If you’re a business owner, you will know that age-old phrase ‘time is money’ is actually true! Be honest, do you know how much time you’re wasting every week which could be spent on growing your business and making money? Probably not, because you’ve never really looked into it. I’d bet it’s a hell of a lot more than you thought…!
Being the helpful soul that I am, I thought I’d put together a list of ways to save time. I know these work, because I have used them in previous jobs or I’m using them right now. Even if you just use one of these, I’m convinced you’ll see immediate benefits.
1. Make a list – spend about 5-10 minutes at the beginning of each day listing what you need to do. Either hand write it, type it up on your computer, email it to yourself, make a spreadsheet, whatever works for you. Then prioritise it – either colour code it, number it, put asterisks next to the important things, again whatever works for you – you can even write it on post-it notes and throw them in the bin once they’re done – colour code them to your clients… Tick off things you’ve completed (or if you’re like me, add things you’ve already completed, just so you can tick them off…) You know what needs to be done today and what can wait until tomorrow, Friday or next week.
2. Before you get stuck into the large tasks of the day, get rid of a few quick and easy wins. That way you’ll not spend the day worrying that you’ve not made that doctor’s appointment, emailed the school about the school sports day, rung your mother about her arthritis…. Once you’ve done the small stuff, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something and will make you feel more like tackling the large stuff.
3. If you are running to a tight deadline and your work environment is causing distractions, leave completely and find somewhere else to work i.e. a coffee shop, hotel lobby, internet café, specially designed office space. It takes, on average, 8 minutes to get back into your headspace to work after someone or something has distracted you.
4. When things get really pressurised and you’re tight for time, switch off email, Facebook notifications, any other app notifications and phone completely. It’s incredible how much time we can spend browsing Facebook because someone liked or commented on our posts. Because once you’re in, you’re then scrolling through, watching videos of cats, or people doing funny things and before you know it, an hour has passed. Let’s face it, we all love to think someone is giving our posts attention, and it’s SO hard to ignore these things, we’re only human after all! But if your notifications aren’t coming up on your phone or laptop, bingo! Distractions removed. And let’s face it, it’s nice to log in now and again and get lots of notifications, rather than a drip feed of the odd one or two, isn’t it?
5. If you’re procrastinating, rather than getting frustrated or annoyed, simply ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Are you scared of the task ahead? Is it too difficult, too easy, or boring? Or do you just love to talk about how busy you are, without getting on with the job?
6. Take short breaks when you need them during the day to recharge and refocus. Research shows that workers who take regular breaks at work are healthier, happier and more focused. Doing something you enjoy during your break will give you that sensory boost you need to get down to it once you’re back at your desk. In the same way, never underestimate the value of taking an actual holiday if you can. I’m not going to suggest you leave it all behind, as small business owners we know we can’t ever do that. Take your phone with you and leave it in the hotel room. Check it twice a day, say once at lunchtime and once again in the evening and for no longer than an hour at a time. That way you’ll get to spend quality holiday time with your family, but also keep on top of your emails. You’ll also not have the nightmare of a huge inbox to return to which will make you wish you’d never gone away.
7. Only ever touch a piece of paper once. In other words, don’t pick it up, read it, get distracted halfway through, put it down, pick it up again (you get my drift). Pick it up, read it, deal with it and put it down or file it (or bin it). It’s done, time to move on to something else.
8. End your working day at a fixed time. Don’t let work creep into your entire evening. You can also have two finishing times. One for an ideal day, and one latest time that you won’t work past. If you do have to work late, make that the exception rather than the rule.
9. If you’re using social media for business, schedule some of your updates. You don’t have to be there all the time. Hootsuite is an excellent tool which will schedule your social media updates for you, and will post to Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in without you having to do anything other than schedule it. You can also use it to send out mailings so they land in inboxes overnight rather than you spending time doing it during the day. You can also use it to post while you’re having that holiday I was talking about…
10. If you’re doing a task where you’re likely to get distracted and spend longer than you want to on it (for example, on social media, email, or internet searching), try using Toggl which is a free time-management app. Once you’ve created an account, you then create ‘projects’ which you can time. You just need to remember to switch it on at the beginning and off when you’ve finished, or are taking a break. Keep an eye on it while you work to keep you focused on the task and to ensure you’re not spending too long on each one. You can also use Toggl to download a report of time spent on a project (if you invoice by the hour) to send to your clients with their invoices so they can see the breakdown of time spent. Alternatively, use Toggl to monitor the time you’re spending working on tasks that don’t earn you any money, like writing that blog, doing your expenses, writing a presentation… Add them all up at the end of the week. You might be surprised at how much time you’re spending doing tasks that aren’t making money or growing your client base.
If, at the end of that week, you’re horrified by the amount of time you’re spending on doing your administration, you might consider outsourcing to a professional. Someone who can do your admin and release that valuable time for you to get on with what needs to be done for your business. Call me on 07701 351686 for a free 1-hour consultation to see how I can help.