10 practical tips for saving time at work

Whether contemplating the duration of patient visits or evaluating the intervals when you're running the business aspects of your practice, time is your most precious commodity. And like professionals in other industries, the challenge for physicians and office managers remains how to get more work done in a shorter amount of time.

Adam Gurian, president of Timex, one of the largest watch-makers in the world, knows that business owners and employees want to increase productivity and make the best use of their time on the job. In recognition of that pursuit, Gurian shared the following list, his "Top 10 Ways to Save Time at Work."

1. Act immediately on phone messages and emails 
If you can accomplish a task in just a few minutes, do it.  It is one less thing on your to-do list and you will have an immediate sense of accomplishment. If you let too many small activities pile up, you will be “playing catch-up" the rest of the day.

2. Get a head start on tomorrow before you leave the office today 
The simple task of writing a to-do list is one of the most efficient ways of keeping track of your daily work requirements. By writing out a list for tomorrow before you leave the office at night, you will have an immediate head start on your next day and be ready for your new priorities.

3. Don't sit at your desk all day 
It is important to get up, walk around the office and take a few minutes for a “mental break.”  These short breaks will reinvigorate you and help you be more productive in the long term.

4. Organize your tasks
By arranging your workday so that you tackle your most important priorities together, you will save time, be more efficient and ultimately produce higher quality work.  In addition, by starting your day with the most important task, you will increase your productivity and get your day off to a good start.

5. Stand up for your phone calls 
The simple act of standing during a phone call will actually help shorten the call, thus saving you time.  If you are standing, you are less likely to get involved in idle chatting and you will get to the point of the conversation faster.

6. Stick to a schedule
If a meeting is scheduled for an hour, do everything possible to keep it to an hour. Once meetings start running long, it directly impacts the rest of your schedule for the day, while also impacting your co-workers.  A series of meetings that run long will have a snowball effect throughout the day.  Also, if you are not required to be at a meeting and you have a more pressing deadline, do not feel guilty about missing the meeting.

7. Learn to say no
While everyone wants to be a good team player at work, saying no is sometimes the right thing to do.  If you are not the best person for an activity, or if you have other pending deadlines, it is OK to turn down a project.  However, it is always beneficial to have an alternate solution or suggestion, so that your co-workers have a clear vision of what they will need to do to help move their projects forward.

8. Don’t let email take over your day  
We are all so accustomed to email that as soon as we see a new email in our inbox we instinctively click it on, respond and focus on the content of the email. These seemingly tiny activities during the day can quickly add up to large amounts of time that not only cause your day to slip away, but also distract you from completing your current task.  If you are focused on a project, tell yourself that you will not check your email for a set amount of time, so that you get through your activity. This will not only save time in the long run, but provide a better result for your current work.

9. Don’t take advantage of Facebook in the office
Social media is a part of all of our daily lives. However, to save time you must have the discipline to not spend parts of your day seeing what your friends thought of the latest movie release or what they had for dinner last night.  Many companies are moving toward banning Facebook in the office, as it is becoming a drain on the workday. If your policy allows for Facebook visits during the day, be sure to use it as a “break” for just a few minutes; if it becomes a regular habit, it can easily take over your day and impact the work needed to get done.

10. Use technology 
Get up to speed on tools that you can use in the office to make you more productive and ultimately save time during the workday.  For example, use GoogleDocs to collaborate with colleagues on documents.  Use calendar-planning tools to sync up your schedules with colleagues.  Use Skype for video conferencing so that you can potentially reduce the need to travel for meetings.  Also, work with your IT team to see if they have suggestions on which new technologies can be used to save time. They can be a tremendous resource not only to you, but to the entire organization.