part of this newsletter, I have listed some great books that I’ve read over the years that have helped me improve my time management and organizational skills. However, all the advice in the world will not help us unless we first help ourselves.

Be very appreciative of each moment of time that you have been given. Without a doubt, the best advice I can suggest to improve your time management skills is to be aware how precious the gift time really is.  What we do each and every day is so very important because we are exchanging a day of our life for it.

Smart time management does not begin with the tools and tactics of your job.  You don’t start with a new PDA, labtop or iPod.  Rather, you begin with an internal appreciative attitude  that controls everything you do.  This attitude and group of beliefs are so deeply and firmly held that they are the source of almost all your thoughts and actions, influencing everything you do.  Your “mindset” shapes the way you see the world and, therefore, the way you do your job, the way you use your time, and the way you live your life

Kay Lyons said it so accurately when she observed, “Yesterday is a cancelled check.  Tomorrow is a promissory note.  Today is the only cash we have.  We must learn how to spend it wisely.”  How are you spending the time you have been given?  Time is a person’s most scared resource and, unless it is managed well, nothing else will ever be managed properly.

JL’s Moral: Use your time wisely because one day you will have to give an accounting of how it was spent.

Note: One of our most popular workshops for newspaper salespeople and sale managers is Improving Time Management and Organizational Skills.  Please contact us for more information on this workshop.

Are You Slogan Savvy?

1. Digitally Yours
2. Choose Freedom
3. Is it live or is it ____________?
4. Trusted everywhere
5. Welcome to the human network
6. Easy as ________
7. Think
8. Think different
9. Where do you want to go today?
10. Buy it.  Sell it.  Love it.

Answers are found at the bottom of this newsletter.

Industry Background: Full Service Restaurants

General Information
While many full-service restaurants are single, independently-owned enterprises, chain restaurants make up the majority of American restaurants.  In 2009, full service restaurants reported revenues of about $148.6 billion, a 2.5% nominal decline from 2008.  Consumers indicate that they enjoy dining out more at full-service restaurants, but the current economic downturn prevents them from eating out as often as they would like.

Consumers tend to eat breakfast and dinner out more frequently on weekends while about the same percentage eats out for lunch on both weekdays and weekends:

• Breakfast weekdays, 20.2%
• Breakfast weekends, 33.7%
• Lunch weekdays, 31.9%
• Lunch weekends, 32.8%
• Dinner weekdays, 16.9%
• Dinner weekends, 35.4%

Source: 2008 New American Diner Study, Restaurants & Institutions

Remind your advertisers to attract more attention by listing offered goods and services in their copy.  Here are a few items commonly offered by Full-Service Restaurants: Early Bird Specials, Live Music, Valet Parking, Vegetarian Options, Wedding Reception Planning, Private Rooms, Liquor Permit, Gift Certificates, Business Luncheons, Takeout Orders, Wines.

Annual Sales Per Location
The average annual sales per location for full-service restaurants is $756,840.  Certain holidays generate additional traffic.  The National Restaurant Association reports that 30% of consumers, earning at least $60,000 annually, dine out on Valentine’s Day.  Thirty percent of consumers also eat out on Mother’s Day.  Other popular holidays for eating out are: Easter, 14%; New Year’s Eve, 12%; Thanksgiving, 8%; St. Patrick’s Day, 7%; New Year’s Day, 7%; Christmas Day, 6%; Secretary’s Day, 6%.

The average family spends approximately $2,700 on meals away from home each year.

Source: Statistical Abstract, U.S. Census Bureau, 2009

Top Advertising Media Used

Consumer magazines: $145.6 million
Newspapers: $222.2 million
Outdoor: $245.8 million
Network TV: $1.525 billion
Spot TV: $1.29 billion
Cable Network: $1.145 billion
Syndicated TV: $234.1 million
Radio: $531.7 million
Internet: $68.1 million
Business publications: $2.2 million

Source: U.S. Measured Ad Spending by Category, Advertising Age, ‘09

Peaks and Valleys of Full-Service Restaurants

January: 7.8%
February: 8.7%
March: 8.4%
April: 8.3%
May: 8.9%
June: 8.5%
July: 8.7%
August: 8.9%
September: 8.2%
October: 8.4%
November: 8.0%
December: 8.3%

Source: U.S. Monthly Retail Sales.  U.S. Census Bureau, 2009

Advertising As A Percent of Gross Sales
According to Schonfeld & Associates, full-Service Restaurants invest approximately 2.7% of retail sales for advertising.

Great Books on Time Management

Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People – Steven Covey
10 Secrets of Time Management For Salespeople – Dave Kahle
Managing The Future – Robert Tucker
The Effective Executive – Peter F. Drucker
Delegate: The Key To Successful Management – Harold L. Taylor
The Management Of Time – James McCoy
Time For Success – Alex MacKenzie
The Time Trap – Alex McKenzie
How To Get Control Of Your Time and Your Life – Alan Lakein
Getting Things Done – Edwin Bliss
How To Get More Done In Less Time – Joseph Cooper
Manage Your Time, Work and Yourself – Merrill Douglass
Managing Time – Norman Kobert
Working Smart – Michael LeBoeuf
The Road Less Traveled – Scott Peck
Doing It Now – Edwin C. Bliss
Overcoming Procrastination – Albert Ellis and William Knaus
You’re In Charge – Janette Rainwater
Passages – Gail Sheehy
How To Triple Your Energy – Leonard Haimes and Richard Tyson
Maximum Performance – Laurence Morehouse
Strength Of Will And How To Develop It – Boyd Barrett

Advertising As A Percentage Of Gross Sales

(Continued from last month)

Business Services: 1.4%
Cigarettes: 2.2%
Commercial Printing: 7.2%
Communication Services: 7.4%
Computer and Office Equipment: 0.9%
Computer Communication Equipment: 0.4%
Computer Storage Devices: 0.3%
Convenience Stores: 2.7%
Dairy Products: 1.3%
Department Stores: 4.8%
Distilled and Blended Liquor: 16.8%
Dolls and Stuffed Toys: 10.9%
Drug & Proprietary Stores: 0.7%
Eating Places: 2.7%
Educational Services: 9.6%

Source: Schonfeld & Associates

Continued next month…

Test Your Knowledge

1. The percent of consumers who are willing to travel 10-19 miles to dine out at a full-service restaurant is:

a. 10%
b. 15%
c. 25%
d. 35%

2. The most frequent visitors to restaurants, buying an average of 4.5 meals away from home each week are:

a. Asian
b. Hispanic
c. African-American
d. Caucasian

3. The age group that eats out the most often are those between:

a. 18-24
b. 25-34
c. 35-49
d. 50-64
e. 65+

Find the answers to Test Your Knowledge at the bottom of this newsletter.

Objection Of The Month

I’ll advertise every once in awhile but I really don’t believe I need to advertise on a frequent basis.  I’m sure that if I advertise with a small ad every two or three months, that will be more than efficient. Plus, it’s just too expensive to advertise on a regular basis.

Newspaper Media Consultant:
Advertising should never be considered and expense but rather a very necessary weekly investment for your business success.  For the average business, the investment in advertising could be as low as three to four percent.

A study by the American Research Federation and American Business Press measured the profitability of products that were advertised with varying frequencies.  The research revealed that the more frequently advertised products resulted in higher profits; and the companies that advertised on a regular basis were much more profitable.

If you are not advertising as much as your competition, who is more likely to reach the customers when they are ready to buy?  The answer is obvious.  The customer will trust and remember the business that advertises on a regular basis.

Frequent advertising reaches the thin market when people are ready to buy, not just when you are ready to sell.  Finally, consistency in advertising is very similar to consistency in exercise—it produces great results.

Sales Tip Of The Month

All of us watch television but very few of us can remember the commercials we see.  The next time you have a conversation with a client or prospect and you hear them telling you that they want to try television to get their message out, ask them if they can recall the commercials they saw on television during the past week.  Most likely, they will only be able to remember a few of them.  Newspaper advertising, on the other hand, makes a must stronger and longer impression.

Television advertising may be okay for image building but newspaper is the very best media for price-point advertising; and, especially during these tough economic times, price-point advertising is the smartest way to generate business.

Ad Layout And Copy Suggestions

Components of a Good Layout

Border Borders should complement the look that you are developing with your ad and should never be the most prominent part of your ad.  Simple and straightforward is best.

Heading. Ad legend David Ogilvy once stated, “The headline is a key part of the sales message.  No matter how well the ad is presented, it can’t succeed if it’s not read.  If your headline does not include a selling message, you may be wasting 80 percent of your dollars.”

Illustrations A highly effective way to draw the reader’s attention to an ad is with a compelling illustration.  Studies have shown that an ad with an illustration that takes up fifty percent or more of the ad space increases readership by as much as thirty-seven percent.

Continued next month…

Media & Marketing Terms

Dealer Imprint – The name, address, and sometimes telephone number a local retailer adds to a manufacturer-prepared advertisement, leaflet, brochure, catalog, poster, etc. It is usually printed or stamped in a space provided for the purpose.

Dealer Listing – A list of local retailers added to an advertisement used over a large geographic area.  Such a list can be changed by city, state or region when an advertisement is run nationally, depending on whether the publication produces such local editions.

Dealer Loader – A premium given to retailers as an incentive to purchase a stated quantity of merchandise.  Also called Loader.

Dealer Space – The space on a brochure, flier, and so on, left blank for a dealer imprint.

Dealer Spot – A radio or television commercial furnished by a manufacturer for use in local markets.

Workshops We Conduct

Mastering The Advertising Sales Skills For Newspaper Websites
Seven Steps To More Successful Selling
Selling Against The Broadcast Media
Improving Formal Sales Presentation Skills
Mastering Negotiation Skills
Improving Telemarketing Sales Skills
Improving Ad Copy, Layout and Design Skills
Overcoming The Fear of Public Speaking
Perfecting Public Speaking Skills
Creating Customer Delight For Advertisers
Selling Against The Competition
Creating Three-Month Ad Campaigns For Larger Accounts
Developing Team Building Skills
Overcoming Objections With Skill Practice Exercises
Improving Time Management Skills and Organizational Skills
Understanding The Principles Of Marketing
Twelve Steps To Effective Leadership
Developing Coaching Skills For Today’s Salespeople
Creating The Team Environment At Your Newspaper
Operation Tri-Plan: Effective Account Advertising Planning

Learn more about our Workshops

Public Workshop: Generating Business During Tough Economic Times
Public Workshop: Seven Steps To Brand Your Retail Business
Public Workshop: Seven Remedies For Business Survival in 2010
Public Workshop: Steps To A More Effective Marketing & Advertising Plan
Public Workshop: Seven Steps For More Successful Retail Sales
Public Workshop: How To Provide Outstanding Customer Service
Public Workshop: How To Create A Solid Business Plan
Public Workshop: How To Create A Company Mission Statement

Learn more about our Public Workshops


Answers To Our Two Tests

Are You Slogan Savvy?
1. Samsung
2. Toshiba
3. Memorex
4. Duracell Batteries
5. Cisco Systems
6. Dell Computers
7. IBM
8. Apple Computers
9. Microsoft
10. eBay

Test Your Knowledge
1. (d) 35%
2. (a) Asian
3. (b) 25-34 age group

A Notice To Our Readers:

We’re honored to send you the AdVisions Newsletter each month.  Please send us the e-mail address of anyone you feel would also enjoy receiving it.  If for any reason you do not want to continue to receive our newsletter, please let us know.

We welcome your suggestions and comments.  Lindsey & Associates has been conducting Sales and Management Workshops for hundreds of newspapers throughout the United States and Canada since 1987.  Please call or e-mail us for a detailed outline of our classes and for a list of the many newspapers and newspaper associations where we have conducted workshops.