Here is a project I would recommend. Take one week and make very detailed notes of what you do each day. I would suggest at the minimum keep an hourly log and preferably more detailed. I know this sounds daunting but you will find it worthwhile in the end. After doing so for a week, sit back and review your listings. Amazing isn't it. My theory is that you will find that much of your hours are spent on things that are not the best use of your time. Don't feel alone in this as many of us do the same thing (myself included). However, all is not lost and certainly being a slave to our tasks is not the end goal. So take a deep breath and read on.
The first step is the most complex. Looking through your list what are the things that are most important to you during the week. Someone once told me that the most important things in our week is not where we spend the most quantity, but where we spend the most quality. Just because email is the most time spent, doesn't mean it is the most important. Maybe its spending time with your kids or friends. Maybe its taking time to reflect and think of new ways to innovate your business. It is up to you what falls in this category, but these are your uncompromisables. These are the absolutes that you want to ensure happen. Now get your calendar out or use your web calendar, and plug in times throughout the week where you want to focus on these. Ensure the times coincide for when you can actually do them. As well, these do not need to large amounts of time, just what you believe will be the proper commitment.
Now go back and look at the other items on your list. Let's chip away at the biggest time drainer of them all. For me it is email. My inbox fills up so fast that I almost feel obligated to check it often to ensure I am returning emails to everyone and getting back to them in a timely manner. However, what I consider to be a timely manner and what others do is different. Most business experts will tell you that emails should be returned in a 24 to 48 hour period. This is what they consider timely. If that is the case, then realistically you should only have to return email once a day. Not as bad as keeping the inbox open all the time to reply within minutes. So next is mark on your calendar when you will be returning email. For me it is first thing in the morning. I return all my emails, then shut it down for the day. Now I will admit I do have urgent emails go to my phone but beyond that I am done. Once you have completed your daily check, shut it down and force yourself not to reopen it. If you feel compelled to open something else like your Facebook page. At least there you are talking with friends and family rather than business.
Phone calls are another time killer. Throughout the day, I find my phone rings at all hours. Since I deal internationally, I will often get calls at night and in the early morning hours. I set up a virtual number to use for all my work related items. You can do this for free through Google Voice or any number of services. It's a very simple process and you can often have one within minutes. All calls (except the chosen few you decide) get this number to reach you. You then set it up for the times you are taking phone calls. An even simpler means is to have all calls roll to voice mail. You simply put on your message when you will be returning phone calls and when they can expect to hear from you. I would suggest checking this no more than twice a day and only during the week. Now mark the times you will be doing so in your calendar.
Finally, begin to review the other tasks that you are doing. What can be automated? What can be taken off your plate so to speak. You would be surprised how many software packages are available (and for free) to help with such. Do a search and see what you can find. As well, feel free to post a question here or email me. I am almost positive something can be found.
Now what you should find is that your time has significantly been freed up. It is very relieving isn't it? I would now set up a task list. I use the one in my Google Calendar but whatever works best for you is great. Make notes of the things that you need to get accomplished each week. Prioritize them so that you are not finding you are trying to fit them all into one day. Set dates to get them accomplished and follow it. You will find this will minimize the amount of time you are spending chasing from one project to another.
So now you should find you have much more time focused to what you want to do. How do you fill the void? I know that sounds like a strange question considering what we've just talked about, but it will be a question that will come to mind. I would suggest taking at least a month before trying to answer this question. First, you want to get into a routine with your new schedule. Second you want to make sure that what you add to your week is really what you feel you need to do. Someone once told me that time is our true currency. We trade time for money, we trade time for relationships, and we trade it for the various things in our life. It is the one currency that doesn't lose value or depreciates. As well, we only have a limited amount of it. There is no adding more and we can only have less. How are you spending your currency? How are you spending the most precious commodity you have? Perhaps change is necessary to ensure you are investing it well.