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Time Savers

Gaining an extra hour a day can help you grow your business. Here's how.

By Donald E. Wetmore

You can’t move onto the next business level without knowing how to get more done in less time and with less stress. If you can recapture a wasted hour here and there and put it to better use, you’ll increase your daily productivity and the success of your practice.

Here are some time savers that will help you get at least one more hour out of your day, which you can use to do the things you really want to do.

Stop reinventing the wheel. Create systems and shortcuts to handle repetitive tasks. For example:

  • Save standard letters in your computer along with standard documents such as directions to your office and various informational articles you share with others.
  • Keep an adequate amount of supplies you can readily access.
  • Use one calendar to keep track of appointments.
  • Work with a clean desk.
  • Have your most frequently used items within arm’s reach.
  • Schedule maintenance for your equipment and for yourself.

Get adequate sleep
You can have a great to-do list for your next day, but if you are tired, your productivity will be compromised. Schedule a sufficient amount of sleep, which differs for each of us. Some of us need eight hours, some need more, some need less. Your body knows how much you need.

Speed reading
The average person reads at about 200 words per minute and spends a couple of hours each day reading. What if you could double your reading speed? What takes two hours can now be done in one hour, or you can continue to spend the same amount of time reading, but read twice as much.

Sign up for a speed-reading class. For example, after a six-hour speed-reading seminar, a typical student at least doubles his reading speed and significantly increases his comprehension.

Communication skills
A lot of your personal success is in direct relationship to your ability to competently and confidently communicate orally and in writing to your staff and clients. Make an ongoing commitment to improving your speaking and writing skills. You can find speaking and writing classes at your local community college, and the local club of Toastmasters International will help you overcome any stage fright you may have.

Your people network
Cooperation has a lot to do with your personal productivity. Someone who does not enjoy others’ cooperation can surely be productive, but not as productive as one who does. You need to regularly update your list of personal contacts and your networking list. Always offer to help those on your list whenever you can. Do it right, and your network will be there for you when you need it.

Maintain balance
Your life consists of seven vital areas: health, family, finances, intellectual pursuits, social activities, your profession and spirituality. You will not spend equal amounts of time in each area every day, but if you spend a sufficient amount of quality time in each area over the long run, your life will be balanced. If you ignore any one of your areas, however, you will fall out of balance, which can sabotage your success.

Failing to take time for your health now will force you to take time for illness later. Ignore your family, and later on you’ll spend a lot of time re-establishing those relationships.

The power of the pen
A faint pen has more power than the keenest mind. Get into the habit of writing down things you need to do using one tool (a Day-Timer, pad of paper, Palm Pilot, etc.) Your mind is best used for the big picture rather than for holding on to the details. The details are important, but manage them with the pen. Writing things down helps you easily remember all that you need to accomplish.

Daily planning
It is said that people do not plan to fail, they fail to plan. Take time each night to take control of the most precious resource at your command: the next 24 hours. Plan your work each day, then work that plan. Write up a to-do list with all you need to do and all you want to do for the next day. Without a plan for the day, you can easily be distracted and spend your time serving the loudest voice rather than attending to the most important things of the day, things that will enhance your productivity.

Donald E. Wetmore produces time-management seminars for the Productivity Institute, Stratford, Conn. You may reach him at

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