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Ten tips: Time is Money, so manage it wisely

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 22, 2002

Whether you operate a small business out of your home or work for a large corporation, one of the biggest challenges you likely face is how to accomplish everything you need to accomplish in a given day or week. Students, homemakers and part-time workers also face serious time pressures. The following tips can help you make the most of the limited time you have.

* * *

1. MAKE A TO-DO LIST. Jot down the tasks you need to do, prioritizing them based on what must be done that day and what can wait. If you see that you consistently cannot wipe all the items off your list in a single day, make a point of planning your time in a more realistic way.

2. TRY NOT TO JUMP FROM ONE TASK TO ANOTHER. Group chores together in order to avoid that harried feeling of doing 10 things at once. For instance, devote a 30- or 60-minute block of time to returning phone and e-mail messages.

3. DON'T STAY LATE. You may feel that you need to work late or bring work home with you in order to get everything done. That may produce results for a while, but beware: You're on the road to becoming overworked and unproductive. Studies show that performance declines by 25 percent after a 60-hour work week.

4. GET ENOUGH SLEEP. If you're frequently exhausted and mentally unprepared to be at work, you won't be able to function at your peak efficiency and effectiveness.

5. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN, plan your activities around their schedules in order to accomplish as much as possible throughout the day.

6. LET TECHNOLOGY HELP YOU. In addition to your trusty day planner, your calendar in your e-mail program and a host of Web-based programs can send you helpful electronic reminders and allow you to schedule, track and manage your appointments.

7. PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS. When do you do your best work? In the mornings? In one big rush near the end of the workday? Set aside that time for your most creative jobs, then schedule more brain-dead tasks for other parts of the day.

8. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS. Concentrate on results, not on being busy. Many people spend their days in a frenzy of activity without properly focusing their efforts. Zero in on completing important projects and improving the quality of your work.

9. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF TIME GAPS. Carry work with you throughout the day so you can accomplish quick tasks when you find yourself with 10 or 15 minutes of free time. Note: This is different from bringing work home with you.

10. CHOOSE SANITY. Recognize that the most successful people in both Eastern and Western societies maintain a good balance between their work and nonwork lives.

-- Compiled by Laura T. Coffey. Sources: Microsoft bCentral (www.bcentral.com); "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Managing Your Time" by Jeff Davidson; Mind Tools (www.mindtools.com)

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