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Industry Insight: Too Busy To Breathe?
The need for time management and the difference between strategy and tactics...
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Need Some Help
In my view, controlling time is really the key. Without it, all other issues in your business (and your life) will instead control you.

Breaking out of this mode requires very disciplined time management. How do you get there? As with many things, it starts with admitting some help might be in order.

There are many very good time management programs available. For example, FranklinCovey, a noted business productivity firm, has highly useful materials available, consisting of both classes and materials to assist in both controlling time and planning.

In addition to the available resources, there are some simple things you can do right now to get things moving in the right direction.

For example, when planning the use of time, write it down. Keeping a detailed log will quickly help you pinpoint where time is being spent and wasted. You’ll be able to clearly track how time can evaporate even while you’re “busy” all day, every day.

Chatting with people (be it colleagues or otherwise) is a common culprit. Talking on the phone and “around the water cooler” can account for a significant drain, and often, we don’t even realize it.

It’s also vitally important to differentiate between discussions that “count” and those that are just for fun. Take this further by setting priorities: a “need to do” list of discussions and a “nice to do” list. (I believe you’ll figure out which list gets higher priority.)

A Point On It
Meetings. Ugh, the great time waster. All meetings must have a specific agenda and goals to be attained, and these drive the process.

Attendees should come to meetings prepared to make decisions, not just discuss topics.Every meeting must be assigned a “closed end” schedule, complete with hard finish time. Let’s be honest – the vast majority of meetings should be done within an hour.

My meeting mantra: “Stick to the subject. Come to a decision. Assign duties. And we’re outta here!”

I’ve found that many of the modern organizational tools – electronic organizers, PDAs, software for your PC, and the like – can be of considerable help. Pick the format that works best for you in this regard, and then stick with it.

You’ll quickly notice a difference. The tool itself isn’t all that important; rather, it’s the commitment to using the tool as a mechanism that will then drive you to adhere to better time management. (It’s all in the consciousness.)

Time management is a constant and perpetual challenge. And you will fail - count on it! The important thing is to strive for perfection while accepting incremental improvement.

Realize that backslides are part of the game and you may have to start over (and over) again.

Plan on taking a time management class every year. This will push the topic to the front of your mind, keeping your focus squarely on the value of time.

Then, be fruitful and multiply. Your time management strategies, once honed, must matriculate to the entire organization. With everyone on the same program, there’s the exponential effect of better individual output as well as improved cooperation among the team.

When it’s all said and done, you can only get ahead if you make the time to plan out the path. Without this, there’s simply no way to measure results and begin navigating forward.

Time management is the key, but the trick is making the time to plan for time management

Michael MacDonald is the president of leading production company ATK Audiotek, based in Valencia, CA, and has been involved in the professional audio industry for more than 30 years. Beginning as a freelance mixer/engineer in the 1970s, he transitioned to working for manufacturers and has been employed by, developed products for, and consulted with major companies such as JBL Professional.

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