Setting Priorities: How to Stop the Clock!

This is a guest post from Christopher Wallace, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small.

Tips for Managing Your Time to Make Your Business More Productive

Even though we all use digital calendars, having a Giant Desk pad to jot down important notes is still highly useful. Consider giving your clients Promotional Calendars featuring your business logo, URL and phone number. Great way to stay top of mind with your customers! ~ 2013 Calendars already 20% Off

You are a small business owner and you have many irons in the fire. If someone asks you to identify your most valuable asset, how hard do you have to think before coming up with an answer?

If you have to think hard, you are probably not thinking clearly.

For most small business owners,
the answer is as easy
as it is obvious—
your most valuable asset is your time.

No doubt you’ve often heard the old adage “Time is money.” And yet all too often small business owners are finding themselves with way too much to do and not nearly enough time to get it all done.

As a result, they often are forced to work extra-long hours, leading to stress, frustration, and usually less than enough productivity to show for it.

Maybe this is because many of them don’t really think about managing their time properly. Everyone knows that valuable things need to be carefully protected. You are very protective of your money and your other tangible valuables.

Be protective of your valuable time!

Time management tips to conserve your most valuable asset

1) Prioritize.

  • Start with the realization that you don’t have enough time to do everything you can think of, or everything you would like to do, or even everything you think you need to do. So you first need to identify the things that matter most.
  • When you make your “to do” list, assign a value rating to each item.

Base an item’s value on how much it influences
customer satisfaction and/or how much
revenue it will generate for your business.

  • Then re-work the list so that the high-value items get done first.
  • Don’t do the lower-valued items until the high-value ones are finished! Do this on a daily basis.

It is NOT wasting time to spend the first 30 minutes of
every day setting priorities and carefully planning your day.

2) Make a schedule and stick to it.

  • After you make your priority list, develop a schedule to get the tasks done. Assign a timetable and stick to it as closely as you possibly can. Realize that unexpected events will happen and some flexibility will be needed. But developing a routine is very important and there are smart ways to go about it.
  • Try to schedule important meetings on the same days of the week. This will let you get into a consistent pattern of being in the right frame of mind when they happen. And it will leave you more focused on the other days because you won’t be forced to lose your concentration or momentum by having to be diverted by meetings.
  • Do you know your peak times? For example, are you a “morning person”? If so, don’t schedule your most important tasks for afternoons.

Know the times when you are at your best and set your schedule
so that you do your most important work at those times.

3) Avoid multitasking.

  • Most small business owners try to do everything at once, thinking they will get done faster that way. But doing things fast doesn’t mean doing them well. Don’t fall into the “multitasking” trap!

Focus on tackling one thing at a time and when you do so,
give it your full, undivided, and yes, even intense attention.

  • Most importantly, give yourself breaks! After an intense 90-minute period of work, step away for a few minutes.

Give your brain a rest and re-charge your batteries so
that you can give that next task the full effort it deserves.

4) Never be afraid to delegate.

  • It’s only human nature for those of us in charge of running the show to also want to be personally involved in every facet of it. As a result, we often find ourselves wasting our time doing things that others can do just as well if not better.

Micromanagement is the worst time-killer of all
If you have employees, use them!

  • Train your employees or use their existing talents to manage the smaller things so that your time and energy can be focused on more important activities. 

If you don’t have enough of the right talent in-house,
don’t hesitate to outsource.

Running a small business is not easy. Business owners are busy owners. But being busy and making a business work are two different things.

Smart business owners are not afraid to take a good hard look
at their daily routines and ask themselves whether their hours
are being spent in the most productive way possible—
and if not, then do something about it.

Can you stop the clock? Maybe not completely, but if you manage your time smartly you can slow that clock down long enough to watch your business grow.

Christopher Wallace is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Amsterdam Printing, one of the nation’s largest providers of promotional products for businesses large and small. Amsterdam specializes in custom pens and other promotional items such as calendars, laptop bags and T-shirts. Christopher regularly contributes to Promo & Marketing Wall blog.

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Gail Gardner

Small Business Marketing Strategist at GrowMap
Creator and owner of, Gail is primarily known for mentoring small businesses and encouraging bloggers to join collaborations to share skills and support small business.


  1. Great Article. People will gained so much knowledge because of this! Thank You so much for sharing all these valuable Information.

  2. The all important task of managing your time is something I am continually trying to improve. You have given some great tips here that I will now start to apply much more enthusiastically.
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  3. Chuck Frankee says:

    Yes I agree with the points you made. One of the most important things is to have the ability to focus on an issue, until it is resolved. I presume this is what you mean by having to prioritize your schedule and follow through as well?
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  4. I like to work for awhile then take a short break, away from work, maybe grab something to eat, or have a coffee, then get back to it. makes my work more efficient.
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  5. Some solid tips… another suggestion would be breaking up tasks in half hours each with a 5 minute break. Something what the pomodoro technique does (go ahead Google it… its an interesting technique…)
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  6. Great tips and I agree about the caveat about multi-tasking. It’s a pure ADD fallacy. Anytime I try to multi-task, I end up not getting as much done as I could have by just focusing on one task. Even though I agree, I still find myself scattered sometimes and trying to accomplish many things at once. I think more than try to stay focused on one task of the many I have to do. I need to get rid of some of the other tasks so I won’t be tempted to tackle them.
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  7. It is amazing how a bit of success can help one manage time! In the first two years of my blog, I had only limited success. I was easily distractable, and not likely to do anything in social media or my blog from one week to the next.

    Now, with visitors coming and commenting, I try and steal time to work on social media or my blog. It is something I enjoy doing!

  8. One task at any given time will surely improve our productivity as well as quality of work too.
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  9. Delegating is probably the hardest task I’ve seen people have problems with. A lot of people seem to be afraid to let go and put others in charge. But I believe if you put faith in your employees or co-workers, they will go above and beyond!
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  10. Paramedic Training says:

    I agree. After starting to run my own small business. Time managing is essential. I have so many things to do and so little time. I really don’t know what I would do without my calendar being connected with my phone.

  11. Andrea Hypno

    Very good post. I use some of them but surely I can improve especially regarding blogging where I tend to follow inspiration 90 percent of time. At least I’m able to stick to my schedule of one post per week. :)

    But surely being able to prioritize is a must do.
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  12. Rick Castro says:

    What’s important when it comes to working is that we have a clear understanding of what’s needed to be finished! Setting priorities is indeed very much needed..Thanks for the tips

  13. I use these strategies at my day job, and they help me stay on top of my work. Making a prioritized list cannot be underestimated in terms of how much time it can save you. If you don’t make lists, you should start!

  14. Time management is one of my biggest problems. I find that even when i set a schedule can’t keep up with it because i get distracted and i tend to procrastinate alot. I’m willing to try anything at this point so i appreciate the advice.

  15. Those 30 minutes in the morning you spend planning can easily save you two hours during that day later on!
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  16. Time is valuable in large and small companies. It is bad enough when the time is not managed properly. We should give priority to more important matters.
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  17. Good points. I cut out multitasking a few months back and I’ve noticed that I get things done faster because I’m not taking the time to switch multiple times. I focus on one task and get it done before moving on to the next. All great points on prioritizing though, thanks.

  18. Great Stuff, Each and every point is good enough.

  19. Thanks for the tips! Time management is something I always struggle with, and I always enjoy reading some good, helpful tips like these on how to improve my time management skills. Thanks again!
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  20. Time management is must if you want to achieve with defined with your business.

  21. Get Free Templates says:

    Sometimes I have strong desire to break the clock, because sometimes I can’t find time to do all tasks I need
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  22. Robert Koenig says:

    A rarely mentioned aspect of time management is knowing how to maximize FREE TIME. In a busy schedule, a few minutes of reprieve can be game changing. If you can pounce on a chance to get ahead or prepare for a future task, you get that task done more effectively and efficiently, giving you more moments of free time, giving you more time to prepare and get ahead… and so the process goes building on itself. Free moments are few and far between, I know, but being able to identify one and using it to be as productive as possible, the ease on your schedule will reverberate for days and days.

    • I completely agree with you Robert. It is not often that I think about how I can maximize my free time. Sometimes it is just so tempting to sit around and play a video game, like Starcraft or read a book and doing more work than necessary just seems overwhelming. I am glad that you mentioned this though, because then I know that I am not the only one who procrastinates! 😀

  23. It is very important to set the priorities we have because we need to know what is the purpose why we are doing things…
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  24. Struggling to save time and increase personal productivity looks like an ongoing battle most of us have :) And in order to win, you need a whole set of “weapons”. According to my own experience, there’s just no silver bullet that can make you organized and efficient in a blink of an eye. You need to mix and match various techniques in time management. Each of them might be a small one, but when combined, they might be really helpful.

  25. From my opinion if we will involve in “”multi tasking”” then it would be prove better for us because at that time we will not depend completely on anybody else because it will also increase our work power.
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  26. Ejaz Alam says:

    Hi very nice post indeed about managing time . I agree to make a schedule but main problem with most of us is that we happily make schedules but ‘sticking’ to them gets us down. I expect a helping post on ‘How to stick to your schedule’ soon from you. Time is more precious than money of course. Thanks Christopher Wallace for the motivation.

  27. well I want to know why not to do multitasking ? As that can even complete our more than one work which is beneficial for us, Isn’t it ?
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  28. Time management is a key to success in all around field
    and as u mention “Time is money”.
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  29. I think you hit it right on the spot! Prioritizing, sticking to your schedule and avoiding multiple tasks at the same time are very good points. I’m saying this based on experience. A lot of people think that multi-tasking is the way to go but I disagree, you really can’t do a good job at anything if you’re not focused. Therefore knowing what’s important and scheduling them according to importance is helpful then stick to your plan! That’s it! It really works wonders.

    – Cristina
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  30. When we find ourselves already feeling overwhelmed with work, that’s a sign that we’re doing too much and accomplishing little. Sometimes, quality of work declines, too. So yes, if we can delegate smaller tasks to others, do!
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  31. Prioritizing is certainly the most important aspect of scheduling. Sometimes, I forsake mundane tasks till I get the important responsibilities out of the way first.

  32. Excellent article, I totally agree with everything written here. Also, one more important thing is called “schedule”. Having a schedule and following a schedule is always one great sollution for time-management problems, been there – tried this – solved that. Thanks for sharing!

  33. In my childhood my father teach me how to take your time in your hand…. actually this gonna happen only when you just set down your priorities order of work then it become easy to get hold on time space …..i completely agree with your post thanks

  34. Multi tasking always lead to stress, i experience it many times. Now i know
    how to manage my time. And these are some great tips.

  35. I have always tried to set a realistic schedule for myself, leaving sufficient time aside for breaks and chores. Prioritizing is certainly the most important aspect of scheduling. Sometimes, I forsake mundane tasks till I get the important responsibilities out of the way first. As for multitasking, I’m not too good at it but I do it when there is no other way.

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  36. Factor of multitasking vary from person to person and brain to brain, i think if someone can manage more than one task simultaneously, then it can be more productive. Anyways, well written article.
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  37. I recommend reading the “4 hour work week” by tim ferris. There’s a pretty good chapter on time management and how to work more efficiently etc.
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  38. Can’t agree with you more about the Multi-tasking (which I am doing right now… damn!).

    You feel more productive but that is just not the case. You’re not getting anything done. You’re treading water.

    I’m cutting multi-tasking out of my worklife TODAY!
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  39. private server says:

    Right on point! I have found multi tasking does at times make things less productive. It is a shame there are not more hours in a day to get everything done.
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