Some Important Time Management Tips to Help Streamline Your Business and Your Life

by Donna Williams - Date: 2008-10-20 - Word Count: 1020 Share This!

Small businesses today are under tremendous pressure to do more with less. Sometimes a <i>lot</i> less.

One of the ways we can stretch our business buck is to work smarter. Because no matter how efficiently we think we're already working, chances are that by employing some of these practical time management tips below, you can help your company run smoother and more cost-effectively.

<b>Stop Obsessing.</b>You know you do it. We <i>all</i> do it from time to time. I'm talking about wasting time by checking your email every few minutes. As a society, we've become so accustomed to communicating via email we are afraid we're going to miss something important if we look away for even a few minutes. But seriously...there are very few things that can't wait. Most time management experts suggest setting aside specific times in your day to check your email, and then ignore it the rest of the time. Consider checking your email three times each day: first thing in the morning, around noon, and then an hour or so before you leave for the day. You may first want to send an email to your clients, colleagues, employees and associates to let them know that in an effort to increase your productivity and to serve them better, you will soon begin checking your email (fill in the times). Let them know that if it is critical they get in touch with you before those times, to call. Unless it's a real emergency, most people will choose to wait for your scheduled email check.

<b>Stay Focused.</b>Many of us pride ourselves on our ability to multi-task, but most experts agree that isn't always the most productive way to work. If we go off in too many directions, we can get overwhelmed and risk underachieving. I learned a long time ago that unless I stay focused on the task at hand, I get sidetracked, lose my train of thought, and waste valuable time trying to get myself back up to speed. However, if I stay focused on what I'm doing and resist all those other attention=grabbers, I can get my work done in literally half the time. So give each task your entire attention - make a deliberate decision to only spend time doing that task. Shut out all other distractions...both literally and figuratively. Close your office door, or go off-site if you have to. Take a deep breath, relax, and clear your mind of all the other things.

<b>Filter Your Phone Calls.</b>Next to email, I find phone calls the most distracting time wasters. When I was in the corporate world, I had a receptionist and an assistant to filter my calls, but now that I work from my home office and answer the phone myself, I can get inundated and distracted if I allow the phone to rule my world. Obviously, there are times when we must take calls...especially if your livelihood depends on it. But if it doesn't, why not try designating specific times when you simply don't answer the phone unless it's an emergency. Most of my clients, friends, and colleagues know I work this way, and will call at the appropriate times or send me an email. It's important, however, to respond when you say you will, and to respond fully. Before you implement this program, b sure to send an email to let your contacts know about it, and to enlist their help.

<b>Learn to Say "No."</b>One of the easiest ways to get more time in your day and to work more efficiently is to not take on more than you can handle. There are only 24 hours in a day, you know, and eight of those need to be spent sleeping (see the next point!). You can't spend the rest of the time working, no matter what you think. To work at peak efficiency you need balance in your life, and you can't have balance if you are working all the time. Don't commit to things that are going to steal down time away from you. This means you may have to turn down clients (ouch!) or projects and that can hurt. But think about it as learning to live within your time budget.

<b>Get Some Sleep!</b>Do you really think that you can perform at peak efficiency and make good decisions when you don't get enough sleep at night? According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 40 percent of us don't get enough sleep, and one in 10 Americans are chronically sleep-deprived. Although we all need different amounts of sleep, it's estimated that amount is between six to nine hours each night. If you go for a long period of time getting less than six hours of sleep, you could suffer symptoms like lack of concentration and memory, behavioral problems, tiredness and irritability. And no one operates well under those circumstances.

<b>Stick to a Routine</b>As much as possible, try to establish and stick to a regular schedule and routine. If you consistently know what you're supposed to do, when, where and for how long, you will find that you can be a much more productive person.

<b>Get Organized</b>You may <i>think</i> you work better surrounded by chaos and clutter, but if you're like most people, you will work better and more efficiently if you have organized systems that make it easy to find what you're looking for. Keep your computer desktop neat and orderly. Ditto for your office filing cabinets and desk. And as a bonus...if you surrounds are clutter-free, you'll most likely find yourself able to think on a more focused basis.

<b>Don't Be a Thumb Twiddler</b>Over the years, I've probably read dozens of business books and hundred of business publications while waiting...for clients, for the doctor, for my daughter to get out of school. Always keep a book, magazine report, etc., with you for those moments when you find yourself waiting. It's a great way to fill in what could otherwise be considered wasted time.

Follow these time management tips and you'll soon find that your days become less hectic, and you business more profitable

(c) Copyright 2008, All rights reserved.

Related Tags: time management tips, importance of time management, business time management, why is time management important

Donna Williams is the founder and creator of - a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential. She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer. Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses. To learn more about Donna and read more of her articles, visit her website at

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