Have you ever reached the end of a day, month or year, and set back and asked where all the time went? I'm guessing you started out with a definite "to-do" list and despite the fact you were busy and productive all day, your list was essentially the same size at day's end. You spent your time, you just didn't spend it on accomplishing your projects.

Life has many distractions. While some are unavoidable, a good number can be reduced. Experts say that identifying the most frequent sources of distractions in your day is the start of lowering their impact on your daily life.

Here's a list you might find helpful in focusing your attention and accomplishing your resolutions in 2008.

  1. Do the important things first.
  2. Don't start a job without a plan on how to accomplish it. Planning pays.
  3. Don't move to another job before completing the last one.
  4. Embrace delegation.
  5. Delegate things to technology. Doing things the way they've always been done is almost a religion to most folks. And while we've all heard it preached to avoid steel, avoid expenses, etc., time is our most precious commodity and using it properly is by far the number-one way to both reduce costs and increase revenue. If you're getting the return on management that you should be, then things that save you time usually make you money, lots of it!
  6. Avoid things that aren't part of your job. Delegate and focus.
  7. Collect the necessary records in a usable form. Having records that overlap or are too complicated to use is inefficient to a waste of time.
  8. There is a limit to what you can do well. Tom Peters talks about outsourcing everything that is non-essential or that you aren't good enough at.
  9. Don't allow interruptions during critical projects. Even better is building barriers to interruptions. Do you always answer the phone, immediately respond to all e-mail, or set aside everything every time someone drives into your yard?
  10. Don't allow conversations to wander. This is a tricky one, because people and relationships are an essential part of anyone's success, but it must be monitored.
  11. You don't need all the information. The main facts are usually the key. While the more trivial info can be useful, the time chasing it down usually can't be justified.
  12. Stay cool. Getting worked up by distractions to the point that you're stressed and fixated on the problems rather than the solutions is counterproductive.
Everyone probably can pinpoint another 3-5 items that hinder their effective time utilization. The key is to identify and address them. Good luck in achieving your 2008 goals.