Ahold CIO: Time management tips from the top

It's been said that time management is mostly about choosing what not to do. If you accept the fact you can't do it all, and learn to turn things down without guilt, you can free yourself to focus on the things you consider important.

John Dettenwanger has mastered these ideas. As senior vice president and CIO of Ahold USA, he is responsible for all of the information technology supporting seven hundred fifty grocery stores and more than a hundred thousand people. He points out, "In the retail business I'm in, and especially given the size of Ahold in the United States, the speed of change is mind boggling. If you can't figure out what's important and what's not, you'll quickly drown."

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He goes on to say, "There's a stream of stuff coming at you. I don't believe you can manage it. The question is more one of how you can navigate through the flow - not how you alter it."

Dettenwanger explains a simple technique he uses: "Literally every morning, or at times when I feel I'm being washed away by the current, I make a list of the top three of four things I really need to stay focused on. Then I keep that list in front of me."