25 Time Management Tips for Retail Managers

Sometimes effective time management means getting organized and other times it means just saying “no.” Here are 25 tips to keep you focused and save you time.

1.       Know your priorities – Every day you need to touch your customers, your people, your store and your money.  Everything else is a secondary priority.

2.       Use the 4-1-1-1-1  rule – Dedicate one hour to training your team, one hour to your paperwork, one hour to improving store appearance, and one-hour to planning each day.  The remaining four hours should be spent managing from the floor and contacting customers! 

3.       One important question – Ask yourself if what you are doing is either urgent or important.  If it’s neither, move on to something else.

4.       Delegate – Good time management means using your time for activities that require your specific skills and then letting your people grow by doing new things.

5.       Use a planning tool – Make plans on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

6.       Use a quick reference tool – Create a page in your planner or organizer for frequently called numbers and maintain an e-mail address book. These will save you the time of looking up each individually.

7.       Use a calendar for advance planning – You and your team members should note when you will be away from the store or office. Plan your schedule around those times.

8.       Color code your files – This includes your physical files and your emails.  You will locate files up to 50 percent faster.

9.       Eliminate clutter – Make sure your desk is free of excess paper, gadgets or other distractions.

10.   Turn off the Internet – The Internet and email are two huge distractions.  Make a plan to check email twice a day.  In between, turn it off.

11.   Turn off the phone too – The average person spends over two hours a day texting or on social media….turn off the cell phone to eliminate this distraction!

12.   Bookend your day – Consolidate appointments so that they are scheduled in the morning or late the afternoon.  This will free up the rest of your time for productive work. The same goes for meetings.

13.   Use the “Swiss Cheese” method – For overwhelming tasks (taking inventory, etc.) break them up into smaller tasks and spread them over several days.

14.   Use drive time wisely – Listen to educational and motivational audiotapes or CDs while driving to appointments or waiting in traffic. It’s a great way to use this down time effectively.

15.   Make tomorrow’s “to-do” list today – Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to prepare a “To Do” list for tomorrow. Know your top three priorities for tomorrow before going home.

16.   Eat the frog – If you have a task that you hate to do…do it first and get it out of the way to avoid procrastination.

17.   Use the “One-Touch” rule – Whether it is a document or an email, you should only touch it once.  Either read it and throw it away/delete; read it and take action; or read it and file it for reference.

18.   Just say “no” – If something you’ve been asked to do is not important to get you where you want to go, it’s not worth your time.

19.   Work at peak times – Identify the time of day when you work at peak performance. Schedule at least one hour during that time to tackle your most challenging work.

20.   Use a timer – a simple kitchen timer is a great tool for keeping you focused.  Give yourself an hour to complete a task and the timer will reinforce your deadline!

21.   Focus – Do one task at a time and give it your undivided attention until completed before going on to the next.

22.   Use a Routine – Set a specific time to do recurring, routine paperwork, whether weekly or monthly, and block out the time on your calendar. Allocating this time assures these tasks will be remembered and completed.

23.   Block your day – Schedule blocks of time in the morning and the afternoon to make phone calls, do email or other tasks.  This cuts down on constant interruptions.

24.   Manage others’ time – When leaving a phone message, advise the best time to call you. On your voice mail, ask callers to let you know the best time to call them.

25.   Use templates – Make computer templates of all documents you create regularly – letters, fax cover sheets, contracts, expense reports and proposals.  Why start from scratch every time?

David Goodwin is the Principal of the Retail Advocacy Group.  As a 30 year veteran of the retail industry he operated hundreds of retail locations, launched his own retail businesses, and managed retail channels on behalf of Fortune 50 companies.  Retail Advocacy group offers consulting services for retailers and also offers retail training solutions through its Retail Training Service subsidiary.   You can learn more about instructor-led, e-learning, and other retail training programs at www.retailertrainingservices.com.