Use These Proven 22 Time-Saving Tips To Work Smarter

“You must master your time rather than becoming a slave to the constant flow of events and demands on your time. And you must organize your life to achieve balance, harmony, and inner peace.”  – Brian Tracy

Are you putting in extra hours at the office, or spending an hour or more a day commuting? Here are 20 proven shortcuts and tips for saving time and making your day more productive.

  1. Under Commit and Over-Deliver: Whenever you set a timeline to deliver to another person, always give yourself more time than necessary. Giving yourself more time than you think you’ll need will also reduce the stress levels. Not only does this give you a cushion for unanticipated delays, but you can usually deliver projects earlier than you promised, and go above and beyond the call of duty.
  2. Deadlines: Most action items do not get completed unless there is a deadline. If you have a task or project you want to complete, set a date for completion. Set that date a few days earlier than really necessary. This will help you to avoid procrastination and banish the last-minute stress.
  3. Set Goals: Humans have a tendency towards directionless drifting. Set yourself career goals, job goals, and personal goals, and make sure that you maintain the momentum and move forwards, however slowly. Focus on your goals and objectives helps you prioritize and concentrate on the tasks that bring you
  4. Organize and Systemize: An organized office, desk and filing system makes doing your work easier, less stressful, and more productive.
  5. Efficient E-Mails: Be efficient with your e-mail use. Think of your email inbox as a virtual desk.  An overflowing inbox is akin to sitting at a desk overflowing with paper and files requiring your attention.  Instead, set aside time to process email. When you open an email, take action on that email in that moment. Ask yourself, “Is an action required?”  If you can handle that action within a few minutes, do it now.  If the action requires more time, note the action on your task list or calendar – or place emails requiring ‘action’ in an “Action” folder.
  6. Turn Off E-Mail: E-mail can become addictive and stressful.  There’s a psychological need (curiosity) to open every email as it comes in. People overuse e-mails, which are often time consuming to type. Where possible, avoid endless e-mail tennis and pick up the phone, or arrange a face-to-face meeting. Businesses used to run perfectly well without e-mail – avoid the temptation to use it just because you can.
  7. E-Mail Discipline: Try to keep your inbox as clear as possible, and use spam filters, an e-mail filing system, and concise, clear subject lines. To reply to e-mails, use short paragraphs and bullet-lists, for speed and clarity.
  8. Task Grouping: Group similar tasks together, which saves time and makes sure that you are in the right frame of mind. If you have a list of phone calls to make, or an inbox full of e-mails demanding replies, set aside a time to handle a group of similar tasks all at once. Finish one group, and then move on to the next.
  9. End Meeting Madness: The timing of meetings is critical. Morning meetings are usually more productive than late afternoon meetings, when people are tired, thinking about getting home, and less likely to ask good questions.
  10. The Night Before: Start your day the night before. At the end of the day, review your list for accomplishments and list of three to five of the most important tasks that you intend to complete the next day. When your day begins, look at the list first and stick to completing those tasks.
  11. The 80/20 Rule: The Pareto Principle works. Concentrate on the 20% (the most important) before thinking about the other 80%.
  12. Prioritize: Put tasks into one of three categories, Low, medium, and high priority; A, B, and C; or even, ‘might get around to it,’ ‘better do something about it,’ and ‘Someday Maybe.’ A’s are something that needs doing before you lose your job, client or employee, as part of the 20%. B’s are tasks needing to be done, but not until the A’s are over. C’s are for when you have a quiet moment in your schedule.
  13. Voice Mail: Use your voicemail by encouraging callers to ‘Please leave a brief message.’ When you listen to your messages, make a note of when you will call them back, by creating a “Call” list on your task list or calendar. Set aside time daily when you review your “Call” list and return all calls.
  14. Follow up on Meetings & Conversations: If you make a decision, or reach an agreement over the phone, send a brief e-mail to confirm and clarify.
  15. Set up a Reading File: For any reading that isn’t critical, put it in a ‘To Read’ file and set aside weekly time to catch up on reading.
  16. Computer Control: A slow computer soon eats into your time. Keep your software up to date, and use ‘Scandisk’ and ‘Defragment’ regularly, to clean up old files and streamline your hard drive. Seek computer training for any applications that you use frequently. For computer video tutorials, check out, or
  17. Delegate: If you can, delegate jobs that allow others to develop skills and experience. Find out if there are people around you that would like to take on a project or two that you can’t find the time and interest for.
  18. Driving to Work: If you drive to work, and cannot car-pool or use public transport, try listening to training CD’s, or use a hands-free telephone device to handle some of your phone calls while commuting.
  19. Flextime / Work from Home: Some organizations allow staff to work from home for one or two days per week, reducing the amount of commuting time. Virtual office technology is making this easier, and without interruptions in the office, working at home can increase productive time.
  20. Procrastination: Are you putting off tasks you don’t like?  Commit to doing those tasks the first part of your day. The rest of your day will be easier and more fun getting the unwanted tasks out of the way.
  21. Review: Type or write these questions and post them where you can read/review them daily:1) What will I do today to help the organization achieve our mission?2) What does the company most need me to do?

    3) What is the most productive use of my time?

  22. Focus Time: Constant interruptions make it impossible to focus on tasks and get work done. Try a few techniques to minimize them. Set aside periods where you are not to be disturbed, posting a “focus time” sign on your office entryway, asking people not to interrupt you at that time. Likewise, set office hours when your office door is open and you’re available.



“It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste time.” – Henry Ford

Buy Rights to Reprint this Article

Do you want to use this article in your company newsletter or use it for a staff development meeting? You can purchase rights to print this article (one time use only in your newsletter or meeting hand-out) for only $20. Contact us to request use of this article...