Time is your most valuable resource. And as a business owner, there are constant demands on your time. Between managing employees, serving customers, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of your business, there is little time left for anything else. Unfortunately, things like marketing and strategic planning are often neglected… not to mention other priorities like time with your family and your friends.

Trust me, I understand!

To help you make the most of your time, here are six tips that can be applied immediately. Each of them has made a significant difference in my own productivity, and for many of my clients as well.

Stop multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is often considered a good thing. But taking the time to get a single job done right before moving on to the next item on your agenda is a more effective use of your time.

Start your day with the most important (and often most difficult) tasks. We all have them… intimidating tasks that stay on our to-do list forever because we don’t want to address them. This situation leads to procrastination and wasted time. Attack the toughest item on your list when you’re fresh at the beginning of the day. And then… it will be “all downhill from there!”

Delegate. Evaluate how you spend your time each day. Are you working on projects that could be performed by others? If so, delegate them and focus your time on issues that truly need your attention.

Don’t let email take over. Email is a constant distraction for many of us. Designate certain times each day to check your inbox- and keep it out of sight the rest of the day. This is a challenge for me and I’m sure it will be difficult for many of you, but it’s worth the effort!

Prioritize. Determine which projects are most important before you start working each day. Otherwise, it’s easy to get pulled off track and end up wasting an hour or two on a project that doesn’t matter at the moment.

Close your door. Many business owners believe in an open-door policy with employees—and so do I. But this doesn’t mean it always has to be open. Close your door when you are engaged in a demanding project, and inform your employees that you are only to be disturbed in an emergency. In fact, as I’ve told clients, in many cases an open-calendar policy is better than an open-door policy. Make yourself available to your employees, but don’t let yourself be distracted and interrupted all day long.

Peter Drucker once said, “Time is the scarcest resource of the manager; if it is not managed, nothing else can be managed.”

Are you managing your time effectively?