For those who have been following my saga on Facebook, you know I recently threw my back out.

I did the same thing back in 2012 when I was burning both ends of the candle, so to speak. And voila, my body forced me to lay down and rest by taking out the "L5-S1″. By the way, it's amazing when you talk to other people with back pain how we can all speak in code on where our discs are located.

The moral of the story for me was how to manage my time better. In fact, if you talk to anyone who's running a company, managing a team, working on several projects or balancing both work and family, time management is one of the top 3 topics he or she is focused on.

As I started to research more and talk to other busy people, I realized the best time management tool is not the latest new fancy app or a bizarre schedule system. It's actually using your mouth to say "no."

Part of my issue was I was always saying yes. I didn't want to hurt people's feelings. I was afraid I was missing out on some big opportunity. Or I wanted to just feel like I was productive and doing things by meeting as many people as possible.

So how do you do this without people hating you? Kevin Kruse, a New York Times bestselling author and leadership coach, wrote a recent blog on this that perfectly sums up how do to it in 7 different ways. All you need to do is pick one.

1. Tell people you're on a deadline and can't take new meetings. As Kevin notes, "deadline" is a magical word to people that means "don't bother me."

2. Tell people you can only take calls with paying clients because your schedule is so packed. If people are really serious about talking to you, they'll pay you.

3. Tell people your next availability is five months away. If they really value your time, they will take that slot. If they just wanted to "chat," then they'll go away.

4. Tell people you can take a call at 2 am in the morning. Kevin says this works on people who simply won't go away, but are somehow connected to you by a friend or associate so you can't completely tell them no outright. If for some reason, they are willing to stay up late until 2 am to talk with you, then you know they are serious and can easily switch the call time later.

5. Refer this person to someone else who can help them. Maybe it's someone else on your team who can better answer the questions. Delegating away requests is a great time management tool-though it leaves your colleagues with requests they have to deal with!

6. Ask if they can communicate by email because your days are jammed with meetings. Pretty straightforward.

7. Narrow down the meeting time to 15 minutes and ask for an agenda beforehand. Love this one too. People who know they have a short amount of time get to the point quicker.

Use these tips and let me know if your time frees up-before your body makes you do it.

Published on: Jun 8, 2016
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