Working Smarter: 5 Things to Save Time at Work

One office job that I had after graduate school demanded long hours.  However, my goal when I got to work each morning was to leave as early as possible.  It’s not that I hated the job (I loved it) and it’s not that I was bad at my job (I got multiple raises and bonuses while I was there).  It’s that I had activities where I wanted to spend my time outside of work.  Desiring as much time as possible to pursue them, I began considering ways to maximize my time. Now, when working with clients, I find that many of them spend more time at work than is genuinely necessary.  Often, we find that the following steps help them shave hours off their work week.

1.      Set an appointment with yourself

Pick a day of the week and make an appointment with yourself to look at the week ahead.  This should be a consistent appointment to set next week’s goals based on upcoming deadlines.  My appointment is Thursday at 2pm because I can use any extra time on Friday to get start on next week’s goals.

2.       Turn your goals list into a daily to-do list

The goals list should be reviewed each day to create a daily to do list.  The to-do items should only be one step each.  For example, “finish transition plan” should really be broken into “call attorney to finalize documents,” “review documents,” and “present documents to the board.”

3.      Delegate as much of your to-do list as possible

The best use of your time is to work within your strengths, so delegate tasks.  For example, if creating a presentation is not your strength, then delegate that to someone else.  The time it takes to train someone else to do a task will be a large investment at the beginning, but will save you time in the long run.

4.       Place calls early in the morning

Make any calls that you need to make in the morning.  That way, you are more likely to get a call back within the day.  If you get a voicemail, leave a detailed voicemail and, if necessary, ask the recipient to leave you a detailed voicemail as well.  This will save you from wasting time playing phone tag.

5.       Designate space on your desk

Divide your desk into four equal quadrants.  In the bottom left, put any projects you are currently working on.   The bottom right should be the next project you will start.  The top right space should be projects that you are waiting for input from others prior to beginning the project again.  In the top left quadrant, place any pictures or mementos.  Anything else from your desk should go in your tickle file.  See the video at for short instructions on starting this system.