By Lisa Kanarek
RISMEDIA, July 17, 2010-
As a business professional, you undoubtedly wear many hats-from that of juggler (of yours and others' projects) to firefighter, putting out the fires (crises) you face each day. Ideally you should be able to walk into your office each morning, cross everything off your to-do list and go home with a sense of accomplishment. In reality, that's not always possible. Your day is filled with tasks and interruptions that devour your time, talents and energy. There are several ways to make each minute count, starting with these tips.
1. Before you agree to handle a task from a client, make sure that you're the most qualified person to handle it. If a client wants to hire you for something outside of your field of knowledge, rather than jeopardize your reputation, recommend someone else who could handle the task better. Don't be surprised if several months later, the same client calls you again to utilize your expertise.
2. Throughout the day, ask yourself if what you are doing is the best use of your time. You may not be working on an activity you enjoy, yet if it is a top priority, continue doing it.
3. Don't assume; ask questions. When a client asks you to do something, don't do it automatically. Ask questions to ensure that you understand what your client wants and in what form. If you complete a task then realize that it wasn't what your client had in mind, you'll waste more time and energy redoing your work. Get a clear understanding of the request, then start to work on it.
4. Don't reinvent the wheel. If your client asks you to do something that you or someone else has done previously, let him or her know. Your client may have forgotten that the same project was completed the year before. There is no sense in replicating something that has been done already.
5. Get off the phone as soon as possible. When a caller keeps you on the phone longer than necessary, gently prompt him to end the call. You could tell them that you have another call, that you are on a tight deadline or, if they have requested something, tell them that you want to get started on it immediately.
6. Make your environment conducive to working. This covers two areas: your actual work space and the area surrounding it. If your office is disorganized, you will waste time throughout the day searching for files, replacing lost information and "running in place." Take the time to clear your desk of any distractions, from magazines to knick-knacks, that could be placed on your credenza or shelf near your desk. If you only use an item on your desk every few months, move it to a space that is not in the main flow of your office.
7. In retail they say, "Location, location, location." The same is true in a home office. A desk located in a high-traffic area is as welcome as a marching band in a library. If your desk is in the kitchen, you will soon notice a few of your office supplies missing. If possible, move to a new location that is away from the flow of traffic but not so far away that you feel isolated.
8. Stay focused on the activity at hand. When you're tired of working on something, move on to something else, but avoid jumping from project to project.
Home office expert Lisa Kanarek is the founder of HomeOfficeLife.com and the author of Organizing Your Home Office For Success (Blakely Press) and 101 Home Office Success Secrets (Career Press).