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Quit Working Pointlessly Hard and Just Get More Done A mindful approach to work and resistence to distractions results in getting a lot more done without making a big parade out of the work day.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Successful people don't work harder; they work smarter. As your competitors encroach on your market share, it's critical to approach your work in the most productive way possible.

Email, unexpected phone calls and impromptu meetings can quickly derail your day if you're not mindful of time management. Use the tips below to improve your productivity and focus on what's important.

If you apply these tactics, you'll be more likely to accomplish the same amount of work in half the time.

Take advantage of early morning focus.

Everyone is tempted to roll over in bed, grab their phone from the nightstand and check their email. While it may feel productive, it's the perfect example of putting the urgent ahead of the important.

You're mind is most rested and refreshed in the morning. You'll experience greater focus throughout the day if you tackle your toughest tasks first. If writing is a large part of your work, consider writing first thing in the morning. You'll likely find your writing will improve and you'll feel more focused throughout the day.

Related: The Power of Mornings: Why Successful Entrepreneurs Get up Early

Make a plan.

At the beginning of each week, make a list of every task you need to accomplish. Break large projects into smaller parts and enumerate each step. Then look at your calendar and block out space in your schedule for each task. Give yourself enough time and don't cram too much into one day.

Make appointments with yourself. Mark your designated time as "busy" to prevent colleagues from scheduling an unexpected meeting. If you don't finish a task, shift your schedule to make it a priority for the next day.

Related: Follow These 6 Rules to Accomplish More Each Day

Take breaks.

Quick breaks, taken frequently throughout the day, can improve your productivity. Limit each break to ten minutes. Walk to the other side of your office, stare out the window or go grab a cup of coffee. Even a quick stretch will get your blood flowing and give your mind a break. If you find yourself unable to regularly break away from your work, use a timer.

Related: Why You Should Never Eat Lunch at Your Desk

Make quick decisions.

Most of the decisions you make in the day-to-day operations of your business don't require careful deliberation. Unless something is critical to the long-term strategy of your company, don't linger. When faced with a choice, your gut reaction is usually correct. Be careful not to over think your options or second-guess yourself. Try to make those less important decisions in two minutes or less.

Related: Fight Overthinking, That Destroyer of Decision Making

Pick up the phone.

Email is a convenient and useful tool for business correspondence. When used appropriately, it allows for more efficient communication. However, when an email chain exceeds two or three messages, it's time for a phone call. A task as simple as setting up a meeting can take 20 minutes of your time as you read and respond to emails about both parties negotiating a time and place. Skip the back and forth game. Pick up the phone and get an answer in five minutes or less.

Related: Why a Phone Call Is Better Than an Email (Usually)

Delegate work to your team.

As the leader of your business, your time is more valuable than that of your employees. Talk to your managers and invest time to learn which of your team members are capable of taking on some of your duties. Don't hand over everything at once. Instead, slowly delegate small projects. As your team expands their knowledge, they'll be capable of greater responsibility within your business. Doing this will leave you time to focus on the future of your company.

Adopt single-tasking.

You've probably heard your peers brag about how much they multitask. Unfortunately, they're sabotaging their own productivity. When you focus on multiple tasks at a time, you do each task poorly. You may look busy, but your efficacy is sacrificed for appearance's sake. Single-tasking allows you to complete every task better and in a fraction of the time.

Related: 10 Strategies for Working Much Smarter

Related Book: No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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