Carol Roth Blog
This blog features Carol Roth's tough love on business and entrepreneurship, as well as insights from Carol's community of contributors.
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Tips to Maximize Work Time

 

It’s the middle of summer and you’d really love to have some extra time to enjoy it, but nobody told that to your ever-growing workload. So, how can you maximize your time at work, improving your productivity and efficacy, so that you can get out there and enjoy some summer fun? I have asked the CarolRoth.com contributor network of business owners, experts, advisors and entrepreneurs to provide their best advice for maximizing their time during the work day. Their answers are presented below in no particular order.

You may notice some similar ideas, but I kept them separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.

1. Hustle Hard = Social Rewards

I am constantly between website development, graphic designs, email & social sites while also managing my paper task list and work @ home duties. Little things excite me and certainly take me off of my course throughout the day. What I do is give myself 30 minutes of solid design time and if I finish my task, I get a reward from myself. My reward will be 5-10 minutes of social media time or a few minutes to doodle/draw or chat, then get back to work. This method keeps me on track + motivated!
Thanks to: Julie Holloway of JMH Cre8ive Solutions.

2. Worms are Not Just for Birds

The old adage of the early bird catches the worm is true especially when it comes to maximizing work time for solo entrepreneurs to SMB owners. Arising early allows me to take care of administrative tasks, marketing and planning my week, as well as day. Within 2 to 3 hours, all is done and I can now focus on more sales generating activity such as making phone calls, scheduling appointments and attending meetings.
Thanks to: Leanne Hoagland-Smith of ADVANCED SYSTEMS.

3. Take a Mental Vacation

It seems counterintuitive, but taking a mental "vacation" helps boost my productivity. Sometimes, focusing too hard on a project results in narrow thinking. A short break often clears the mind and allows new or better ideas to enter. I take this break with a short mental "vacation" -- thinking about an amazing landscape I've been to, a meaningful conversation with a friend, or a place I'd like to go. What you think about on your mental vacation could be anything -- as long as it isn't about work!
Thanks to: William Dockery of Aegis Power Systems.

4. A Race for Results

The demand for a leader's time increases with their level of influence. It is easy to forget that at the end of the day, what matters most are the results. I like to challenge myself to complete at least 10 goal oriented tasks each day. Upon completion, I put them in my productivity log to hold myself accountable and as a motivation on the days when I am not feeling productive. It provides a level of expectation to continue creating personal momentum, as I put successful thoughts in motion.
Thanks to: Kristie Kennedy of KKEE, LLC.

5. Know Your Circadian Rhythms

I know my most productive times are early in the morning and that 4 pm is my worst time of day. That's when I want a nap and chocolate. So, I do the projects that require the most concentration in the morning and use the 4 pm slot for email checking. Knowing your Circadian Rhythms (simply put your body clock) enables you to match your projects/processes so that you/me/I am most productive and efficient.
Thanks to: Rosanne Dausilio PhD of Human Technologies Global Inc.

6. Automate What You Can

For example, in our line of work, we see a lot of small businesses waste time tracking down customers or clients for late payments during the day to day. We always recommend establishing regular processes for invoicing and automate payments when you can. You'll spend days vs. months trying to receive payments. You've reduced the time spent following up with clients for late payments. This will always give you a better picture of where your cash flow is at any given time.
Thanks to: Kristen Gramigna of BluePay.

7. It's as Easy as A-B-C

To make each day most productive, spend 70% of your time on the most important work you have-your A work. Spend 20% of your time on your B work-the stuff that contributes to growth, relationships, and efficiency. Finally, spend 10% of your time on preventing 'little tasks' from becoming big time-takers/time-wasters-your C work. If you follow this formula, you'll find that you start working more strategically, make more money, and start hearing more compliments than complaints from your clients.
Thanks to: Mike Wittenstein of Storyminers.

8. Put it on Your Calendar

There is a psychological impact when you write something on your calendar. Things on your calendar are commitments (or should be). If you put the most important things for your day on your calendar, you are more likely to do them and not let other less important and distracting things take your time. Even put planning and thinking time on your calendar. Then, use reminders - phone alarms, outlook reminders, etc. - to hold yourself accountable.
Thanks to: Janet Christy of Leverage & Development, LLC.

9. Set Time Limits for Every Task

The little things like organizing your desk or entering emails into the database eats your time the most. Setting a time limit for every task no matter how little can make you incredibly efficient in maximizing time at work and clearing your workload. With time assigned to every task, you can now bite into your hamburger, hmm... and enjoy every bit of it.
Thanks to: Hannah Edia of HannahEdia.com.

10. Get Really Clear

Before I start anything for the day, I make sure to get really crystal clear. Clear on what I want to do and why I want to do it. That clarity drives my ability to get a tremendous amount done in my day. One of the keys to this technique is understanding why each activity should be done that day. When I have a logical and emotional tie to my tasks and strategies, everything gets done at a faster pace.
Thanks to: Stephanie Calahan of Calahan Solutions, Inc.

11. Don't Do $10 Per Hour Work

Too many entrepreneurs and small business owners mistakenly feel the need to do everything in their business. Don't. Find someone to do the $10 per hour work and let them do that while you focus on the activities that can bring in $100 or $300 an hour. When you have better systems like this in place, you start to realize that you can spend less time at work altogether, thus maximizing your free time- your time wealth.
Thanks to: Jim Josselyn.

12. Make the Most of 15 Minutes

Move fast! Look to blow through tasks as quickly as possible. Don't get it perfect; get it done! Too many people get hung up on the process of how to get something done that they waste precious time making their idea known and into the marketplace. See how much you can do with 15 minutes. You'll be surprised at how much you can accomplish, which will only inspire you to do more.
Thanks to: Grant Cardone of Cardone Enterprises.

13. The Multi-tasking Myth

Research confirms that people who multitask do a lot of things POORLY. In my life as professor and entrepreneur, I have discovered that making lists, prioritizing, and doing each task from start to finish allows you to be more and MOST productive. Doing things fast that have to be reworked is not efficient, nor particularly smart.
Thanks to: Gerry Patnode of Graham School of Business/York Coll.

14. Hour of Power

Start the morning with an hour of power and then, the rest of the day is open for anything else.
Thanks to: Chris Speicher of The Speicher Group.

15. Short, Focused Bursts

I'll typically work between 30 and 90 minutes on a project. At the end of that time, I either switch to another project or do some non-thinking activity for a while (harvesting the garden, straightening the office, etc.). After a short break, I'm recharged and ready to rock again on client projects or my own business development.
Thanks to: Shel Horowitz of Business For a Better World.

16. Dance, Dance, Dance! + Pushups

Every hour or so, I get up and move my body for about 5 minutes. Usually, that's in the form of dancing to something on the radio but it's often 20 pushups or a 1-minute wall sit or 50 situps. Just getting the blood flowing again helps me refocus and get a lot more done in the upcoming hour.
Thanks to: Jessica Oman of Renegade Planner.

17. Two Screens Better Than One

I often keep a laptop open on my side desk while I work on my desktop screen. This is handy in certain situations; here are 4:

1. If you need to keep an eye on the progress of one project while working on other projects.

2. If you need to be logged in to 2 accounts on 1 site or logged into 2 different Skype accounts.

3. If you are highly active on several sites simultaneously.

4. If one process on your main screen slows everything down, you can do other things on the other screen.
Thanks to: David Leonhardt of THGM Writers.

18. Early Bird Catches the Worm

Being the first to arrive at the office allows you to prepare for the day in a quiet environment without distraction. A well designed day will increase your productivity and efficiency.

Typically, organized individuals do a much better job at prioritizing important tasks over urgent tasks. It's always important to work on the things that produce the best results.
Thanks to: Bob Shirilla of Simply Custom Bags.

19. Quick Time Saving Tip

Add 20% more time than you think you need to complete a project. By doing so, you are leaving space for unintended interruptions, "black swan events", Murphy's Law, etc. If you do this, you will experience an unusual shift. You will get more done, with greater efficiency and fewer mistakes at a faster rate. You will also have spare time and reduce deadline pressures.
Thanks to: Lewis Harrison of Lewis Harrison Copywriting.

20. Time Check!

I love to do lists, but my number one way to be efficient is to attach how many minutes each task should take to my list. Not only because it helps me stay on track, but also being the competitive person I am, the time works as a "challenge"! Can I complete this task in less time than allotted and therefore earn some "free time" at the end of the day? Motivation = at the bottom of my to do list I have a list of things "I'd like to do today" which I will enjoy with my "extra minutes" saved!
Thanks to: Carolina Jantac of Kid Kritics.

21. This Will Rock Your World

My super amazing tool for maximizing work productivity is an egg timer. My unbeatable productivity system is setting that baby for 30 minutes and focusing on ONLY one single project for 30 minutes and not allowing anything to distract me during that 30 minutes. No checking email. No checking Yahoo news. No answering the phone if it rings, even it is President Obama. If it’s important, he’ll leave a message. I do this several times a day and get so much work done it should be illegal.
Thanks to: Peter Geisheker of The Geisheker Group Marketing Firm.

22. Time to Work On, Not At Work

3 optimal work conditions:
1. Manage environment! Do you work better at home or in the office? In quiet or with background music? Are you more creative on the computer or writing? You need to take your primary learning style (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) into account.
2. Establish boundaries! Use a timer to work for a set period of time without distractions. Avoid multitasking; 1 task at a time.
3.Tackle it! Do difficult things first. It takes more time to procrastinate. Reward yourself.
Thanks to: Denise Levine of Outside In Organizer and Makeovers.

23. Take Breaks

Think about what you're working on and then, take some time to reflect on the options. Generally, it's not the first thing that pops into your mind. Take a break and reflect; it's not only good for your eyes and body, but good for the thought process. Many times, you will be surprised by giving yourself an extra few minutes how smart you really are!
Thanks to: Jerry Pollio of Franchise Futures.

24. Stay Hydrated and Keep Moving

People tend to go to coffee when they need a boost during the day, but staying hydrated is the absolute best way to keep your energy up during the day. Also, getting up and moving around about every 30 minutes is great for both productivity and your long term health. Thus, I keep a small glass of water near my desk (instead of a jug) and get up every 30 minutes or so to refill it. This keeps me very alert and productive, particularly during that typical afternoon slump period.
Thanks to: Kenny Kline of Slumber Sage.

25. It's All About the Pace

As a busy Freelancer who works from home with three small children racing around the place, my top tip for maximizing your work time would be to pace yourself. I do this by using the Pomodoro Technique where I work in 25 bursts. This allows me to stop, refresh, walk about and collect my thoughts before tackling the next chunk of work.
Thanks to: Stacey Corrin of Caleb Storkey Digital Agency.

26. You Must Be Blocked!

Many entrepreneurs fail to prioritize their time. So, even when time is set aside for tasks, the schedule is interrupted by unexpected things.

One success tip that my best clients follow is block time to work on your business. It's important for growth.

Set a timer for 45 minutes of focused, undisturbed time. Turn off your cell, email and text notifications. After the timer goes off, take a small break. An advanced move is to consistently set aside time for your BIG picture strategy.
Thanks to: Loren Fogelman of Business Success Solution.

27. Eat a Frog a Day

There are a number of things that I do to boost my productivity, but one of the most effective has to be this:

Every day, before I start work, I read something that is positive and inspires me.

Sometimes, I watch a video or listen to a podcast.

The important thing is that I get a huge dose of inspiration and positive energy to kick start my day.

This helps to motivate me and get me into the right mindset.

A mindset that breeds success.
Thanks to: Adam Connell of WP Superstars.

28. One Ringy-dingy

Every AM, using the alarm on my iPad, I set reminder chimes to go off throughout that day. The chimes keep me on track, so I make all my phone meetings on time and do the tasks I wrote down that I intended to do for that day.
Thanks to: Randy Peyser of Author One Stop, Inc.

29. Timed Rewards

I maximize my work time by managing my time with rewards. If I have worked from 7- 8:30, I can get coffee. At 10:30, I can exercise for 20 minutes. Little rewards keep me on track through-out the day.
Thanks to: Haralee Weintraub of Haralee.Com Sleepwear.

30. Short Bursts Add Up

I use an online timer to increase my productivity. I will set it for anywhere between 15 and 30 minutes. An alarm sounds once the time has counted down. Short bursts of productivity add up and allow me to focus on what I need to do.
Thanks to: Emily Kristofferson of Emily Kristofferson.

31. Get On Up!

To increase your productivity, GET ON UP! Standing during the day will increase your energy and metabolism, tone muscles and burn calories. Yes, I said tone muscles and burn calories. No, it will NOT replace exercising, but every bit helps. Standing will also increase blood flow, which will unleash creativity and unclog your brain. When you stand up during your work day, it helps change your view and reposition your outlook - literally! So GET ON UP!
Thanks to: Stephanie C. Williams of Crowned One Worldwide Inc.

32. Picture This

To make the most of my time, I make sure I always know my highest priority. I have a photo frame on my desk with "if I can only do one thing today it will be to:" framed. I write the top priority for the day in dry erase marker on the glass each evening before bed for the next day's priority.
Thanks to: Suzanna Kaye of A Space That Works Organizing.

33. POWER the Way Through Your Day

Prioritize your work each morning to keep yourself focused.
Organize your thoughts and your tools to maintain momentum.
Work towards goals that you understand and believe in.
Evaluate continuously and adapt or change when necessary.
Reflect on what worked and learn from what didn’t.
Thanks to: Jeanne Miller Rodriguez.

34. E-mail Templates - Time Found!

If you frequently send the same basic e-mail over and over again, stop it! There's no need to recreate the wheel.

Using e-mails you've already sent for inspiration, create e-mail templates for everything from your Welcome letter to Thank You's to Confirming our next appointment and on.

Once you type the basics of your e-mail, save a draft and each time you use that template, copy and save a new draft for next time. This is a great way to save time when you are e-mailing from your phone.
Thanks to: Jennifer Martin of Zest Business Consulting.

35. It's All About Your Energy

Manage your energy to be more productive.

Plan your day according to your energy levels. Do your most important tasks when you have most energy and take plenty of relaxation and play time when you need it.

The result – you’ll have more downtime and take better care of yourself than ever before and you’ll be more productive than ever because you’re using energy more effectively. You’ll get everything you want done and more.

Skeptical? Try it – you’ll love the results.
Thanks to: Linda Binns of Harmony Inside & Out, LLC.

36. Automation Equals Productivity

Just about any manual work can be replaced with a software solution that’s faster, more accurate, and more cost-efficient in the long run. So, replace your pen and paper – even Excel spreadsheet – with a specialized solution. Doing so will spare you wasted company hours that are typically spent on back-end support functions and administrative tasks.
Thanks to: Mike Salem of Vorex.

37. Batch and Time, Not a Crime

I like to use a timer on my phone (howler timer) and put tasks into 1 hour chunks.

Once I have started, I work flat out for the hour no break and then have the following 30 mins away from the desk.

I tend to make my to do list disappear within 3 hours.

This then creates gaps to email, Skype or sort any people who arrive, if there is no one, I use an hour to either create new ideas (whiteboard, research and book junkie) or to try some experiments.
Thanks to: Carl Barton of In4rm.

38. Enhance Time Style Preferences

To make the most out of your work time, it's really important to understand how you are wired up! Knowing your Time Style Preferences will help you create systems and use tools that support your natural time-management and organizing behaviors. Are you a Hopper, Hyper-Focus Style, Big Picture, Perfectionist Plus, Impulsive or Cliff-Hanger Style? Regardless, knowing what is natural allows you to instantly implement simple remedies to finally FIX your time issues!
Thanks to: Cena Block of Sane Spaces, LLC.

39. Do the Hard Stuff First

Everyone has certain tasks they'd like to avoid. It's easy to procrastinate doing them. Instead, make those tasks your priority. Get them out of the way early in the day. That frees up your mind and your time so you can focus on the tasks you enjoy. It also gives you a sense of accomplishment, which motivates you to be even more productive.
Thanks to: Susan Greene of Susan Greene, Copywriter.

40. Do More by Doing Less

Stop Multitasking: We like to think of ourselves as superior multi-taskers, however people are more effective when they designate a set time for a specific task and focus on that one thing. A great way to prevent multi-tasking is to Disconnect. Don't let technology rule your day. Limit checking email to three times daily: morning, mid-day and evening. Remove email and social media from your smart phone home screen to reduce the impulse to check it every time you touch your phone.
Thanks to: Korben Konrady of BARR Corporate Health.

41. Stop Guessing!

People are bad at guessing how long things will take. Scheduling tasks on your calendar is almost always a bad idea, because our days rarely go the way we plan them. There are a few cases where the concept of “time blocking” can be helpful, but routinely scheduling tasks on your calendar virtually ensures that you will spend more time reorganizing your calendar than actually getting things done. For effective task management, keep tasks on an electronic task list; prioritize by due date.
Thanks to: Maura Thomas of RegainYourTime.

42. 'Unplug' Into Productivity

A fantastic way to increase productivity is to unplug your computer while you work. Desperation prompts action, and the 10% charged alert on your laptop or desktop device spurs a driving energy. Suddenly, the word document you have been working on for weeks is completed in a half an hour. Essentially, this is putting a deadline on your tasks. However, this method has a real, piercing incentive for completion---your computer will shutdown if you do not complete it. Watch how much faster you work.
Thanks to: Michael Guberti of Teenager Entrepreneur.

43. Only Use One Computer Screen

It's common in offices today for employees to have multiple computer monitors. I used to have two big computer monitors and a laptop and I learned that it decreases my productivity. I'll have a bunch of different things open on each computer and am easily distracted by an email on one, chat on another and a project I'm working on the third. When I cut down my computer screens to just one, my productivity increased. I work on one project at a time and finish it without getting distracted.
Thanks to: Jim Belosic of ShortStack.

44. There's an App for That!

I find that when I really need to stay focused, I need to find away to avoid online distractions. And let's face it; sometimes, it takes a little more than just closing that Facebook or Twitter window. Thankfully, there's an app for that...Freedom. When I need to focus specifically on writing, I love the Om app. And when I need some quality, ambient, background noise, I go with Coffitivity. Seems these days, there really is an app for everything.
Thanks to: Katy Tafoya of Success for Solopreneurs.

45. Enjoy Life Together!

It might seem counter intuitive, but maybe that's because I own a chocolate company, but the best way to maximize productivity and efficiency is to take down time together. Sometimes, less really is more. I encourage everyone to take a Spooning Chocolate break, breath, enjoy, and share time together Spooning Chocolate. It's not about how much or how hard you work. It's about how much enjoyment and passion you can bring into your work each day. As they say, work smarter, not harder!
Thanks to: Craig Wolfe of Cococa Canard.

46. Focus on Tasks, Not on Time

Ironically, I'm able to maximize my work time by NOT looking at the time. I focus more on the things I need to get done that day, not on the number of hours I need to work. I work on important tasks first, things that needed to be done right away and work on non-essential tasks last. By focusing on the tasks (making lists help a lot), I'm able to do more with every hour I have. And even if I don't finish my list, all the important things get done and I can afford to put off the rest until tomorrow.
Thanks to: John Jonas of OnlineJobs.Ph.

47. Use Your Productivity PDA

To get the most out of your business day, use your Productivity PDA! "P" is for "postpone," "D" is for "delegate," and "A" is for "abandon." Always go for "A" first - the more you can definitively STOP doing, the more time you'll have for the important things in your business. Then, look for things to postpone (things that are important but can truly wait) and to delegate (things you are procrastinating on because you don't do them well or don't like doing them). Enjoy doing the rest!
Thanks to: Monique Y. Wells of Making Productivity Easy.

48. Don't Even Get Off Your Ass

Headaches, tension, & tiredness all affect workplace efficiency. Providing 15 minute on-site shiatsu therapy has proved a real boost, with fully clothed, no oils, no mess sessions and straight back to work with much of the tension lifted.
Energy needs a boost, but you're at the desk, no problem. We use seated, no sweat exercise to keep the body moving and the mind alert. We use a combination of T'ai Chi breathing exercises and steady beat cardio movements. Tension relieved for the day at least.
Thanks to: Ernie Boxall of Balance Health and Fitness.

49. Be the Early Bird

It's quiet at 4am. There aren't very many incoming emails and phone calls. It's the best time to do your real work – you know, the important stuff that too often gets pushed back. By starting at 4am, you can put in several hours of uninterrupted work on your big projects before the scheduled workday begins.
Thanks to: Brandon Bruce of Cirruspath.

50. PEAK-ing

Always try and schedule any task or meeting that will grow your business or its vision during YOUR high peak, high energy hours. If you are a "morning" person, then set your schedule to perform these tasks during morning hours. Avoid scheduling important tasks during hours (or periods) when you know you have a tendency to lack a high level of energy and focus.
Thanks to: S. Capri Edwards.

51. Business TV News Ambiance

I keep my television on all day in my office tuned into CNBC Financial News throughout the day to keep up with the larger business world. A steady stream of news information throughout the day keeps me abreast of world events and the business ambiance motivates me to stay business focused. Often, I find I make actionable business decisions based on breaking news or information that I am exposed to over the course of the day. I absolutely am a more efficient worker when the television is on.
Thanks to: Matthew Reischer of LegalAdvice.com.

52. Just Say NO!

My ONE best tip for maximizing time at work is to Just Say NO! Say No to checking your email every five minutes. Say No to spending an obscene amount of time on social media, both personal and business accounts. Say No to projects that may turn out to be time suckers. Say No to chatting on Skype with colleagues. Say No to unproductive meetings. Say No to unfulfilling networking events. Learn how to say no, and you’ll gain and save time in the long run.
Thanks to: Amandah Blackwell of Savvy-Writer.

53. Do Something Non-work Related

The advantage of working for oneself is we can have more control of our schedule. On days where I'm not teaching all day, I make sure to exercise and/or do an errand that normally wouldn't be done during the day. It breaks up the day, gives me more energy, and is a benefit I couldn't do when I worked a 9 to 5 job.
Thanks to: Howard Miller of Fulcrum Point.

54. Increasing Work Productivity

Eliminating interruptions increases productivity. That is accomplished by isolation; my calendar is blacked out for a two to three hour period during the afternoons, the phone turned off, the door closed, and I have a competent Officer Manager and staff to handle problems.
Thanks to: Sean O'Mordha of Celtic Publications.

55. Have It Together!

I never leave my desk until there is an order to all things.
All the calls I have to make are listed with a letter "A" and all the things I have do are numbered '1 thru..'
I do this for at least 3 days in advance. This allows me to see & allocate the amount of time needed for each thing. At the same time, if unexpected things arise, as they always do, I can see exactly where to place them without intruding on other items.
All items are arranged by priority & back burner items.
Thanks to: Harris Glasser of Serving The people Press.

56. Maximizing Empty Time

Take advantage of empty time. Don’t let the time you spend in waiting rooms and carpools go to waste. Prepare ahead of time and use this time to draft presentations, read newsletters/industry reports and any other tasks that can be done on the go.
Thanks to: Shannon Davis of Atlas Administrative Support.

57. List It or Forget It

When I get to work, there is so much going on. Employees have questions, emails are flowing and meetings are waiting. At the office, it is go, go. To get things done, I must be organized & stay on task. So, before I get to work - pretty much as soon as I wake up in the morning (often even the night before), I make a list of the most pressing items. I focus on a "Top 10", and then add some extras in case time permits. Pressing items get done. I feel accomplished. Good day!
Thanks to: Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation.com.

58. Touch the Paper Once!

I've tried many strategies for maximizing time and increasing productivity... and the ones I stick with are simple and memorable:
1) Touch the paper once- to manage paper (and works for managing emails) just deal with it once, file it, delete it or delegate it...but just touch the paper once.
2) Use a timer- track the time you spend on tasks.
3) Start with the toughest or most dreaded tasks first... the rest of the day will likely be a breeze when you get these off your desk.
Thanks to: Charmaine Hammond of Hammond International Inc.

59. Use "Crunch Time" Sparingly

Giving maximum effort to everything all of the time is a surefire recipe for burnout, but there are times when intense perseverance is essential. The key is using this "crunch time" sparingly instead of allowing it to become a debilitating habit.

Designate no more than one task per day (or even per week) as a "crunch time" activity. This will help you maintain a balance between short term and long term productivity by allocating your time and energy more strategically.
Thanks to: Greig Whitton of Evergrow.

60. “Mom, Please Call Me Later!"

“Mom, just because I’m here at home, I know it looks like I’m available for a nice long chat over coffee and some of your delicious home-baked cookies, but honestly, I’m really at work. Would you mind calling or coming over after business hours? I'd really appreciate it.” It takes a while, but our non-work friends and family do learn to wait until after our workday is over.
Thanks to: Flo Selfman of Words à la Mode.

61. Start Early & Close Your Email

To stay productive & on task with everything that must be done each day, I start early - 6am - by reading emails, responding as needed, and adding to the to-do list. Then, I CLOSE THE EMAIL. I don't open it again, read new emails, or even think about what might be piling up until after I've knocked out whatever the most pressing morning tasks are, whether building a website or holding consultations with clients. The constant ping of the inbox can add stress and distract you; everyone loses.
Thanks to: Shadra Bruce of DaSh factor.

62. The Power of the Pause

Incorporate meditation into your work day. Just 3 minutes to quiet your mind, focus on breathing and release tension will refresh and prepare you for what's next. Meditation is marvelous for stress reduction but even more powerful to connect to your inner wisdom & genius. It takes practice to stop the mind chatter, but is so rewarding to have a technique to increase your focus and your productivity. For best results, do a mini meditation 2-3 times/day.
Thanks to: Carla White of Crisp Connections.

63. Have a Distraction List

I'm using a distraction list. In essence, it's just a piece of paper that I have next to me on the desk.

So whenever I'm working, I jot down ideas, thoughts and tasks that cross my mind when I'm on my computer.

I then process this list once or twice per day and either take care of the items right away (if the task is a small one) or move it to my task management software and then schedule it.

With this list, I'm able to keep my mind clean and it helps me to focus on a task at hand.
Thanks to: Timo Kiander of Productive Superdad.

64. Socialize on Your Own Time

We all do it. We take a call from a buddy in the middle of the day to plan what we are going to do over the weekend. It seems like the right thing to do, hey, he's a buddy, but think about what that 5-10 minute call is doing to your productivity at work! It probably sets you back 30 minutes in terms of real productivity and lost focus. Train your friends that you do not take calls during certain hours and don't respond to messages during work. Do it at lunch or during a coffee break.
Thanks to: Ben Baker of CMYK Solutions Inc.

65. Fill the Gaps

Have you ever had the feeling that there are gaps in your day despite you being really busy? Control those gaps by planning your day ahead, allowing chunks of time to get important projects done, uninterrupted by phone, email or other distractions. And have a list of prioritized smaller tasks at hand with which you can fill time between meetings or short intervals that pop up during the day. I use an App called Paperless to structure my work efficiently.
Thanks to: Petra Mayer of Petra Mayer Consulting.

66. No Distractions...

...at least have a set time each day when you do not answer the phone, check email, or allow co-workers to pop in and say "have a minute?". Some routine tasks are easily stopped and started when the above mentioned interruptions happen. However, many projects need our 100% thought and focus. You "must" give yourself this uninterrupted time to work on these projects. And do it doing your work day - not after hours when no-one is around.
Thanks to: Heidi McCarthy of Customers First!.

67. Locked Away, Email Alerts Off

I turn off email alerts and shut the door. In the past, I would do neither and my day was spent interrupted by others. In the middle of projects, my email alerts popped up, all claiming to be urgent so I’d open them to tackle each request. I’d be working on 6 or 8 projects at once with more interruptions pouring in. Now, I spend an hour on email and then I shut the alerts off and respond to the emails that came during the night. I turn alerts off when working, and close the door.
Thanks to: Patricia Baronowski of Pristine Advisers.

68. Leverage Google Calendar

I juggle a lot of clients, so to keep my projects straight, I block off time on Google Calendar to work on each. During that period, I only focus on that client's needs. This way, I never miss a deadline!
Thanks to: Susan Payton of Egg Marketing & Communications.

69. Simpleology

Simpleology.com is a great online tool that can help you organize and prioritize your to-do's by setting up daily targets while also refocusing you on long term goals.

I find that the day can easily get away from you with emails and other various little issues. Without a deliberate agenda for the day, you could easily spend time taking care of 20 or so small things and be no better off!
Thanks to: Daniel MacDonald of Filter Butler.

70. Creative Procrastination

Practice creative procrastination. It makes procrastination work for you by shifting to PRIORITY tasks when you're blocked, not doing something frivolous or even annoying, like talking to a co-worker who’d rather be working. With creative procrastination, you move your key work projects along, just in a different order. For example, if you're blocked on writing a report's introduction, do the bibliography or chapter 1.
Thanks to: Jan Yager of Timemasters.com.

71. Learn How to say "I'm Busy"

Be prepared to tell co-workers (or anyone else who drops by unexpectedly) that you simply don't have time to talk. To avoid coming off as rude or dismissive, explain what you're working on and suggest another time to catch up. Most of the people who interrupt you have experienced interruptions of their own and will appreciate your candor. It will also make for a better conversation later when your mind isn't preoccupied with something else.
Thanks to: Frank Chalupa of Amata Office Centers.

72. Get Lean and Go Green!

I have to work double hard to maintain my small business and have a very regimented way of doing so that starts out with waking up at 6AM every day and going for a 4 Mile run plus workout. It helps me focus. When I get back in, shower, and have breakfast, it's 9AM and I'm ready to start the work day refreshed, pumped up, and clear headed. I strongly suggest a morning workout and a revamped diet (greens!) to get the most out of your brain power.
Thanks to: Richard Storm of NYPhotoNY.com.

73. Less is More

The best tip on maximizing time at work, is ironically, not multi-tasking (because very few if anyone can really multi-task well), and focusing on
single task completions throughout the day.
Thanks to: Jonathan Poston of BooksSetup.com.

74. Staying Focused on Tasks/Goals

Create a task list in the morning and print it out. Put on a headset with some background music, preferably with no voices and not popular, so as not to distract, and start working on the list. Check emails and other media at pre-designated times. You may want to add the next day's task, to create a sense of honest urgency to completing the current day's tasks. If things come up during the day, add them to the end of the list for that day.
Thanks to: Sarah Weinberger of Butterflyvista Corporation.

75. Focus and Finish

Changing "work hats" uses up work time. Focus and Finish one thing at a time. Every time you switch topics, it eats up 5 to 10 minutes. Just 6 unnecessary topic changes in a day takes away up to an hour of your productive time. Use your calendar to help minimize topic changes - book meetings in blocks, don't scatter them throughout the day. And book work time for yourself to Focus and Finish a project. Minimize interruptions by turning off email alerts and phone ringers during Focus times.
Thanks to: Jean Cook of The Alternative Board - Tulsa.

76. The Day EVERYTHING Gets Done!

To maximize your work (or personal day), list the 6 most important things you need to do for each day and estimate how much time each will take.

It's even better if you put them in your calendar, because this aligns your mind that THESE are the items that absolutely will get done TODAY!

It makes your work day a bit like the day before vacation…because that's the day EVERYTHING gets done.
Thanks to: Michael Bremmer of Telecomquotes.com.

77. Skip Email & Get More Done

Throughout the day, I’m always seeing questions or topics I need to talk to people about. As they come up, I add them to Asana, a web based tool designed to enable teamwork without email, and tag them with people’s names. That way, when I have my regular check-ins with people, I can pull up the existing list and use it as an agenda. This lets me avoid flooding people with emails.
Thanks to: Alex Bratton of Lextech.

78. Stick to a To-Do List

The best way for me to keep organized and stay on track all day is to create a to-do list each morning. That way, if I ever feel like I have a little down time, I can always look to the list for what I can be working on. It also gives perspective on how much I need to get done before the end of the day.
Thanks to: Deborah Sweeney of MyCorporation.

79. Work Happy

Boost productivity and efficiency by working happily!

Science suggests a boost in happiness raises productivity 10-25% and even more. Happiness can be boosted throughout the day in a variety of ways:

* Get real human connection to others, especially face to face.

* Focus completely on making progress toward a meaningful, challenging, and possible goal, getting into a flow.

* Get physically active: lift weights during a phone meeting, or go on a walk for your next 1:1 meeting.
Thanks to: Scott Crabtree of Happy Brain Science.

80. Use That List! It Is That Easy

I chose to create a list of TEN things needed to be accomplished. At the top is the targeted date things are needed to be accomplished by. Once the list of ten items is fully completed, I tear off list and create a new one. Old School? Absolutely. Needful, workable, reasonable, realistic? Big time YES!
Thanks to: Tony Marren of OPERATION JUST ONE CAN.

81. Post-It Exception to Paperless

PandaDoc is all about the paperless office, which typically saves all sorts of time (since it eliminates the whole print/scan/file nightmare). But at my desk, there's one big exception: I put post-its everywhere. On especially busy days, I line all available surfaces -- whiteboards, monitors, picture frames with handwritten stickies. Keeping your to-do list up and in view off-screen does wonders for your focus. The post-it factor allows you to rearrange and reprioritize throughout the day.
Thanks to: Christy Delehanty of PandaDoc.

82. Put Down That Phone!

When I need to focus on a project, or when I have a ton of things to get done in a day, I hide my phone.

I put it somewhere out of sight and out of mind so that I can work without interruption. This allows me to give each task the full attention it deserves, and helps me get through each task efficiently. On the days I hide my phone, I usually finish my work ahead of schedule.
Thanks to: Jessica Greenwalt of Pixelkeet.

83. Making Better Choices

When I can see all of my choices, I make better choices. Therefore, my key to productivity is a digital to-do list which syncs across all devices (I use Toodledo). Everything gets a due date, and the list is sorted by due date. Each evening, looking at the list and adjusting due dates provides a list with tasks in the order they need to be done. The corollary is each task is worded clearly. Clarity in wording makes action easier. When action is easy, action happens.
Thanks to: Frank Buck of Frank Buck Consulting, Inc.

84. Daily Goal Sharing

We have a team huddle every morning where every individual shares their #1 goal for the day (which must be quantifiable), and if they completed their #1 goal the day before. We use a white board to keep track of progress. Each individual also shares if anything or anyone is "blocking" them from completing their #1 goal, so others know what needs to be taken care of first in order to maximize productivity.
Thanks to: Ketti Salemme of TINYhr.

85. License to Say NO

As we have traveled around the country giving interactive workshops, we found that the ability to say NO without feeling guilty was one of the best tips. So, we came up with a license to say NO that you can download and print out to remind you it is ok to say No. We also suggest getting together with friends and have a just say NO party! Practice saying NO 'til it feels great!
Thanks to: Deborah Bacarella of 7 F Words.

86. Schedule Work ... and Breaks!

My best advice for maximizing time at work is to schedule blocks of time for each task and take mental breaks for rejuvenation each hour.
Thanks to: Eulynn Gargano of FutureWise Consulting.

87. Mono-tasking Rules the Day!

Understand, it's important to maximize your efficacy (not efficiency, but your focus on the RIGHT things).

Write down the one task that makes you the most uncomfortable (this emotion is generally attached to the most important items…)

Now, ask yourself: “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied?”

Then, FOCUS. While many people act under the premise that small blocks of 15/20 mins bring the same results, they won't. It takes too long to re-immerse!
Thanks to: Greg Archbald of GreaseBook.

88. Power Hour

Construct a POWER HOUR where you tackle all of the potential revenue generated tasks for the day. It's proactive, so that means focusing on your list and not responding to emails, calls, etc. during that time.

Or, if you're a procrastinator, use your POWER HOUR for those tasks that keep hanging on the "to do" list.

Plan ADMIN HOUR as needed to tackle the admin-related tasks (I use Friday for Admin time and to review and set my schedule for the following week).
Thanks to: Tara Goodfellow of Athena Educational Consultants, Inc.

89. Stop Checking Your Email!

It’s SO easy to get completely distracted by email – as soon as a new email comes in, I find myself going off on a million tangents trying to take care of whatever action the email requires. To solve this, I started only checking email during designated email checking times: at the beginning of the day, at lunch, and at the end of the work day. This way, I can actually make a dent in my to-do list while still responding to clients within 24 business hours.
Thanks to: Rebekah Voss of The Happy Passport.

90. Minimize Distractions

The best way to maximize work time is to totally focus on your work and to minimize distractions. For example, put your cell phone away (so you don’t even hear it buzzing in silent mode), get off Facebook and other social media sites (possibly also email) and have less coffee with your colleagues. Just focus. Just get it done, no matter what. Don’t get distracted, whatever happens. Then, take care of your cell phone, Whatsapp, Facebook etc. at the end of the day or during your lunch break.
Thanks to: Jochen Siepmann of The Peak Performance Professor.

91. 3 Hours of Productive Work

Through trial and error, I found something that kills procrastination and increases productivity.
At least three times a week, I work in 3-hour blocks.
During each block, email is CLOSED. The cell phone is OFF and in the other room. The telephone is SILENT. I’d disable the doorbell if I could.
Set a timer for 30 minutes. You’ll have a 5-minute break so you’ll work hard and undisturbed.
Then, use the bathroom, make a coffee and get a stretch in. Rinse and Repeat: 30 + 5.
Thanks to: Catherine Saykaly-Stevens of The Networking Web.

92. We Have to Work Not 12 Hours

Feel the rest and distract from work is a good way to success. Steve Jobs once said “We have to work not 12 hours, and head”. And he was absolutely right. Business success really depends on view & to look at the problems on the other side with a fresh mind. 4 hours for working, 2 hours for walking, 2 hours for reading is strategically better than an 8-hour day.
Thanks to: Sergey Kovelenov of Oh, my ( Russian apparel brand).

93. Jonny 2-Screens

Everyone in your organization who sits at a desk really should have two PC screens in front of them. One could be for e-mail and their "normal" work program (CRM, finance, planning etc) and the other for ad-hoc work - but the users will work out the most efficient split. It not only saves time for the user, but also speeds up communication between colleagues by removing the Waiting To Respond time. Training, of course, is vital - but only takes minutes. Payback is measured in days.
Thanks to: John Coldwell of InfoQuest.

94. The 25th Hr: 2 Time Mgmt Tips

1. Sorting through too many emails- Learn how to use the “Rules Wizard” in your email program. Hours can be saved once individual folders are set up and urgent messages from important people are flagged.
2. Managing interruptions, phone calls, etc. Schedule your time for phone calls. Revise your voicemail message to indicate phone calls will be made between the hours of 2:00-4:00 and then “stick to it.” If needed, instructions can be provided for “urgent” messages.”
Thanks to: Mary Anne Kochut of Champions for Success, LLC.

95. Break Time!

I take breaks. I do a lot of creating and writing. Taking short breaks every hour or so - AWAY from my computer, keeps me going for longer periods of time. Grab a snack. Stretch. Breathe. And it feels good.
Thanks to: Misti Patrella of Coach Misti.

96. Time Block Your Day

Schedule every aspect of your day, even non-productive tasks. Do the low impact task at the beginning and end of the day. Do the high impact task during the part of the day when you’re at your best. Control your day, don't let it control you.
Thanks to: Rod Brown of OnceLogix.

97. Stand Up for Short Meetings

I suggest “stand-up meetings.” As a certified PMP, I've observed that projects usually take as much time as is in the schedule or more -- rarely less. The same goes with meetings. Once the attendees settle into their seats, if the meeting is scheduled for an hour, it takes an hour – or a little more. I like to stand – it creates more urgency. As a consequence, the meetings do not always expand to fill the allotted time.
Thanks to: David Scarola of The Alternative Board (TAB).

98. Maximize Your Time

Make a to-do list each morning and work that list each day as if you are going out of town that evening. Nothing can stand between you and accomplishing those tasks, and when you are going out of town, they always all seem to get done.
Thanks to: Adam Kruse of Hermann London Realtors.

99. Kill 2 Birds with One Workday

The best way I've found to stay focused, happy and healthy while being a busy entrepreneur has been to use a timer while you work. Set that timer to a "work period" of 25-50 minutes and a "break" of 5-15 minutes. When it's a work period, race that clock. Get as much done as possible! And during the break phase, don't just grab a snack and play around on social media. Use this time to stretch, do some strength moves, mini-cardio bursts, etc. Huge boost to my days!
Thanks to: Ashlee Thurlow of Ashlee Thurlow.

100. More Time in Two Simple Steps

First, and most importantly, stop telling yourself you never have enough time. This habit, shared by all-too-many people, is one of the most self-defeating things you can do. Remember, the universe will deliver to you whatever you affirm to be true. Start telling yourself you always have plenty of time and watch as time seems to expand to meet your needs.

Next, make a point of writing a list of the three most important things you have to do and do nothing else until they're addressed.
Thanks to: Jim Donovan of happy@work.

101. Coffee-mate?

To improve productivity: if you are a manager, listen to what your staff says. Do not argue with them and then, when they have all spoken, make your decision. If on the other hand you are an employee, increase your productivity by drinking less coffee.
Thanks to: Jacob Singer of www.jacobashersinger.com.

Do you have another tip to maximize your work time? Please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!

And if you would like to become a part of the CarolRoth.com contributor network and find out about opportunities to contribute to future articles, sign up here: http://www.carolroth.com/carolroth-com-blog-contributor-sign-up/

Article written by
Carol Roth is a national media personality, ‘recovering’ investment banker, investor, speaker and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is currently an on-air contributor for the national cable television station CNBC, the pre-eminent name in business news. Previously, Carol was the host and co-producer of The Noon Show, a current events talk show on WGN Radio, one of the top stations in the country, and a frequent guest on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business and other stations. Carol's multimedia commentary covers business and the economy, current events, politics and pop culture topics. Carol has helped her clients complete more than $2 billion in capital raising and M&A transactions. She is a Top 100 Small Business Influencer (2011, 2012 & 2013) and has her own action figure. Twitter: @CarolJSRoth
7 comments
aegispower
aegispower

Thanks for including our CEO's response!

cenablock
cenablock

It is an honor to be in this group of professionals! Thanks to all for the great tips!

Rebekah Voss
Rebekah Voss

So thrilled to be featured here Carol (#89) and to see all the other great tips people have shared. I feel more productive already!

TimoKiander
TimoKiander

Thank you for including my tip (#63)! Great people, great tips!

Cheers,

Timo

CatherineNetWeb
CatherineNetWeb

Thank you for including mine (#91). 

I'm already practicing several good tips (just started #93), and there are so many more fantastic ideas all on 1 page. 

Thank you Carole. 

DrFrankBuck
DrFrankBuck

Thanks for including mine (#83). I also especially like #34, 56, 70, 75, and 93.

 
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