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Stop Wasting Time And Money: 34 Business Time Management Tips Every Business Should Read

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As a business owner or employee, you know that time is your greatest strength and asset. You do not want to waste it. You can invest money in a business and get it back later, but you cannot do that with time. You’ve got to watch your time like a hawk.

We reached out to industry experts, business leaders and employees to get their best business time management tips. Anyway, without any further time wasting, here are 34 best tips and tricks to start making the most of your time. 

#1 Put everything you have to do on one list, and make that list digital

Put everything you have to do on one list, and make that list digital. Many people have mastered 'write it down'. But, the result is an assortment of sticky notes around the computer screen, and ideas scribbled on random napkins.

Paper planner users spend too much time re-writing lists. With a good digital task manager, you never re-write. It's searchable. It syncs with your phone, so you have it everywhere. You even add to it with your voice. My choice is Toodledo (Toodledo.com).

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

15 points
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#2 Batch your work

Batching refers to handling similar tasks as a group. Placing phone calls one after the other helps them go faster. Saving errands and running them all in succession is another. Do you have a question for a co-worker? Put it on your list. This afternoon, when you have half-a-dozen more points to discuss with that person, handle them all in one interaction. Others will start to notice how much less you interrupt them!

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

15 points
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#3 Put repeating tasks on autopilot

Every job has those tasks that need to be done every week, every month, or every year. Any good digital task manager allows you do set a repeating pattern. When a repeater first appears, put it on the list, give it a date, and give it a repeating pattern. Do the task, check it off, and watch it come back the next time it needs to be done. Your planning just got easier, and you don't spend your time reinventing the wheel.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

15 points
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#4 Plan tomorrow today

Look at your digital list and line up the tasks in the order you want them to fall. Give every task a due date and sort the list by date. Do you still have 10 tasks left from today, and you know you won't get a chance to handle them until three days from now? Don't let them sit at the top of the list. Change the due dates to when you will have another crack at them.

One of the reasons I like Toodledo is that it lets me change due dates in mass.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

14 points
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#5 Make the list irresistible

When the tasks on the list are fuzzy, you resist the list. You wind up welcoming any diversion that gives you an excuse not to tackle the work you planned. As you plan the day, word the tasks so they are crystal clear. When you look at the task, you know exactly what to do. You can't wait to tackle it and check it off as done. When your list is doable, staying focused on the list becomes surprisingly easy.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

14 points
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#6 Use a L-shaped desk

A computer keyboard and monitor occupies tons of real estate on a desk. An L-shaped desk provides a return for the computer monitor, keyboard, telephone, possibly the printer, and the inbox. All of it is just a 90-degree swivel (not 180 degrees). The desk in front of you can stay clear except for the task at hand and the memorabilia you love. If money is tight, and inexpensive folding table serves as a great return.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

13 points
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#7 Use a tickler file to keep the desk clear

Empty a hanging file drawer and outfit it with a set of folders labeled 1-31, each representing a day of the month. Label 12 more with the names of the months. When papers come your way that you need at some future point, drop them in the appropriate folders. Everything reappears on just the right day.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

13 points
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#8 Trap all incoming papers in one place

Eliminating distractions gives a large productivity boost. An inbox provides one place to throw everything while you stay focused on the task at hand.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

13 points
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#9 Be a contrarian

Do things at a time when others aren't so that you avoid waiting. Go to lunch before or after the crowd. Use the copier before others get to work. Come early or stay late to avoid the rush-hour traffic.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

12 points
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#10 Be prepared for spare minutes

Identify on your task list some items that take little time. Have the materials at hand to knock them out when you find yourself with time between appointments.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

12 points
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#11 Establish a quiet hour

If you can control interruptions, you can control your day. Close the door. Let email accumulate and handle it in a batch. Let the phone go to voice mail. Focus on something of worth and handle the little stuff later.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

12 points
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#12 Use a text expander

Use a text expander to automate common email responses. People will think you spend a great deal of time crafting your response when you merely hit a few keys.

Contributor: Frank Buck from frankbuck.org

7 points
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#13 Use a parking lot on a whiteboard or flip chart during meetings

When the conversation starts to go off on a tangent, tell folks you're going to put the topic into the parking lot. Jot down a note on the topic and the name of the person who brought it up. Then refocus on your primary purpose. At the end of the meeting, it's up to each person whether or not to attempt a separate conversation or meeting on their topic.

Contributor: Dave Labowitz from davelabowitz.com

7 points
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#14 Timebox meetings

Everyone knows meetings tend to run long. Either schedule another group to take the conference room immediately after you or have everyone in the meeting set an alarm on their phone for the scheduled end time. It's hard to ignore everyone's alarms going off at once or someone kicking you out of the room.

Contributor: Dave Labowitz from davelabowitz.com

5 points
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#15 Turn off alerts in Outlook

My #1 biggest change [that] I made to my time management was to turn off alerts in Outlook so I wasn't constantly being interrupted while doing work. The switching cost when you get a notification is a huge problem that people don't realize and it sucks your productivity up when you're constantly bouncing over to [your] emails to answer questions from people. 

I've also changed the way I handle email to doing it in batches. So I do 1 hour in the morning, 1 hour at lunch, then an hour before I leave work. This lets me be more efficient by knocking out all the emails I get at once.

Contributor: Jim Barron from acceleratedfi.com

2 points
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#16 Keep a small bullet journal

There are tons of project management software out there, but I keep a small bullet journal in which I note what I did or didn't accomplish today, and the time it took. I also note down top 3-5 tasks for the next day along with the estimated time each will take.

Contributor: Syed Irfan Ajmal from ridester.com

2 points
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#17 Schedule “Flex” time

When creating a schedule - whether daily, weekly, or per project - incorporate an hour or more for “overflow” or “flex” time. Schedules rarely proceed as planned, and getting behind on one task leads to a backup on all tasks. Plan for this time so you don’t have to worry about getting behind when the unexpected happens.

Contributor: Stuart Ridge from vitamedica.com

1 point
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#18 Implement a Visual Hierarchy

When working on a large project, creating a visual hierarchy of the tasks needed to accomplish your end-goal can be an efficient way to organize your plan prior to execution. While traditional lists are a great way of understanding what needs to be accomplished, by using a visual format, such as a tree graph, and grouping tasks based on relevance and priority, it will become much easier to determine how much time should be allocated for each assignment.

Contributor: Tracy Julien from guidedchoice.com

1 point
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#19 Avoiding distractions: Multi-switching does NOT work

I keep my willpower and concentration tanks full by avoiding distractions. I do this by keeping my phone on silent most of the times, not hurrying to answer every single email the second it lands in my inbox and avoiding most synchronous communications (Video calls etc).

Contributor: Syed Irfan Ajmal from ridester.com

1 point
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#20 Do not multitask

This was the most difficult for me. I have always been a multi-tasker just so I can get as much done at once but noticed that it actually slowed me down in the long run. I was consistently leaving items incomplete. Once I start a project then that is all I focus on so I can tick it off my list.

Contributor: Janell B Peña, MBA, MAFM from teruyatax.com

1 point
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#21 Gamify your day

Link your daily habits and rewards with your productivity. For instance, this could mean not having your first cup of coffee until your first important task is complete. The not having lunch until your second is complete. You can also link your productivity to rewards like watching a TED talk, spending 10 minutes on social media, going for a walk, calling a friend etc.

Contributor: Fiona Adler from actioned.com

1 point
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#22 Give yourself short deadlines

Parkinson's Law tells us that work expands to fill the time available. Use this to your favor by setting yourself tight deadlines and putting a stop to never-ending work. Force yourself to leave work by booking in an exercise class or appointment with a friend. Then work hard to get everything done before then.

Contributor: Fiona Adler from actioned.com

1 point
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#23 Get external accountability

When you work in a corporate role, accountability is generally built into your role - there are regular meetings where you need to update others on your progress, or others are waiting for your work. However, for entrepreneurs working alone, this is often missing - and it is hugely helpful to create this accountability. This can be done by creating a board or mastermind group, or you can deliberately make promises to customers or public commitments about milestones you're aiming towards. 

Contributor: Fiona Adler from actioned.com

1 point
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#24 Color Code Your Calendar

Color coding your calendar - whether on an app or on paper - according to the type of tasks provides an effective visual representation of how your time is broken down. Use this to ensure that you are spending the appropriate amount of time on each type of task.

Contributor: Stuart Ridge from vitamedica.com

0 points
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#25 Start tracking your time

Recently there's been a lot of research showing that more hours worked doesn't necessarily mean more work done. Accurately tracking your time spent really working can make you face the uncomfortable truth about how many hours you're doing focused, productive work. 

It's also important to track your downtime. How much time are you really spending away from your desk, cell, and email? Working when you're supposed to be relaxing makes you a prime candidate for anxiety, depression, and burnout. 

All of which are far too common amongst entrepreneurs and business executives. Start tracking your time on your laptop with an automated tracker like Timing, and your time on your phone with an app like Moment. You can even keep charts and spreadsheets of how much time you should be spending on something, vs. how much time you're actually spending. Once you've achieved more task productivity and focus you'll be surprised how much time in your day is freed up. Managing your time effectively means being more productive with both your business hours and your personal time.

Contributor: Amelia Easten from timingapp.com

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#26 Focus on what is directly related to what you are working on

No need to consume endless amounts of content related to all things that I think may matter to me. I only focus on learning/reading what is directly related to what I am working on.

Contributor: Syed Irfan Ajmal from ridester.com

0 points
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#27 Use the POMODORO Technique

I use a MacBook app called Tomato One which is based on the famous POMODORO technique. In this manner, I am extremely focused to get done with the most critical tasks of the day in a few fast-paced sprints of 20 minutes each along with small breaks in between.

Contributor: Syed Irfan Ajmal from ridester.com

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#28 Social media is a massive time sucker

I have removed most social media apps from my phone. Plus, I have installed a Chrome extension on my MacBook, and so I don't see Facebook's infinite newsfeed when I log in to Facebook.

Contributor: Syed Irfan Ajmal from ridester.com

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#29 Incorporate Health: Catch up while you are getting some exercise

Instead of meeting up with your local colleagues at a coffee shop, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too. You'll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share. It works with customers too, I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box. A change in venue is always nice and you feel so much better when you are moving and not trapped behind your desk.

Contributor: Paige Arnof-Fenn from mavensandmoguls.com

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#30 Delegate Delegate Delegate

Those items that can be completed by others don't think about it twice and just hand it off. Let your assistant or whomever you delegated the task to handle those items without you micromanaging them to be completed. Yes, you can request an update to make sure the task was done or if they have any questions but trust that it will be completed.

Contributor: Janell B Peña, MBA, MAFM from teruyatax.com

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#31 Do not answer every phone call

In most cases, clients want their task to be completed immediately. You have to allow them to leave a message for you to return their call. Some people can wait, let them.

Contributor: Janell B Peña, MBA, MAFM from teruyatax.com

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#32 Keep the main thing the main thing

Instead of focussing on a mega long list of things you need to do, cut your list down and make a stop doing list. Declutter your to-do list and make sure you are focussing your time on the right tasks and are producing the right results. 

Contributor: Teresa Walsh from cazana.com/uk

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#33 Hold yourself accountable

Portion out time every day to get the work done. If you miss the time one day make it up another time. If you don’t hold yourself accountable than you are in danger of never doing you were supposed to.

Contributor: Nate Masterson from mapleholistics.com

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#34 Expect the unexpected

It is essential that you make your plan realistic. A task may seem like it will only take an hour, but you have to consider the possibility of distractions, emergency phone calls, or having to deal with unexpected issues in the office. 

This can easily result in you falling behind schedule, and having to work late to be able to honour your commitments and keep to your deadlines. To prevent this from happening, you need to expect the unexpected, foresee the unforeseen and anticipate distractions. 

However long you think the task will take you, double it, and allocate this amount of time for it in your plan/diary. This will mean that you can still meet your deadlines even if you find yourself getting side-tracked by other tasks.

Contributor: Grant van der Harst from angloliners.co.uk

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