Strategies to Save You Time
In my conversations with business owners, I often ask “What are the main issues or pain points that keep you up at night? What are the things in your business that give you heartburn?”
Every time they respond their answers fall neatly into one of three categories: TIME, TEAM, or MONEY.
TIME; most business owners either don’t have enough time to complete everything they need to do in a day or they feel like they work 18 hours a day without accomplishing much. Some feel they have too much on their plate that they never seem to get around to the important things.
TEAM; many businesses struggle to find the right candidates or enough candidates with the education and skills necessary to fill their needs. Some struggle to build loyalty or know how to develop leaders to grow and run the business.
MONEY; this is the purpose of going into business after all and many businesses struggle with cash flow, budget gaps, or understanding the numbers that lead to their Net Profit and how slight improvements can double or even triple their bottom line.
In this report, I want to look at some of the strategies businesses can implement to improve their use of time.
Are you ready to make your business work for you?
Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time.
Arnold H. Glasow
Isn’t it strange that we all have the same 24 hours in our day and yet there are those who seem to do so many things, accomplish so many feats, and the rest of us struggle to scratch off one or two “action items.”
I’m sure you’ve felt that way at some point in your career; you work 16-18 hours a day or more, stumble home exhausted, and can’t for the life of you think of the most important thing you’ve accomplished that day.
You’re not alone.
The problem is that most of us don’t prioritize our daily tasks or don’t even plan our day; we simply plod along and fall victim to the “tyranny of the urgent” like phone calls, email, meetings, and other time-wasters like social media and office politics.
As a busy entrepreneur or business professional, your time is valuable. Every hour you spend on things other than the high-potential tasks (very important and very urgent) then you’re wasting a precious commodity. The goal is to identify those high impact tasks and get them done FIRST.
In his book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” Steven Covey devoted an entire section to time management. He developed a quadrant system to identify which tasks are most important and require your undivided attention and those that are not important, not urgent, and therefore should not be part of your default calendar.
According to this grading system, things that are IMPORTANT and URGENT fall into Quadrant 1. These are the items that must be done immediately. Injuries, firefighting (literally and figuratively), patching the relationship with a key customer or constituent; those things must be done quickly. Things that are IMPORTANT but not necessarily URGENT fall into Quadrant 2. These are the things that are on your To Do list but they have reasonable due dates and will get done on-time.
Quadrant 3 is for those things that are not IMPORTANT but seem URGENT like some phone calls, some meetings, some reports, and some conversations. This is usually where people get stuck; they know it’s not that important but when the phone rings or the email chimes they stop what they’re doing and dive in head first.
Quadrant 4 holds all of the unimportant and non-urgent tasks: social media, some email, some phone calls, and the personal “fun” things that we enjoy doing like lunch with a friend, watching a cute video, or gossiping about a co-worker. These tasks should NEVER be scheduled; they are time wasters and should be avoided at all costs.
Here’s what I usually recommend to my coaching clients:
- List every task that you do during a normal day; do this for a week
- Indicate how much time you devoted to that tasks at the time you were involved. Not necessarily exact minutes but rounded off to the nearest quarter hour.
- At the end of the week, go through and rank those tasks according to the 4 quadrants described above.
- Determine how much of your time was in Quadrant’s 3 and 4 instead of Quadrants 1 and 2.
This exercise is eye-opening as it points out specifically where your time is going. Those tasks that are in Quadrant 4 should be eliminated completely from your weekly schedule. Tasks in Quadrant 3 should be delegated to one of your direct reports.
Tasks in Quadrant 2 should be ranked per a simple Task/Risk analysis to determine which items are Routine, Simple, and Non-critical to the business. Those items should be delegated to someone else. Items that are not routine, are complex, and are critical to the business can still be delegated but they need to be documented in such a way as to provide step-by-step guidance on how the task should be completed, by whom, and on what schedule.
All the items in Quadrant 1 should be completed immediately. You can do a Task/Risk analysis on them, too, and delegate those things to someone with the knowledge and skills to complete them, but chances are you, as the leader, will have to complete those tasks.
By eliminating all of the unimportant and non-urgent tasks from your plate, you can easily make room for the “big rocks” that need to be completed.
There are other time-saving strategies that you might want to consider:
- Time Management Plan that includes setting up a Default Calendar
- Delegation Plan as mentioned here
- Apprenticeship Plan so that you can train the right person to take on the responsibility for the delegated task
If you’d like to learn more about these and other “Silver Bullet Strategies” that you can use right now to improve your business, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click HERE to schedule a 60-minute Complimentary Coaching Session. This is a no-cost, no-obligation coaching session focused 100% on your business.