The most precious commodity in business, and life, is time but it seems as if we do more to waste this most valuable asset then to properly manage it. Ironically, the technology that has been developed to help us improve our time management efforts has become a major source of distraction. From cell phones to tablets to computers, trying to focus on the task at hand has become increasingly difficult in the modern world.

So how can you get your act together and manage your time more effectively when the proverbial shiny object lies in wait around every corner? Here are a few tips to help you avoid common time-wasting pitfalls.

  1.     Plan your day in advance

The best way to avoid modern day distractions is by being proactive. Before you begin your working day, plan it out. Complete your “must-do” list for the day, usually only 2-4 items.. Always start your day with your most important duties.

  1.     Schedule time to check email

Step away from the check-mail button and concentrate on more pressing matters. Take stock of your daily emails and determine how many truly need your immediate attention. Determine the least amount of times you need to check your email to effectively get through your day. The smaller the number the better.

  1.     Cute kitten videos can wait

Those videos of kittens frolicking in fields of daisies, playing with butterflies and doing all other types of cute feline things are captivating but they are also an enormous distraction. Stay away from social media canyons. That’s right, they aren’t just tiny pitfalls, they are huge crevices that will swallow your productivity whole. Make time for fun, but that time should not coincide with your workday.

  1.     Leave some room for emergencies

Avoid scheduling every second of your workday. Something is bound to come up and in many cases it will be a situation that needs your immediate attention. Give yourself a little wiggle room so you can handle surprises yet still get your work done. Keep in mind though this isn’t an invitation to Tweet to your friends or upload a cool pic to Instagram. This time should be blocked out to handle tasks that are in addition to your normal day-to-day activities.

  1.     Stick with your plan and it will become a habit

Like bad habits, good habits take time to form. If you schedule your day, reduce your email habit and remove unnecessary distractions eventually it all will become second nature.