From the January 2001 issue of Startups

You may feel you're efficient, but if at the end of the day your to-do list is no shorter than it was at 8 a.m., it's time to evaluate how you're using your time.

Throughout the day, periodically stop what you're doing and ask yourself if what you're doing is the best use of your time. Ask yourself these few questions:

1. Is the task you're working on a top priority?
2. Is the task going to increase your business or income?
3. Does the task correspond with your goals?
4. Is it a task that someone else could handle, leaving you free to handle more important tasks?

If you answered no to any of the questions, switch to another task or delegate the task to someone else (even a freelancer).

What are some other ways you can make more efficient use of your time?

  • When scheduling appointments with clients, also make appointments with yourself to work on specific projects and keep those appointments.
  • Group similar tasks. For example, return all phone calls during the same block of time, write letters during another block of time, and focus on your e-mail inbox the same hour each day.
  • When compiling your to-do list, focus on your top priorities. However, if you have a task that's lower priority but will take only a few minutes to complete, get it out of the way quickly. Then move on to your higher priority tasks.

Lisa Kanarek is the author of several books, including 101 Home Office Success Secretsand Organizing Your Home Office For Success, and the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com. She admits to being an "office product junkie" and is always on the lookout for the latest, interesting home office product to be introduced.