With the phone ringing, the email inbox piling up, the junk mail pouring in through the door and your customers and employees constantly dropping in, it sometimes seems amazing that you can get anything done at all. But smart professionals divide their time into two pieces: first, key creative, technical and relationship management tasks, and second, routine busy work.

The first may require years of schooling and experience and a lifetime to master, but the second is simply process amplified by technology. We write faster because we have computers, we send messages faster because of email, we store and locate our paper records efficiently because we have a filing system. As Michael Gerber points out in his landmark small business book The  E-Myth, “Systems run the business, people run the systems.” If we maximize our productivity for the boring, yet essential parts of our operation, we find more time to reach out to customers, build relationships and do quality creative and technical work.

How do you change from an environment where systems, processes and tools work against you to one where they enable you to get more done with less stress? The unavoidable truth is that change is difficult and takes time. No one-size-fits-all software system will fix all or even most of your problems. No management consultant can turn you from slow to lean in a week of team-building retreats. Rethinking and rebuilding your methodologies requires more of what you are already short on: time. Changing process requires embracing the idea that we should spend part of every workday planning how to work smarter.

Whether you work for yourself, as an employee of a small business or a non-profit organization, you know the level of frustration and the quantity of time wasted on dealing with inefficiency. “There are a million ways to lose a work day,” state DeMarco and Lister , “but not even a single way to get one back.” If you are ready to reclaim lost time and work smarter, talk to a productivity expert and build a plan for change. It will take time, but you will out-produce your competition and find a new level of satisfaction and quality at work.

Robby Slaughter is the founder a principal with AccelaWork, a company that provides <a href="http://www.accelawork.com/business speakers and consultants.