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Time management – Making work work for you Posted on October 9, 2018
Wasted time is money most small business owners cannot afford.
It’s easy to find yourself in responsive mode and overwhelmed by an escalating ‘to-do’ list (that is, if you’ve even had time to write one).
When deep breaths aren’t cutting it, time management strategies are worth trying for the sake of your business and personal wellbeing.
Don’t be so available
Constantly checking and replying to emails is a common way people find themselves short for time.
You should create time in your diary twice a day to check your emails and categorise them for action.
Focus on your needs, not people’s wants
Have you ever opened an email that is marked as urgent, only to find another tedious task to be actioned? What others see as critically important may not need your full attention – e.g. signing off on the staff Christmas party venue is minor when compared to signing off on an overdue Business Activity Statement.
Prioritise your tasks based on the end result
When people lose sight of their main goals, they procrastinate with less important tasks like researching coffee machines for the staff room or tweaking their website.
Small business owners often try to be everything and do everything, which is a false economy that can lead to burnout or financial devastation.
Too many business owners run around chasing their tails. By the end of the day they are generally exhausted and think that they are doing all that they can, but in reality are just doing busy work.
Try focusing on cash flow and any activities that keep the cash moving. You could give each task a dollar value per hour and regularly ask yourself: “What is the most valuable use of my time right now?”
Hire one-off help
The reality of starting a small business is that you probably can’t afford to employ many staff. But you have to be realistic with what you can achieve on your own.
Using services on an ad hoc basis is a great way to bring in specialists to help you in your business on a temporary or project basis.
You should not try to run your business on your own – to try and do so is a quick way to breakdown and experience financial struggle.
Employees should be seen as an investment. The question is, what is the return and how quickly can you get it?
Using contractors rather than full time employees is a great way to get the people you need without the risk or commitment.
Hire a temporary administration assistant to create a fool-proof filing system or get an accountant to help set up your MYOB, online superannuation and tax checklist.
Failure to plan ahead often leads to tasks being left until the last minute or not getting done.
You should write a daily ‘to-do’ list and plan the week ahead.
Also determine your goals for the year then break this down into activities you need to do each quarter, each month, and each week – these are your ‘must-do’ activities and have highest priority.
Have a temporary closed-door policy
It is said that productivity will rise steeply when people have dedicated quiet time.
Ways you can achieve a block of time is to use an answering service, let your staff know you will not be available for an hour and shut your office door, or leave the office and work in the park or at home.
The right tools
Working from home is counterproductive if you have no privacy, poor phone reception and a slow internet service.
You could try using a dedicated phone line for business or use a 1300 number that you can divert to any phone or answering service. A dedicated, de-cluttered workspace is conductive to productivity.
Try investing in a people-manned answering service to field your calls when you need to concentrate or attend meetings.
By having an answering service, it promotes your business as a professional, callers get to speak to a real person and you get blocks of time to spend on your high priority items, which in turn brings in more business.