Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy extra hours each day on Amazon, eBay or Overstock.com? Not many people would turn down the opportunity to buy more time and have the ability to accomplish more each day.
Unfortunately I can’t give you more hours in the day, but I can give you some tips to help you save time.
1. Don’t rely on your memory
One of the best ways to increase your stress level is to fill your mind with tasks and project deadlines. Why not fill a to-do list with the same information? Whether you need to take care of a routine task or a small detail on a large project, include the task on your list. When you rely on your memory, you run the risk of letting smaller tasks fall through the cracks.
2. Keep the number of tasks on your list realistic
There are only so many tasks you can handle each day or week. Keep in mind that the longer the list, the more frustrated you’ll get. Ultimately you’ll be less motivated to work on any of the tasks on your list.
3. Don’t be afraid to delegate
Realize that you can’t do everything, and instead delegate as many tasks as possible. Consider hiring an intern, a virtual assistant or a part-time employee to handle routine tasks, so that you can take care of tasks that require your expertise.
4. Know the difference between urgent and important
Important means that you need to take care of something, while urgent means that you have to take care of something immediately. Knowing the difference between the two will make setting priorities easier.
5. Throughout the day, evaluate your priorities
Face it…you can’t do everything. As you get a new task, add it to your list and figure out its priority.
6. Protect your time
Do you know that if you waste one hour each day, at the end of the year (subtracting two weeks for vacation), you’ll have wasted over 31, eight-hour days. Depressing, isn’t it? Take control over your time by saying no to tasks and projects that are simply time-wasters and won’t help you grow your business.
7. Follow the rule “do it or delete it”
Before you automatically transfer a task to your next day’s list, figure out why you haven’t started the task or whether you still need to work on it. If you continue to move the same tasks forward, decide whether or not the tasks still have a high priority. You’ll probably be able to dump low priority tasks altogether.
8. Make projects manageable
List the projects you need to handle on a project list and then break them down into individual tasks. Then transfer a few tasks from your project list to your to-do list on the day you need to handle them.
9. Limit the number of times you check e-mail every day
If you kept track of how much time you wasted on e-mail, you’d be surprised. I tested my own e-mail habits for one week and couldn’t believe how often I checked for messages.
10. Develop false deadlines
This is where it’s OK to lie to yourself. If you have a deadline at the end of the month, record the deadline four days earlier. Not everyone is an adrenaline junkie who enjoys waiting until the last minute to finish a project. Save the adrenaline high for amusement parks and driving with your teenager. (Trust me on this.)
One extra tip: make time for yourself in 2012. You deserve it.