Debbie Williams

Article Summary:

What time management tools can you use to simplify your life and make you productive?

Time Management Tools

As my business expands and my daily task list grows, I'm reminded to slow down and focus on friends and family - what matters most in my life. But my to do list reads like a novel, I'm pressed for time, and can't seem to get all my errands done. When oh when will I be able to squeeze in the time for business research, self improvement, and shopping?

Why not try using automated tools to simplify your life this month? Beginning with simple online research, then expanding to virtual assistants and personal shoppers, keep notes and news at your fingertips and eliminate those time wasters in your personal and business life. 

Online newsgroups and discussion lists are great for ongoing research in your area of interest.
Whether you are conducting research for your first novel, gathering statistics for a business report, or looking for a support group, use cyberfriends to gain access to valuable information. Quite often information at your local library is not up to date, and you don't have much time for perusing the bookstores these days. Why not let the information come to you via email and your favorite websites? Subscribe to newsgroups, and interact at your own level of comfort. Bookmark your favorite website discussion groups, and don't forget to write down your login name and password information. 

Another way to have current information is to subscribe to ezines or informative email announcements.
I realize many of you run from the thought of another incoming email, but this isn't junk mail-- it's a timesaving tool you'll learn to look forward to receiving. Whether you are looking for useful websites to recommend for your newsletter readers, content for your ezines, or books to add to your personal library, ezines are a great way to streamline your surfing experience. Writers, webmasters, and parents all enjoy "best of the best" ezines and websites such as Briefme, Suite101, About.com, and so forth. Let someone else do the work for you, and skim over their results. It's like having a personal assistant on the payroll working for free!

Speaking of personal assistants, when your small business expands beyond a one-man or one-woman office, but you're not quite ready to hire a staff, consider using an intern or virtual assistant. It's amazing how much talent is available among college students, and they need the experience as much as you need their expertise. Their views are fresh, energetic, and creative. Looking for someone to update your database or gather demographics for your home business? Recruit a college student studying marketing or business. Need a simple yet affordable website for your company? Hire a college or high school student. Technology is everywhere, and kids are learning how to use software and the internet at a rapid rate. Let them show you their stuff, and give them a glimpse of the business world while you're at it. You'll both benefit, and their next employer will thank you.

No room for a real live person working by your side?
Utilize a virtual assistant to help you maintain your bookkeeping system, process your taxes, or manage your payroll. Virtual assistants (or VA's) are pros at business management, working with clients all over the world. They have access to the best systems and expertise to save you time and money. Be sure to check with your accountant to find out how to handle the tax and bookkeeping information. 

Personal shoppers and errand companies are a wonderful time-saving tool in your busy life.
Whether you're the CEO of a Fortune 500 company and need 50 executive gifts for the Christmas party, or a physician planning a company gathering, you can benefit from the services of these pros. Ask your friends for referrals, or use personal shoppers from your favorite department store. They are experienced in selecting and delivering the perfect gift for everyone on your wish list, and will ensure your party is a success. On a smaller scale, professional organizers specializing in running errands and event planning can help you coordinate special events or routine errands that need to be performed on a regular basis. Dry cleaning, ordering flowers, picking up a cake, delivering a balloon bouquet to a special client -- all these tasks are part of the personal organizer's day. 

And last but not least on your automation list are checklists and forms.
Whatever would we do without spreadsheets and laminated lists to keep us on track in our business and personal life? Grocery lists, menu planning, personal library inventory, items loaned to friends-- all these transactions can be recorded on a list or form, to be filed away for easy retrieval. If you carry a handheld organizer, electronic PDA or notebook, create a section in your planner for these lists. Make a template and customize it for all your needs such as groceries, office supplies, wholesale club list, packing list for travel, and so forth. If you prefer, file your list near the source to make sure it's available when and where you need it: grocery list posted on the fridge, office supply inventory in the storeroom, packing list in your hang-up bag. There's no need to start from scratch each and every time you travel to the store across town or to see a new client across country. Streamline the organizing process saves time and energy for you and your staff.

In summary, use all the wonderful tools that are available today to simplify your life. Make lists, record notes to yourself, bookmark your favorite websites, subscribe to email announcement lists for recommended reading from your favorite online bookstore. All these are wonderful timesavers just waiting to be used. I'm sure you can think of at least a dozen more, and encourage you to use your favorites as well. I can't give you more hours in your busy day, but I can help you find some time that you once thought was lost. It's up to you now, to spend your newfound time wisely and not all in one place.

Debbie Williams is an author, speaker and organizing strategist who offers tools and training to help you put your life in order. Learn more at from her website at Organized Times.

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