How to Abolish the Top Five Time Wasters

Time wasting is of the key reasons stopping businesses performing and growing to their potential. Procrastination, answering emails and the telephone, unnecessary meetings, unexpected visitors and not having a daily game plan all affect your ability to do your job. Find out more about these time wasters and how to combat them, ensuring you are as efficient as you can be.

By Bridgette Boudreaux

1. Procrastination
"I will do it tomorrow", "I will get to it soon" or whatever excuse you use, it's all procrastination. The feeling that you will complete the project or task in the near future will rob you of your time today and cause unnecessary stress when there are no more tomorrows left. In order to avoid this time trap, start your workday with the most unpleasant task first. Decide and visualise the desired outcome of the project and list small daily assignments that will get you to completion.

You don't have to complete the project in one day: just work on it daily and set deadlines in order to reach the desired outcome. Also, think about the consequences of not doing the project or task, this alone will motivate you to get it done. Block time on your schedule for tasks and commit to following your schedule; this will help you avoid putting off until tomorrow. Once the project is completed, you will feel emotionally great and able to complete other duties.

2. Emails and Telephone
Block time in your schedule to read and reply to emails. I check and reply to emails in the morning before I start my daily tasks and once again as I close my day. I only check emails during the day if I have a few minutes due to cancellations or I have finished a task sooner than anticipated. If you review and respond to emails all day or whenever you get mail, you will tend to spend more time corresponding on the internet and not completing other much needed tasks.

Create folders for emails that you do not have time to read but would like to read later on your personal time. Use filters to avoid the over abundance of unwanted mail and keep replies short and to the point. Depending upon your services or products, it is great to establish a "frequently asked questions" list. You can use it to reply to questions that don't need customised replies, or post on your webpage (if you have one) as a point of reference.

3. Meetings
Before you attend or arrange a meeting make sure you have an agenda. The agenda should include the purpose of the meeting, intended outcome and action items to review. Set a start and ending time for meetings. Stay on schedule and do not allow the meeting to go past the scheduled ending time. Take accurate minutes or tape the meeting and have the notes transcribed and send it to all parties in attendance. Make sure there is a necessary need for the meeting so you do not spend time outside of your office if it is not required.

4. Unexpected Visitors
Set office hours (especially if you are a home-based business owner) and share the hours with family, friends and associates. Let them know that you are working during those hours and you should only be distracted if there is an emergency. Keep your office door closed and hang a do not disturb sign on your door. Do not engage in aimless conversation: make a decision and end discussion.

5. No Daily Game Plan
You must start your day knowing what you need to accomplish on that day. Do not waste time wondering what you will do today. Purchase a weekly planner or use a spiral notebook and list time and tasks; any appointments; and blocked time for telephone calls, emails and marketing. Put everything on your schedule, with deadlines. At the end of the day, clear your desk and plan the next day's activities. You will feel organised, proud and able to enjoy your day without worrying about tomorrow's tasks - they are already planned. At the end of the week, you can than evaluate your weekly progress and make changes accordingly.

Bridgette Boudreaux is a business coach who teaches small business owners to get it all done in six hours or less daily. Bridgette has developed a successful five-step system. You can learn more at

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