Those of us who have created our own businesses and who work from our beautifully appointed home offices can find some serious time wasting going on during the day if we don't reign in and control our time wasting activities.

And no, I'm not talking about getting the kids up and ready for school and then greeting them at the door when they get home. I am talking about the time you spend online and on the phone.

Here are some helpful tips to help you use your time more efficiently.

  1. Set times for your tasks. Believe it or not, a simple kitchen timer can be your best friend. Or the timer on your client management software, the timer on your iPhone or Blackberry. Choose your tool and use it! When you sit down to write a blog post, take a look at the clock, and make a mental decision to have the blog post written within a set time. Once you set that intention, you will find that more often than not, your project is wrapped up in record time and you are ready to move on to the next item on the list. If you don’t' have a convenient timer try this one. It's fun and you can choose the sound that play when your project is up.
  2. When you are working on a project, whether it is for yourself or a client, don't allow distractions.
    • Shut down the "Chatter". If you have your Instant Messenger, Skype, Google Chat, or Facebook chat open, set your status as "away", busy" or my personal favorite, "invisible".
    • Close down your email client. I have 3 monitors and one of them is dedicated to my email client. When I need to get serious about focusing on a project, I simply reach over and turn that particular monitor off. If you have scrolling messages, beeps or other ways means of knowing that you have new email messages, you might want to shut that off. You know there will be emails waiting for you at any given moment during the day. By scheduling blocks of time each day (2-3 times) to respond to email you can sit down and concentrate on that task to the exclusion of all others. When you allow emails to stop you in your tracks, your day, not to mention your concentration and focus, goes straight out the window.
    • I am assuming that you have Caller ID on your business phone. If you don't it is very important that you purchase a phone that has Caller ID as well as hold, speaker, and mute buttons. If the calls coming through can safely go to voice mail and be returned at your earliest convenience, let them go, but do be absolutely sure to return them that same day.
  3. These same suggestions apply for Facebook and Twitter. Set aside regular blocks of time each day to login, visit, respond to messages, network and post pertinent information that your followers will have some interest in seeing.
  4. Create a "to do" system that works for you. A daily action list will keep you on task and by holding yourself accountable to your task list you will find things are getting done and you will be feeling pretty darn good about it. Also consider making your task list for the next day at the end of your current work day so you don't have to backtrack and figure out what still needs to be completed. Do you find yourself wondering just what in the heck you got done yesterday and what is still lingering on the previous "to do" list? I know if I don't keep track of my progress, the next morning can be an exercise in sheer frustration while I try to juggle the new day and what was left of the previous day. Trust me, this is not how you want to begin your work day! Figure out what works best for you, be it your Microsoft Outlook Tasks list, a package of index cards, a white board that you can cross items off of or an online task manager like Remember the Milk.

Do you have some helpful tips or advice on how to avoid time wasters? I would love to hear them!

Author's Bio: 

Denise Griffitts is an online entrepreneur and is the Founder and CEO of Your Office On The Web, a website design and development company and Your Virtual Assistant, a multi-VA firm. She is a globally recognized Virtual Assistance Industry Expert who helps entrepreneurs build and grow their online business. She also teaches new virtual assistants how to become highly technically savvy in their chosen field.

To train with Denise Griffitts to become a highly competent and sought after Virtual Assistant please visit Virtual Assistance University  or Ask Denise