10 Time Management Tips for Busy Professionals

If you feel like your life moves faster than a Nascar race, you're not alone. We are living in a time where dual income families and single parent homes are the norm, a sharp contrast to the happy sitcom families we grew up watching on TV.

So how do you get everything accomplished when there are only 24 hours in a day? The first step is to reprioritize. Does it really matter if you're house is immaculate? Does your family really need a 7-course meal on the table every night? Instead of spending time preparing an elaborate meal, wouldn't you rather use that time with your family or to catch up on some R&R for yourself?

Regardless of how your priorities are defined, we could all use some extra time in the day. The following are some time management ideas that can help increase your productivity and improve the quality of your life. Try incorporating just a few of these ideas and see how it affects your life. You will be glad you did!

1. Turn your email off. It may be hard to break away from your constant communication with the world, but if you check email twice per day instead, you will be amazed by how much time you save. Specify specific time frames during the day that you will devote to email and stick to your schedule.

One Silicon Valley company recently implemented a No Email rule on Fridays. If you need a question answered, you have to pick up the phone or walk over to the person with the answer. While this may not always be the most productive solution, it drives home the point that we rely too heavily on email for our communication. When you stop letting it rule your life, your productivity will ultimately increase.

2. Create email filters to send junk mail directly to the trash bin. With the latest version of Microsoft Outlook, you can right click on a junk message and add the sender to your Blocked Senders list, preventing any future messages from that sender from landing in your Inbox.

3. Hire a Virtual Assistant to handle administrative tasks. VAs are remote office administrators who can handle tasks including large mailings, contact management and other office duties. They can be hired for a simple project or on an ongoing basis. To find a VA, visit the International Virtual Assistants Association.

4. Get in the habit of using a To Do list every day. At the end of each day, make a list of items to complete the following day. This helps you put closure on the day so you don't leave worried about forgetting the tasks that await you tomorrow.

5. Manage your meetings. Set expectations when beginning a meeting by announcing a cut-off time. You could say something like, "I know you're busy too and I have another meeting at 3:00 so let's plan to wrap this up by 2:45." This not only keeps your schedule on track, but busy attendees will appreciate it as well. Keep an eye on the clock and stick to the time you have allotted.

6. Get your filing system in order. Do you waste time looking for invoices or receipts? Create a file folder for receipts each month and simply drop your papers into each corresponding folder. This can also be useful later on when you have a question about a credit card expense from January. Simply pull out your January folder and voila- you have your information at your fingertips!

7. Use pre-printed lists for supplies, groceries, etc. Make a list of the office supplies that you use regularly and post one on a bulletin board near your desk. Simply check off the supplies you need when you run low so you remember what you need to reorder. This system works well for groceries and household supplies too. Get your family in the habit of checking off items that are running low so you never again forget to pick something up at the grocery store.

8. Use templates for repeat projects. Do you have a daily, weekly or monthly report to write? Do you spend time calculating figures manually that could be done easily in a spreadsheet? Create templates to reuse over and over again and minimize your prep time.

9. Freeze leftovers. If you have a serving or two left of tonight's dinner and you know nobody will want it tomorrow, put it in a freezer safe container and save it for lunch or a quick dinner option in the upcoming weeks.

10. Designate a daily chore to everyone in your family. In previous generations, most kids worked for a living! Break your kids away from the video games for twenty minutes to help with garbage duty, dishes, vacuuming or taking care of the pets. Delegating one chore to everyone daily will lighten your load and keep your home organized and clean. You can even make a list or spreadsheet and rotate the chores or make it fun by offering a reward after everyone finishes.

Don't forget the most important time management tip- make time for yourself. You're no good to anyone if you're sleep deprived and miserable. We all deserve a little downtime, even if that means you have to schedule some time for yourself into your calendar each day. Your business, family and relationships will all benefit when your priorities are in order and you have balance in your life.

***This is an excerpt from "100+ Time Management Tips for Busy Professionals by Stephanie Chandler. For more information, visit: http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com/timemana gement.htm

Stephanie Chandler is the author of "The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!" and the founder of http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of free resources for entrepreneurs. Sign up for the BusinessInfoGuide newsletter to receive hot resources and tips every month.

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