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Business Efficiency: Three Quick Tips for Time Management

Time is often your most precious resource, because lost time can never be restored and the amount of time any given person is available — no matter how much caffeine she may consume — is quite finite. The following ideas can help shave hours off not only your own work day, but also the days of all employees, leaving more time free for more important, more meaningful work:

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Mastering keyboard shortcuts for the computer programs and websites you use often can save minutes on every single computing task you perform. (It also reduces your risk of repetitive-motion injuries by reducing mouse/trackpad use.) For example, I can open, label, and archive an e-mail in Gmail by hitting just four keys in succession.

    You can also use keyboard shortcuts to insert standard blocks of text, ranging from an e-mail signature to a sales pitch, or even to launch particular Web pages or software programs. Check out ActiveWords for Windows or TextExpander for Mac for more.

  • Macros: If you ever use Microsoft Office for repeat tasks, such as mass find/replace in a supplier spreadsheet or performing certain calculations, you can usually write a macro to record the process once and then apply it to the entire document. This saves time and boredom (because the most boring tasks are often best suited for a macro). Macros can even be used to guide end users through filling out a form in a particular manner.

  • Scheduling apps: Trading five e-mails back and forth to decide on a meeting time is a pet peeve of mine. It is a huge time suck. You can skirt around this dance entirely by using a scheduling service like TimeBridge or, for a group, Doodle to show others when you’re available and let them book appointments directly.

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