A business leader has a lot of responsibilities. Setting and facilitating goals. Taking care of marketing and communication with clients. Managing the team. So, on and so forth. It all takes up time, meaning that time can be one of your most precious resources. Yet if you haven’t optimized your business day, you could be wasting a lot more of that time than you should be. If you constantly feel chased by deadlines and like your day ends with much less done than you would like, freeing up some time could be just what you need to do.
Every day should start with some idea of what you hope to accomplish. Set one major goal and how much progress you must make by the end of the work day. You have a-hundred-and-one things to do, but you’re not going to do all of them now. Create a to-do list but go further than that. Create a priority for every task on there. Eliminate the tasks that aren’t urgent and aren’t vital first. Those go on the not-to-do list. From there, create different priorities for each task and list them in order.
Structure the day
Once you have tasks prioritized, spend some time figuring out roughly how long it would take you to complete a task. Fill up the day with those tasks, including real breaks (not short slices of time to eat at the desk). Then go about structuring those tasks. For instance, if you have four jobs that require you to use Excel, batch them together. The mind tends to switch gear when moving from one task to another that uses a different set of tools. Batching tasks together reduces the amount of time your brain needs to switch from one gear to another. Consider the order of tasks that allows you to be at your most productive. If one of the items that you’re definitely doing on the to-do list is particularly big, then break it into smaller chunks that you fit amongst the rest of the day’s workload.
It’s tempting to get caught up by a request from someone to handle a certain process when you’re in the middle of a big project. However, you have to know when to say “I’ll do it later” or “no”. Multitasking has long been proven to not be the productivity boosting technique that it has been promoted as. It actually makes you less productive. You can’t truly focus on a task; you’re more likely to make mistakes and spend more time fixing them. When you multitask, instead of getting two things done well, you’re likely to get them done poorly or not done at all. When possible, take your time and finish one task before moving onto the other. Of course, you have to prepare for some high-priority interruptions, but when you take them relies on your own judgment.
Don’t do it all yourself
You’re the boss; you shouldn’t have to handle every little thing. Learning to delegate can be a huge time-saver. Just make sure you’re not delegating your core responsibilities or boring work that teaches your subordinates nothing. For admin work, you can use virtual assistant services like https://www.virtualheadquarters.com. Outsourcing allows you to get more work done without having to keep pushing the burden to your own staff members. Remember that they all have their own workloads to handle without you having to constantly make use of them. Delegate when it makes sense and outsource when it makes sense.
Take the tedium out of your work
There are some processes you might not be as comfortable with outsourcing. Unless you have the budget to hire a real accountant, then you don’t want an assistant taking care of your money, for instance. But there are a lot of tools that can fully or partly automate different parts of your responsibilities. For instance, https://www.expensify.com/ is a tool that allows you to easily integrate any expenses receipts into your accounting. There are tools that allow to structure and send invoices much quicker, take care of payroll and HR, and so on. You can also automate those little housekeeping chores like backing up your data to a Cloud server so you never have to worry about them again.
Don’t let communication encroach
One of the most dangerous time-wasters in business is your communications work. We’re not talking about team meetings or staff needing help. Rather, we’re thinking about the amount of time you spend poring through and replying to emails every day or checking on every single social media account. Your emails need to be checked and replies need to be made. But it’s important you don’t let them butt their way into your work. Set aside an hour in the morning, or two half-hours throughout the day to work through your emails. As for social media, management tools like https://hootsuite.com/ allow you to schedule, to post, and to check
several different accounts all from one screen.
Make meetings matter
They might only happen once a week, once a fortnight or even once a month, but team meetings can be a huge drain on the company when done wrong. Not just a waste of time, but a motivation sapper if they’re not conducted correctly. For one, if you’re apart, then you can include remote workers through online collaborative software. But more important is how you communicate and what you talk about during the meeting. Spend half-an-hour the day before the meeting, or the week before if it’s the first thing that happens after a weekend. Put together an agenda and send it to your team. If there are any items that are only pertinent to one or two people in the team, put it aside for a smaller conversation. Set a direction and ask if they have anything they want to talk about. This allows everyone to prepare talking points and think about the topic rather than being blindsided by conversations they have no meaningful response to.
The sooner you start taking time management seriously, the more time you can win back. You can pull back from the minutiae and start focusing on the big picture stuff, the stuff that will win you more profit at the end of the day.
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