6 tips for time management

Hey there! I thought I would make today’s topic a topic which I was chatting about with a friend of mine I used to work with. While having lunch we got talking about how we could do a little better with our time management when working, so today’s post is going to be about your time management in the restaurant.

6 tips for time management

Firstly restaurant work isn’t your every day office job, where your stationary at your desk for 80% of your day and everything is within arms reach or some clicks away, you are working in an industry where you get a work out and are always on the move (This is my excuse for not going to the gym).

Why is time management important?

I worked in a place in Australia where the sections were 10 to 14 tables per server (EPIC!) and it was this place where I learned how time management was my friend.

(unfortunately with these ridiculous number of tables it was hard to give quality service to each table which I wasn’t comfortable with when it got busy)

Here are 6 tips for time management in the restaurant:

  1. Writing orders the smart way
  2. Full hands
  3. Sense of urgency
  4. Think before you move
  5. Prioritize
  6. Carry the bill

So let me give you the breakdown for each of these time management tips.

Writing orders the smart way

In an earlier post titled Steps of service – The basics I mention that I would cover how to write orders and here it is.  I used to try to impress my tables and not write things down and I would try to remember everything. That stopped the day I forgot someones order and went back to ask what they asked for and straight up I felt like an idiot. Write orders in shorthand to make things move quicker. For example:

Guest 1

Vodka & soda – Caesar salad – Steak, medium rare with fries and vegetables.

Guest 2

Orange juice – House salad (dressing on the side) – Chicken parmigiana

Guest 3

Glass house white wine – no appetizer – Spaghetti carbonara (chili flakes on the side)

Rather than writing it out like it is above try something like this:


Vod/Soda – Caesar – Steak M/R fries+veg


OJ – Hse sal (DOS) – Parm


Gls white – X – Carb, chili O/S

Now if you serve an average of 10+ tables per shift then the time saved adds up big time. The time you save allows you to focus on more important things than writing your orders out in full. Over time you will develop your own method of writing your orders in shorthand.

Full hands

This is another topic that I mentioned in a post titled Restaurant terminology. This is great for time management, it simply means when you’re entering or leaving the dining area, kitchen or service bar you should always have your hands full. A comment from a reader on the Restaurant terminology post made a good point about prioritizing which is covered below.

Sense of urgency

There will be times where you’re busy and you will need to pick up the pace. Get those legs moving but without looking rushed or running frantically, because it’s not a good image to the guests. I’m lucky enough to have long legs (my girlfriend calls them my dancer legs:)) which gives me a good stride.

Just be sure you know the difference between rushing around like a maniac and moving with speed and efficiency to get the job done.

Think before you move

If you have a plan about what your next few moves will be then you won’t waste any of your time just moving without any direction. Make a mental map of where you need to go and what you need to do which will allow you to do those tasks in the least amount of time.


The guest needs/wants come first. Your job as a server is to accommodate and make your guests feel as if they are in your home. So in that case they are your priority no matter what. Forget the cutlery that needs to be polished, forget the roll-ups that need to be done, forget resetting your tables, because if you have a guest request then that is your priority.

I have seen servers who have had a guest ask them for something from the kitchen and they have gone to another table of theirs and start to clean and clear it before tending to their request. Just remember that your guests come first before any of your side duties or other tasks you may have (unless you’re putting a fire out at another table).

Carry the bill

You have to judge this one on your own. When it comes towards the end of your tables dining experience they will eventually ask you for their check so they can settle up, get out, and allow you so reset and serve more tables. Now if I can sense that a table may not be interested in having dessert (they look like they couldn’t fit another thing in and you may need to take them out of the restaurant in a wheelbarrow) then I like to print their check and carry it on me, just in case they ask me for it when I’m at their table next.

If that table ends up ordering dessert or coffee and tea then after I have rung them into the computer I will immediately print out their bill and once again carry it on me.

This will save me time if I’m at the table and they ask for the check, I won’t need to go back to the computer, print out their bill, and return back to the table. This way when they ask for it I can drop it, clear some things from their table while they review the bill and when I return more than likely payment is ready to be processed.

Incorporate these tips into your daily routine while working and you will find that you will work more efficiently and will increase your money because your working smarter and not harder.

Let me know if any of these tips have worked for you.


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