Time management skills. They’ve no doubt been mentioned in every interview of which you’ve ever been a part. Employers are always wanting to know how employees manage their time and multi-task. Why? Because this skill can make the difference between being highly effective and just mediocre. The reality is that improving time management skills throughout your company can improve your bottom line. Finding more time in the work day can essentially mean faster project turnaround and more completed projects, which means happier clients and more time to devote to finding potential clients. When team members can maximize their time in the office, the ripples can be felt in every aspect of your business. Here are a few tips for improving time management:

1. Use outside tools to monitor tasks.

Free software can be extremely helpful for taking stock of time management skills. Firstly, cataloging exactly how much time a project takes can keep you aware. Also keeping track of these things can allow you to optimize time spent. For example, if, when beginning a new project, you see that it took you 2 hours to complete, you can try to find efficiencies to cut down on that time. Perhaps much of it was research. Bookmarking information sites can cut down on the time you spend Googling next time. Also, if you lack Internet self-control, you can use tools to block your most time-wasting sites (like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube).

Tools we like:

2. Make a to-do list – and stick to it.

There is almost nothing that compares to the satisfaction of a completed to-do task list. Try creating one each morning upon arrival in order of priority. If a new task is presented to you during the day, add it to the list. Also listen to the old adage, “do not put off to tomorrow what you can get done today.” This can also help you get into a groove. If you know that each Wednesday morning you have to review a weekly report, then put that at the top of the list. Get it done first-thing in the morning so you’re not shuffling through slides and data at 3pm.

3. Only attend meetings with agendas.

Agenda-less meetings struggle to be productive. Encourage team members to send an itemized list of things to discuss in every meeting so that time can be used wisely. If you receive a meeting request without an agenda (or one with a meager one), try suggesting another form of internal communication or discussing the topic at lunch.

4. Block time on your calendar for focused tasks.

Blocking time on your calendar will not only help keep you on task, but will also signify to other employees that you are focused on a project. This can also preclude them from scheduling impromptu meetings or stopping by to chat.

5. Turn off the email notification sound.

If you are like me, then you receive 500 emails every day. During the work day, it can be extremely distracting to see them popping up and can even feel overwhelming. Try turning off the sound so that you do not lose focus every time it goes off. You can also encourage fellow teammates to utilize the priority flag if the email needs immediate attention. Otherwise, you can take a break each hour to check emails (if that is sufficient).

Utilizing these tips and passing them along to your team members can, over time, save you hours in the day (ie: money). If your team is able to use time more efficiently, you are open to take on more work, more clients and make your existing services richer.