When it comes to productivity, we all face the same challenge—there are only 24 hours in a day. Since even the best ideas are worthless until they’re executed, how efficiently you use your time is as important as anything else in business.

1. Never touch things twice

Never touch things twice. That’s it. Never put anything in a holding pattern, because touching things twice is a huge time-waster. Don’t save an email or a phone call to deal with later. As soon as something gets your attention you should act on it, delegate it, or delete it.

2. Eat frogs

To pull this off you’re going to have to eat some frogs. “Eating a frog” is doing the least appetizing, most dreaded item on your to-do list. If you let your frogs sit, you waste your day dreading them. If you eat them right away, then you’re freed up to tackle the stuff that excites and inspires you.

3. Fight the tyranny of the urgent

You’ll also need to master the tyranny of the urgent. The tyranny of the urgent refers to the tendency of little things that have to be done right now to get in the way of what really matters. This creates a huge problem as urgent actions often have little impact. The key here is to delete or delegate.

4. Say no

No is a powerful word that you’re going to have to wield. When it’s time to say no, avoid phrases such as I don’t think I can or I’m not certain. Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully and efficiently fulfill them.

5. Check email on a schedule

If you aren’t going to touch things twice, you can’t allow e-mail to be a constant interruption. You should check e-mail on a schedule, taking advantage of features that prioritize messages by sender.

6. Avoid multitasking

To make my system work, you’re also going to have to avoid multitasking. It’s a real productivity killer. Research conducted at Stanford University confirms that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.

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