How to find an extra hour in your day

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We waste a lot of time in the office. When billable hours are involved, this becomes a huge problem for profitability and efficiency. In the first of a two-part series, Bryce Sanders outlines time-saving steps to create an extra hour in your work day.

The 50-minute hour

In the US, a CPD credit requires 50 minutes of instruction. Psychiatrists say “Your hour is up” after 50 minutes. You already use time blocking. Instead of working for 60 minutes, then composing your notes and preparing for the next task, allocate 10 minutes of that hour to prep and summarising. You are still working for the client, however you are including their record keeping time in that hour.

Time Saved: Your day has at least three time-blocked hours. Including 10 minutes of prep time in each saves 30 minutes.

People are always late

You are meeting a client or colleague for lunch. They haven’t turned up yet. Ideally, they called to let you know they are running late. Instead of waiting by the elevator, stay at your desk. Keep a list of short tasks or projects available. Wading through emails is an obvious example. Required reading is another. If they arrive in five minutes or 15, you have made productive use of the time.

Time Saved:  You have at least two meetings or appointments daily that don’t start on time because of late arrivals. Assuming they are 10 minutes late, that’s a potential saving of 20 minutes.

Distractions always occur

You are a professional. Resist the urge to answer your own phone. The only time you can reach your doctor immediately is when he has news that must be delivered personally. When you have time blocked an hour for a project, have your assistant take messages or let calls go to voicemail. You can review messages and return calls at the end of the hour. You may not have wanted to talk with that person anyway.

Time Saved: During your three time-blocked hours, you might receive five calls. Only two need returning. Assuming calls are at least three minutes, those three calls you didn’t take saved nine minutes. Friends can be called after business hours.

Limit the time you spend on calls

Your phone probably displays the length of each call for client billing purposes. Not all calls are billable time. One strategy is to keep a three-minute egg timer on your desk. It requires turning over to keep the sand flowing. It’s a tangible reminder how much time this call has taken, very useful when friends start telling long stories. Another strategy is to buy a long phone cord or wireless headset. Walk around on calls that don’t require looking at spreadsheets. The physical activity will shorten the call.

Time Saved: The high energy comes through in your voice as you pace the room. During the day you have shaved a minute off 12 calls. The other person doesn’t feel rushed, they just realise you are in the middle of something important. That’s a potential time saving of 12 minutes.

The net result: the four simple steps above have the potential for saving 61 minutes per day.  Next week Bryce will look at the steps managers can take to create an extra hour every day. 


Do you have any time-saving tips that help you make the most of your day? Let us know below the line.

About Bryce Sanders

bryce sanders

Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, Pennsylvania.


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26th Jun 2017 13:58

Are you kidding me?

Where did you life this from "Accounting tips for the 1990's?"

Wake up Bryce this is 2017. I dont think you are going to sell many services sat in a time warp. Still gave me a chuckle over lunch!

Thanks (2)
to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
26th Jun 2017 14:02

"Another strategy is to buy a long phone cord..."

Yep, definitely the 90's.

Thanks (0)
to Kent accountant
26th Jun 2017 15:59

Kent - First of all, thanks for writing. Long phone cords are definitely an old idea. Corded phones still make sense because you can tell when the other person is listening on the phone vs. a wireless headset when you can't. Yes, it's very 1990's. Hope you found an idea or two you did like! - Bryce

Thanks (1)
to ireallyshouldknowthisbut
26th Jun 2017 15:56

Thanks for replying to my article. Yes, phone cords are 1990's. However, I don't think most accountants really wear wireless headsets. It then it looks too much like a call center. There's a reason the long cord worked then and now. First, walking changes your voice. The person on the other end of the phone senses you are busy. Second, someone sticking their head into your office realizes you are on the phone.

on a serious note, I hope one of the other ideas in the group sounded like one you might try.

Thanks (1)
By Briar
27th Jun 2017 15:49

You have just wasted 5 minutes of my time!

Thanks (1)
to Briar
27th Jun 2017 16:01

Thanks for taking the time to write about my article. Wasting 5 minutes of your time is not a good outcome for an article on Time Management. There are no new ideas in time management, however many people forget the old ones. They endure because they work. Hopefully you found one idea is the grouping that works for you. Personally, my problem is people being late, but you don't know how late they are going to be. Fitting in small projects that can be picked up and dropped works for me. Hopefully you found one. - Bryce

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28th Jun 2017 14:07

The best way by far to avoid wasting time is to, as far as possible, avoid business meetings. I recall this was the view of Felix Dennis and also George Harrison, made famous in the Wings song Band on the Run in the lines "If I ever get out of here...If I ever get out of here (If we ever get out of here)", being in reference to the Beatles' interminable business meetings.

Thanks (0)
to Justin Bryant
28th Jun 2017 14:05

Justin - Thanks for writing. You are SO RIGHT!! Office meetings often waste time, yet the real work still needs to get done.

Thanks (0)

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