Why you should stop using voicemail - and other essential productivity tips

Here are some ways to make the most of your time.

By Rani Daly Founder, Miss Moneypenny

ANY NEW BUSINESS takes time to grow – and in the early days, you’ll find yourself putting in every hour available to make sure your venture is a success.

But are you getting the most out of your time? Here are five great ways to make yourself even more productive:

1. Don’t just de-clutter your desk – de-clutter your mind

We’ve all heard the phrase ‘tidy desk, tidy mind’. While it’s one thing being tidy, it’s another being organised.

When you’ve got a lot to think about and get done, a well-organised desk can help you make the most of the time you spend there. Everything on your desk should be there for a reason, have its place and contribute to your daily workflow.

Keep your to-do list close to hand and don’t be tempted to write anything else on the same pad, or you’ll lose track of where your list is and what you need to do.

And instead of reacting to every new thought that pops into your head, have a parking space for ideas – written on post-it notes – and schedule time to go through them later on.

2. Have smarter meetings

If you spend a lot of time in meetings, be sure to make the most of every single minute. Have an agenda – if you don’t know what you’re hoping to achieve, you’ll more than likely accomplish very little.

Set a time limit and keep to it – it’s often a good idea to say you have to be somewhere else by a certain time, even if you don’t! This will give you a reason to move the conversation along and to refocus the discussion on the points that matter most to you.

Also turn your phone off; if you’re constantly being interrupted, you’re not giving the meeting your full attention, and it will take longer to achieve the meeting’s goals.

3. Don’t just manage your time, manage your energy

Are you a morning person? Schedule your high-value tasks for the start of the day, and then you know you’ll be giving them your full attention. Struggling with concentration mid-afternoon? Work through the low-value tasks that you know you can do with your eyes closed.

Building your routine around your highs and your lows will ensure that you get the most out of your day.

4. Spend less time listening to voicemail

When someone leaves you a voicemail, you have to listen to the message, note down his or her number, call them back and then have the conversation. It’s time-consuming.

It might seem counter-intuitive always to take the call no matter what you’re doing – but the time you save doing this does add up. And for those times when you really can’t answer, why not put your email address into your voicemail greeting?

5. Think about your time in terms of an hourly rate – and don’t sell yourself short

How much is each hour of your time worth to the business? If it’s €100, should you really be spending an hour each day filing? Assign a value to every task on your to-do list, and if it’s not going to pay you what you’re worth, delegate.

Rani Daly is the founder and managing director of Miss Moneypenny, an Ireland-based global virtual assistant agency.

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