Time management is a skill that can be fine-tuned over time.

Editor’s note: This is the eighth article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. And the seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here.

In 2018, I moved from a general manager position overseeing Acme Feed & Seed to the director of operations atop Acme Feed & Seed, The Southern Steak & Oyster, Fin & Pearl, and Woolworth. Both Acme Feed & Seed and The Southern Steak & Oyster were in the top 100 sales grossing restaurants in the country. It was quite a task. These two restaurants were such high-volume operations it really required a lot of supervision. Likewise, Fin & Pearl and Woolworth were brand-new restaurants and also needed a lot of supervision. 

The challenge I faced was how do I go from overseeing one restaurant to now guiding four that all required a lot of leadership and management. It had always been easy to make sure Acme Feed & Seed was successful even though it was a four-story restaurant that did over $18 million annually. It was easy because I was in the building 50 hours a week making sure it succeeded. But how do I run four? I can’t work 200 hours a week.

The solution was two-fold. I became an expert at managing my time and I also focused on building my people and teams.


I focused on being extremely organized with my time and attention. Here is what I did:

1. Prioritized my focus on five areas

2. People (Team, Guest, Connectors, Mavens)

  • Product (Food, Beverage, Ambiance)
  • Processes (Operating, HR, Financial)
  • Purchases (Our purchases and the guests-Higher guest counts, higher check averages)
  • Profits

3. Prioritized my Google Calendar

  • First Priority (Important & Urgent)—I did first
  • Second Priority (Important but not Urgent)—I did second
  • Third Priority (Urgent but not Important)—I delegated

4. Set Routines

  • Read closing managers’ emails from each restaurant each morning
  • Looked at schedules to see what managers were working and staffing levels
  • Looked at OpenTable reservations
  • Planned my day
  • Facility walk throughs at each restaurant visited
  • Said hello to all staff working at each restaurant visited
  • Met with management
  • Worked on priorities
  • Checked e-mails
  • Attended lineups
  • Checked e-mails
  • Spent time on the floor and in kitchen during the shift
  • Checked e-mails
  • Said goodnight to staff


1. Prioritized my time on developing people

  • By taking the time to develop people I didn’t have to do all of the work
  • Allowed me more time to focus on big picture, big impact priorities
  • Didn’t have to continually follow up on the same things over and over again
  • Empowered my people by showing them they matter

2. Delegated projects and responsibilities to key players 

  • Took pressure off me to do everything
  • Continued the development of my people through measurable projects and allowing them to fail and learn from their mistakes
  • Gave my people a sense of ownership and accountability

When I prioritized managing my time and developing my people and teams it really set me up for success in running four restaurants without burning out because I maximized my time and efficiency while developing my people which enabled me to delegate many duties and empowered my people to succeed and grow. 

If you want to scale, you have to prioritize your time and your people.

Expert Takes, Feature, Labor & Employees, Leader Insights