Making Better Use Of Your Time, By Lisa Kanarek

lisaIf I could buy extra hours in the day, I’d gladly pay cash. Unfortunately you can’t get more hours in the day, but you can do a few things to make better use of your time:

Have a place for everything. The old—and sometimes annoying—saying, have a “place for everything and everything in its place” still rings true. Don’t put things somewhere “for now,” or they may end up there forever. Designate a specific place for the papers and supplies you need on a regular basis and remember to store the same types of items together. You will spend less time searching for lost items and more time accomplishing important tasks.

Keep the items you use often, within reach and in stock. Even if you have a small office, each time you have to leave your desk to get something, you waste valuable time. You also leave yourself open to distractions. While you’re on your way to the place you store extra supplies, you may find something else to do.

Hire outside help if necessary. Concierge businesses—personal service businesses—continue to grow as demands on our time increase. Small business owners often don’t want to hire additional people full time, so they opt for freelancers. It’s easier to hire someone on a project by project basis than to bring someone on full time. A good way to decide if it’s worth hiring someone else is to multiply your hourly rate by the number of hours you think the task will take. That will make it easy to decide if it’s worth your time to pay someone to do something for you. If your time could be better spent on projects and tasks that would generate income for your business, bring someone in to do the routine tasks that have to be done.

Follow what I call “structured flexibility.” Structured flexibility is when you make your “to do” list and set your priorities, yet realize your priorities may change at any moment. Even the best plans change. Be willing to change your priorities throughout the day. It’s usually easier to get the low priority items done than it is to accomplish the important ones, so you need to make a conscious effort to concentrate on the high priority tasks.

Lisa is one of the nation’s leading home office experts and the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com, a firm that advises corporations and individuals on all aspects of working from home. She also writes the blog, Working Naked (www.workingnaked.net).