Top Twelve Tips to Saving Time in 2009

The work smarter not harder philosophy brought to life...

Happy New Year to all! 2009 is the start of our 13th year in business. To help us succeed for another year, during January we take the time to pause, reflect and refocus. After all, we know it is easy to keep busy. Yet one can be perpetually busy without accomplishing anything. One must work well. As we prepare the office for the new year, here are some tips to help you work smarter, not harder in 2009.


1. Beat the Clock ~ Working backwards, estimate the amount of time it takes you from waking to walking out the door in the morning. Set your alarm appropriately and rise when it rings. Snooze does not allow you the restful REM sleep you require and only lulls you into a cranky morning routine.

2. Name Your Neutral ~ Whether it is navy, black, or brown, build your work wardrobe around one neutral color. This will allow you to have a stable set of accessories that always match and save you the time of switching things back and forth.

3. Dress the Part ~ Before going to bed, consider your obligations for tomorrow. Pull your outfit in advance, check for rips, stains, and loose buttons. Set out the foundation garments and accessories so once you are showered, your attire for the day is waiting for you.


4. Come Clean ~ Have you recently taken a good hard look at your workspace. Try this; take everything off your desk. How clean is it? How about those drawers? The keyboard tray? What about the keyboard itself? Give yourself the belated holiday gift of a fresh start. With some Windex, paper towels and a few Clorox wipes you too can have a clean office.

5. Lose the Weight ~ Forget the diet for now and focus instead on the extraneous materials that are weighing your office down. As you clean, have within arm's reach a recycle bin (with shredder as needed) and a large garbage can. Give yourself permission to chuck anything you do not need or use. File those piles, and send to off site storage anything that must be retained for legal purposes. You may have saved that magazine/business card/training binder, but if you have not acted upon them in over a year chances are they are just taking up space.

6. Find Your Flow ~ With a clean desk and mountains of unnecessary items leaving your workspace, consider your station. Is your phone positioned so that it is easy for you to answer and take notes? Is your computer forcing you to sit with your back to the door? Are movements from your office mate distracting? This is your chance to rearrange your space to better suit you. You may find that removing unneeded furniture allows you the space you do require.


7. Lots of Lists ~ Whether they are electronic, typed or handwritten, you will need to know what you need to do. Life without lists is like getting in the car and driving without knowing where you are going. Once you have a list of your projects and obligations, you must set priorities. This allows you to know where to spend your time. While your boss may insist it is so, you can not focus your attention on more that one thing at once. Know what deserves your time first.

8. Do, Delay, Delegate or Delete ~ As part of setting priorities, consider what is worthy of your time. Are there others to whom you can offload whole projects or even certain tasks? Each item on your list will need to be done, delayed, delegated or deleted.

9. Manage Your Minutes ~ For any items worth doing; you will need to schedule time into your calendar to accomplish those tasks. Being realistic, block off the time on your calendar to actually get the work done. It is amazing how quickly your time fills. Which brings us to...

10. Meeting Avoidance ~ It is common for employees to spend so much time in meetings there is no time to actually do the work. Give yourself a meeting audit. On an average week, how much time are you in meetings? Do you need to be there? Is there information being shared you could obtain through other means? Is your approval required to move the project forward? Would it be possible to attend only those parts relevant to you? Speak with colleagues and management to determine which meetings you truly must attend and which can slip from your schedule.

11. Insist on Having a PAL ~ For meetings worthy of your time, insist on having a Purpose, Agenda and Limit sent in advance. If you do not know why the meeting is taking place, what is to be discussed or how long you will need to stay, you should consider if you want to attend at all. Meetings without focus drag on forever with no outcomes.

12. Be the Master of Your Domain ~ Use technology to your advantage. Look to see who is calling before answering your phone. Set aside specific times to check your email instead of constantly scanning. Know when to turn on and off your cell phone. Record outgoing messages with preset times you plan to return calls. Use your email out of office option to signal when you do check emails or when you will be at your desk.

Here's to working well in the New Year!