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Easy Ways to Get More Done Each Day

If you've ever worked for most of a morning or afternoon and not gotten much accomplished, you may have wondered where the time went.


"But an effective manager knows exactly where his or her time goes," says Marc Corsini, president of the Corsini Consulting Group in Birmingham, AL. "And anyone can become more effective at managing time. It's a matter of pinpointing how you spend your day, overcoming time-wasting hurdles and concentrating on making the most of the time you have."

Mr. Corsini offers the following suggestions about how to get more done each day.

Time matters
  • Try to accomplish as much as you can in the shortest amount of time. "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion," says Mr. Corsini. "So instead of setting aside a day to write a report, give yourself a morning or afternoon. Chances are you'll knock it out in the time you allow."
  • Prioritize. You only have enough time in your day to do the important things. "A day consists of three kinds of activities: Have to do, need to do and nice to do," says Mr. Corsini. "Forget the nice to dos. Start with the have to dos and work your way down. Spend your first hour at work on your most important activity for the day, then pick the next most important and so on."
  • Focus on outcomes, not activities. "Nobody cares how hard you're working," says Mr. Corsini. "They only care about what you're accomplishing."
  • Be a planner. Set aside the last 15 minutes of each business day to evaluate what you have done that day and plan to do the next. Establish and prioritize your objectives, to dos and appointments for the coming day. "Avoid the 'planning paradox' of failing to plan because it takes time," says Mr. Corsini. "And be sure to focus on short- and long-term planning."
  • Plan a weekly vacation. "Most people are the most productive right before they go on a vacation. They have a sense of urgency. They delegate. They focus. They work on the most important projects and forget the other stuff," says Mr. Corsini. "Pick one day a week and act like you're about to go on vacation for a month. You'll be surprised how much you'll accomplish."
  • Minimize phone tag. To do so, focus on making calls when you're most likely to reach people. Develop additional contacts within an organization. Get to know your contacts' assistants. Leave careful, creative messages defining exactly what you need and your time frame. Establish regular "in-office" hours so people know when they can reach you.
  • Make appointments with yourself. When you have an important project you need to finish, schedule time on your calendar to complete it.
  • Leave an hour early. "Having less time to get things done forces you to work only on the really important tasks," says Mr. Corsini. "By reducing the amount of time you have, you force yourself to focus on results."
  • Look out for time robbers. People can -- and do -- rob you of your time. "Robbers include co-workers, friends, vendors and some customers," says Mr. Corsini. "Avoid, neglect and manage those who rob you of your time when you're at work."
  • Give yourself some slack. Schedule slack time in your day so you can handle unexpected activities and issues.
  • Develop a sense of priority. "The best cure for procrastination is to develop a strong sense of urgency," says Mr. Corsini.