Improve Time Management Skills, a Simple but Effective Start

owl do it, ditch it, delay it

Here are four ways every wise leader, executive, and professional can improve time management skills starting today. 

1. Take action right now to deal with what is at hand. Do it.

2. Throw it in the garbage. Say “No.” Get it off your desk. Ditch it.

3. Give it to the appropriate person to deal with. Delegate it.

4. Put it aside for attention at a later and more opportune time, or until you have further input or information. Delay it.

Pure wisdom. You can literally gain hours every day by carrying out one of those four functions as often as possible.

In order to develop this into a habit, copy it and keep it in front of you for review several times daily for a few weeks until you are acting consistently. It’s a sure fire way to gain yourself valuable time.

"Napoleon is said to have...[put] all routine letters aside for two weeks before replying to them. He claimed that during that period most matters had taken care of themselves; those that had not, he could now handle in a more leisurely manner. On the other hand, whenever time was critical Napoleon moved swiftly. “The reason I defeated the Austrians, “ he once said, “is because they didn't understand the value of five minutes.” 

Edwin Bliss, Doing it Now

Five Days of Coaching to Apply Four Simple Solutions to Improve Time Management Skills


It's simple time management strategy.  But do you practice it?  We may be seasoned executive level leaders and still need to periodically examine how we do on the basics.  How are you doing?  Tell the truth and resolve to make needed changes.

The Coach asks:

  • When you reflect on your own record on "do it, ditch it, delegate it, or delay it," how have you been doing lately? 
  • What do you think has led to your not consistently practicing these simple basics? What needs to happen? 
  • What are you willing to do, starting today? What type of structure or support might you need to make it happen?
  • Resolve to improve time management skills in these few basic practices. 


Delegate something today that you have for too long kept on your own plate. Notice the relief.

The Coach asks:

  • What are you currently doing that someone else could, or should, be doing? 
  • Why to this point have you not delegated this? What needs to shift in your own thinking, attitude, or habit? 
  • Delegate something even though it might feel somewhat uncomfortable doing so. What did you notice when you gave someone else the responsibility to carry out the task or take the load? What kind of relief did it bring you? What lingering anxiety is there? How will you "let it go?"
  • What will you do with your "found time?" 


Today, practice clearing your desk, inbox or email more quickly.  Make good decisions promptly and act on them without further thought.  Be aware of doing this over the next few days.  Catch yourself being distracted and change direction immediately.

The Coach asks:

  • Be conscious and intentional throughout this day to practice these four habits. Don't dither. Make the decision and follow through. 
  • Do this for another few days. Pause and examine when it doesn't seem to work as you thought, or when you need to approach it differently. Make adjustments as you go along to bring things to completion and free up valuable thinking and physical time.
  • What distractions are tending to pull you off being consistent. Unless it's important, eliminate the distraction. How has that improved things? Anything else need to happen? 
  • How does it feel to have an empty inbox? (or whatever else you acted on) 


Here's a daring way to improve time management skills. Take hold of the bottom two inches of your inbox pile.  Throw it in the garbage. This one act will improve your efficiency significantly.  Do the same thing next week until you get it.

The Coach asks:

  • If you can't seem to deal with that pile of "stuff" in your inbox, (or the digital equivalent,) remove the bottom two inches of paper and put it in the garbage can or recycling bin. How did that strike you? So, either take care of it now, or go on and remove another layer or so of "stuff." Do it now. 
  • What have you learned from this shocking exercise? What will it cause you to do from here on? 
  • What is it that has allowed you to let things stack up like this? Please don't make an excuse. Just the facts. For some reason you let the pile grow when you probably didn't really have to.
  • What could prompt you to never let this happen again? 


Articulate the difference between procrastination and good delay.  Notice yourself doing both today. Practice good delay if and when the situation is appropriate.

The Coach asks:

  • Sometimes wisdom would dictate that it's good to "sit" on something for a day or two. Running hastily into something can have bad consequences. This is different from procrastination. What is that difference? 
  • What sorts of situations, requests, decisions etc in your area of leadership, indicate that "waiting" would be wise? How have you traditionally handled this? What's your default method of dealing with these things? 
  • Practice good delay today? Not procrastination because you are immobile, but prudent waiting until a wise course of action is indicated. 
  • What will you carry forward in terms of "good delay?" 

Spiritual Reflection for Christian Leaders

Gary Wood Christian Executive Leadership Coach

As a Christian Executive Leadership Coach I encourage Christian leaders to reflect on God's Word to add to their wisdom.

  • Do it - Mt 7:24  Therefore everyone who hears these words ofmine and puts them into practice is like a wish man ...
  • Ditch it - Ecc 3:6  A time to keep and a time to throw away
  • Delegate it - Ac 6:3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word
  • Delay it - Pr 25:7,8  What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the ned if your neighbor puts you to shame?
  • Delay it - Pr 13:16 NLT  Wise people think before they act; fools don't - and even brag about their foolishness

If you are a leader, executive, or senior level professional looking to work with a Christian Executive Coach, I invite you to connect with me here.

If appropriate, we can meet by phone or Zoom to discuss your situation. 

Record Your Progress

This is your opportunity to track your progress. Start by asking yourself how important this practice is to you? Record the importance as - not at all, somewhat, fairly, highly or extremely. 

Now next to it ask yourself how well you carry out this practice. Record your performance as - very poor, poor, okay, good or very good. 

Importance Performance Check

The things we track, we pay attention to. Across time, come back and record your new results. You will find that as you are intentional about making improvements, you will bump your "score" up higher. 

This is significant. Don't miss the opportunity to acknowledge your success, and use it as a springboard for making even further gain. 


Sometimes we get it into our head that something complex must be the solution to help us improve time management skills. Nothing could be further from the truth. 

Really productive leaders get a lot of very important things done, not by doing complex things, but by day-in, day-out, practicing simple things. Things like do it, ditch it, delegate it, or delay it. 

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G.E. Wood and Associates is an international coaching firm registered in Ontario, Canada
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