February is National Time Management Month.

Time is something we could all use more of, but the best way to have more time is to find the places where we waste it.

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Any small business owner can make more time by being a little more organized and with some thoughtful scheduling.

1. Set aside time to make phone calls. I am not talking about returning a time sensitive new customer that left a message calling to set up an appointment, I mean calls pertaining to running your business, a call to your accountant, or personal calls like to schedule a doctors apt. Having a set time where you can be in a quite place, and have all the numbers already at hand will benefit you.

2. Read and answer e-mails only at set times during the day. Having to stop and look at messages every time your cell phone dings can be very disruptive to your work flow. On your PC, tablet and phone set up folders and make rules for certain emails so they will not all show up at the top of your message list. Having them go to specific folders can allow you to see at a glance what you may need to address right away and which can wait until your set aside time. If poissible have your phone use different tones to help know which messages you can let go by until later. Also having and using different e-mail address for different reasons can be beneficial. One email only for new customer estimates, one e-mail for personal business and friends, etc.

3. Make a list of critical issues or tasks you must handle the next day the night before. Then tackle the most critical or largest task first when you are the most refreshed and mentally sharp. Plus you get a sense of accomplishment when you can check these off your list

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Leave repetitive or mindless chores to do later, like checking to the mail box, restocking the truck.

4. Talking about restocking the truck, that should be one of the last things you do each day. This way you are not wasting valuable time in the morning when you should be already on the way to your first appointment. Making and using a check list is also a time saver so you do not have to try and remember each thing when you are the most tired and forgetful. Keeping a list of what you used throughout the day is also a time saver.

5. Try to make and take your own lunch and snacks instead of trying to stop at some place during the day. Trying to catch lunch when hundreds of others are doing the same can waste 15-30 minutes at a time, it is not a restful break and most times not as healthy. Also try to eat at off times from others. I know a contractor that gets up a 5:00 am each day so he eats his lunch between 10 and 10:30 and eats another larger snack between 1:30-2. Also do not skip breakfast. That should almost be your largest calorie meal of the day. To get your body fueled up for working.

For this first week in February grab a little notebook and keep a list of all your time and what you spent it doing. This will help you be able to make a plan to better manage your time. Once you have the plan keep up with the list to see if you are sticking to your plan or what adjustments you will need to make. Do this each week and by the end of the month you should have a solid plan in place. Good luck.

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