Successful people are very careful about how they spend their time. No matter how you slice it, we all have 24 hours in a day, so the key lies in learning to use time wisely. Here are some ways to dramatically increase productivity through more effective use of time.

Look into how time is currently spent – If it seems like the day slips by all too quickly, try creating a log of your daily activities. Once you see where you are spending your time, you can identify and focus on the activities that provide the greatest returns for you personally and financially. Start your log by writing down what time you wake up, get ready, and begin work. Calculate how much time you spend on individual activities such as email, phone calls, and client work.

Calculate the worth of your time – Time is money. Knowing how much your time is actually worth can help you make better decisions as to whether you should perform a task or outsource it. For instance, if your time is worth $200 an hour, you are far better off paying someone $30 an hour to edit your newsletter. Also, take the time to determine how much time a day you need to spend on billable activities to make your desired profit.

Create a daily schedule – Don’t start your day without a to-do list. Make a list of tasks and categorize them into business building activities, client activities, and personal items. Then break bigger unmanageable projects into smaller doable chunks so they are less intimidating and are easier to accomplish.

Remove distractions and time thieves: Time thieves are lurking everywhere like viruses. Think about which activities are eating up your time. For me personally, these items include email, social calls, and WhatsApp messages. I address the email demon by dealing with email twice a day at set times. When someone calls on a personal matter during work time, I politely ask if I can call them back during the afternoon and remind them of my work hours.

Keep with the plan: Try not to get sidetracked from your plan. One of my friends has a motto, “A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency for me”. It’s a smart one to live by. Unless it’s a true emergency, or you are being paid rush time, you probably don’t need to squeeze a last-minute request in today. Also, by assigning yourself project deadlines, you can keep on top of projects and avoid those dreaded last-minute emergencies.

Be organized: When things are tidy, it saves you time and frees you to focus on the task at hand. Find and follow your own organizational style and see the difference.

Choose an inspiring time and place. We are all built differently. Do the tasks which take your most brain power when you are at your prime. Are you a morning person or do you work best burning the midnight oil? Create an ultimate work haven that is clean, distraction-free, and inspiring.

Bundle like tasks together: As you work through your daily list, try to chunk your tasks into like activities. By creating a separate chunk of time for answering email, invoicing, making return phone calls, you’ll save time and mental energy.

Avoid interruptions: Trying to do the same thing over and over again with interruptions can be maddening. Once you start a task, try to finish it to the end. If something comes up that you need to remember or do, unless it’s urgent, simply add it to your list and continue on with your current project.

Prioritize. Have more to do than hours in the day? By prioritizing your tasks, you’ll make sure that you are tackling the items that matter most. Create a system that works for you. One standard way of prioritizing is to mark items with A, B, and C. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What items MUST be done today?
  • Which items can be rescheduled?
  • What can be delegated?
  • Which tasks most closely match my priorities and goals?
  • Which items can be eliminated?

Learn to say no. Are you adding one more item to your never-ending list? You are in control of your time. Be strong and uphold your personal boundaries. When you are well-rested and treat yourself and your family to the time off you deserve, you’ll feel happier and more productive when it’s time to go back to work.

Before you say yes to something, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you really have the time or energy to do that extra task?
  • Do I like this customer? Are they good for me?
  • Will it be profitable?
  • Does it invade your personal time?
  • Does it involve doing something you enjoy?
  • Does it fit in with your list of priorities and goals?

Why wait for success when you can literally schedule it! By mastering your time, you can accomplish much more with less effort. Be choosey about how you spend your time. Focus on activities that most closely match your goals. By taking the time to monitor, measure, and manage your time, you will enjoy an abundance of success and happiness.