14 Steps of Time Management for Retail Managers

14 Steps of Time Management for Retail Managers

Retail is Different When it Comes to (trying to) Manage Time

But, there are a few Tried, Tested and True Steps that can Make Your Life Easier

A couple of weeks ago, we said we would soon provide 14 Time Management  Steps that would apply to retailers in the field just as well as others. 

Of course, we left out things that do not apply to people who work in the field in retail and other service industries…those who cannot simply close the office door or get to the bottom of their inbox by working late!! 

Here you go…

14 Time Management Steps for Success:

1.) Know what you’re doing – Make a list of all of the things you routinely take care of during a normal day/week/month and assign a number of minutes or hours to each one. 

This exercise will draw your attention to things that are taking up too much of your valuable time. 



Awareness of this will assist you in determining which activities can be stopped altogether, delegated or combined with other activities to save time.

2.) Take a look at your personal speed and energy level – People who get a lot done are moving fast most of the time. It’s difficult, in fact, to get them to slow down. If you’re not accustomed to it, try walking through a mall with a high achieving ‘go-getter’ of a District Manager and you’ll probably be out of breath in no time!

If you find that you’re moving a little on the slow side, try putting a bit more energy into everything you do. Move a little faster each day. This applies to getting things done as well as decision making. Perhaps you could try some comfy shoes and a smaller load in the briefcase.

3.) Define what’s important to you  – Goals will include, but are not limited to, your top success factors. In any case, they need to be well defined so that you can clearly see what kind of time allotment and resources will be needed to reach them. Remember, we’re talking out YOUR goals – those things that move YOUR business forward.

4.) Prioritize– Any activity or task that will not move you closer to your achievement in your top success factors is not worthy of much of  your time. Keep a log of what you are doing with your time for a couple of weeks and then review it to make sure that all of your time has, in fact, been spent on top success factors. (Refer to Step #1)


5.) Work with To Do Lists – Daily or weekly, nicely prepared or scribbled…a ‘to do’ list must be created. It must include only those things that you have deemed to be priorities based on your top success factors. Others may inadvertently influence your ‘to do’ list unless you are very careful. Just remember whose ‘to do’ list it is.

For some people, having a ‘to-do’ list is as natural as having their watch or their wallet! For others, it may seem like just one more thing they have to do. So…

Why is it important to use a to do list?

  • We can’t necessarily keep everything in our memory and, even if we could, why waste the brain space when you can jot it down on paper?
  • Seeing the list of things written down on paper helps you to prioritize. 
  • Any possible duplication of effort can be seen at a glance.
  • You get the satisfaction of checking things off the list as they are accomplished.

6.) Consider and Plan everything as an Appointment – Make a plan for your day, week or month and create appointments. If you plan to do something at 9:30 a.m., and have determined that ‘activity’ requires a 45 minute appointment, then do it in the 45 minutes you have scheduled it for. Appointments/scheduled activities should have a start and finish time and should not be left open ended.

7.) Squeeze time allotments – Any activity, task, project or meeting can easily expand to use up all of the time allotted to it. For this reason, you should always schedule less time than you might have thought you required. Things tend to be handled more efficiently and effectively when a tighter time frame is in place. 

8.) Organize everything that matters to you – In retail, particularly if you operate in a multi-unit environment, you must be highly organized. Finding out what’s happening at which store and who is leaving and who needs training, etc….is just a typical hour in a day…a drop in the bucket! 

You need a system for reducing clutter (of your space and your mind) if you are to function at top effectiveness. If your work life is full of clutter, that clutter is probably preventing you from getting things done.

Make a point of regularly clearing out junk that you don’t need or use anymore. ‘Stuff’ should be thrown out if it is not useful to you. You should schedule ‘clutter removal’ as an appointment at least once a month.


9.) Delegate – Presumably you have competent people working for you so you should be able to delegate according to their particular strengths and availability. Even if you need to break a larger project down into smaller, more manageable pieces it will help you and it will help in development your people.

You’ll need to consider these things, among others depending on your situation, when deciding what to delegate:

  • If a bad decision is made regarding this issue – what is the impact? Is it easily reversed? Will it negatively affect others? Will it be expensive, for the company, to correct or reverse?

10.) Say “NO”- Although it’s not always possible, neither is it always impossible. You need to know how to determine what you should say “no” to. If someone asks you to take on a project or task that will not necessarily advance your cause – or contribute to your top success factors – then you need to start with “no”.   If you find there is no alternative but to accept the project or task, then you need to look for items on your to do list that can be moved to another time slot or ‘appointment time’ or delegated.

11.) Remain flexible and reschedule often – You will need to allow for the unexpected. The idea of planning your work and working your plan is a very good one, but  you still have to remain flexible. You have to be prepared to reschedule if the situation warrants it, as any business person does. That’s not to say that you should just roll with whatever is vying for your time, but once you identify the need, then it only makes sense to be flexible.


12.) Allow yourself some scheduled down time  It doesn’t sound right but it’s important. This is what will keep you going. We can’t have every minute of every day pinned down – sometimes we have to just enjoy some quiet time….whatever that means to you. Having no time when you can do ‘whatever’ you want leads to frustration due to lack of control over your life and time.

13.) Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can   if something is important to you and your success, but  seems overwhelming just remember to take some action. Put one foot in front of the other and, eventually, you will likely get where you intend to be. That holds true for accomplishing big jobs, too.

  • Break big projects into smaller pieces. 
  • Get help from others.
  • Good may be fine, and perfection not necessary.
  • Take steps toward the objective rather than putting it off until you have more TIME.

14.) Take good care of yourself – go to bed at a reasonable time, wake up early and take good care of your health.

Get to the store early! 

Whether it’s your own store or one of a group of stores you manage, being there early gives you time to accomplish more by the time the store opens. The early bird gets the worm! The early riser gets more done while they are still energetic. It’s a great feeling to know that you’ve accomplished half of your to do list with so much of the day still in front of you. And, look at the great example you are setting.

As far as your health goes, we don’t profess to know enough about the human body and it’s nutritional requirements to provide advice on that topic. 

Suffice to say you must take good care of your health if you want to operate at the top of your game and make the best use of all of your waking hours. 

Eat a healthy diet, get some exercise, schedule your regular medical check-ups and generally…..be kind to yourself.

Finally, remember these important rules for managing your time in retail…

  •  When determining how to spend your precious time, always keep your eyes on what you need to do to achieve YOUR Top Success Factors. In the final analysis, YOU are responsible for YOUR results and making claims that you were busy doing something else – busy contributing to the success of someone else – just won’t work…nor should it. 
  • Head Office personnel often want you to attend to THEIR Top Success Factors so, although you want to be helpful and cooperative, be careful of what you accept and how you prioritize those things.
  • Don’t be caught saying “I’m going to be doing…” and, instead, use your time so wisely that you will be in a position to say “I am doing…”. That’s the difference between taking action and talking about taking action. Far too many people have great intentions to get something done…but never actually do. They talk at length about what they’re going to be doing, instead of doing.
  • The #1 use of your time is to develop successful leaders by a) removing obstacles to their success b) continuously and freely sharing information with them and c) regularly engage them in an open exchange of ideas.

Let us know what you think. We always love to hear from our subscribers and customers.