“How can I manage my time better?” is a question that crops up with alarming regularity. For entrepreneurs, this can have serious implications on their business. Luckily, there are steps they can take to prevent a productivity gap from opening.
Bryan Hunter, head of digital marketing at Instant Offices says, “It’s important to think ahead, and to plan day-to-day operations. In business, you are constantly overloaded with information and deliverables while managing people, so interruptions are inevitable… When you focus on completing what’s the most important, pre-planned task, it allows you to avoid interruptions or unnecessary distractions.”
Assess your time expenditure and measure productivity
Make a list of the tasks you do regularly, and those which consume most of your time. Assess how you could be undertaking them more efficiently.
If you’ve allocated an amount of time to a task, and it took you longer than expected, what are the reasons? Take five minutes before every task, call or conversation and decide whether the results were achieved, and if not, what can be done to assure different results in future.
Ruben Gamez, founder of Bidsketch, starts his day by asking: “Which one of these tasks will have the biggest impact on my business? What can I get done that will speed up or make other projects unnecessary?”
Priorities constantly change, so for startups, it’s important to ask these questions on a regular basis, especially during the busy seasonal and holiday times of the year.
Focus on what you do best
There’s no need to do everything yourself. If your startup has a team, delegate tasks to employees who you trust in meeting and exceeding expectations (you’ll end up wasting even more time giving a task to someone who doesn’t have the skills or knowledge to do the job).
Richard Branson shares this perspective: “…You must (also) understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.”
Bunch routine activities and interruptions
If it’s a mundane time-consumer, like checking your email, assign yourself times to perform these tasks. A recent productivity survey reported that more than 70 percent admit to checking their personal emails at work. Thirty three percent even check it three times a day!
Louis Venter, CEO of MediaVision says that, “It’s important to prioritize tasks that are holding people up from doing their job, I find I start with these so that the team can get on with their day. I then look at my tasks and go from there. Making sure you have uninterrupted blocks of time is also key to ensuring that you remain productive throughout the day rather than waiting for ‘quiet time’ because that’s rarely available!”
Stop procrastination and multitasking
If you regularly avoid doing certain tasks, take the time to assess why this is. Procrastination leads to rushed work, mistakes and, ultimately, uncertainty about the quality of work. It’s best to schedule more time than needed for tasks that put you off.
Don’t multitask: focusing on one task at a time will double productivity, work output and creativity.
If a thought pops into your head, rather than stopping what you’re doing to find a solution to that nagging query, write it down. Make a list of things you need to get to after you’ve completed what you needed to get done.
Utilize your peak energy time
Whether you’re an early riser or late-starter, use peak times of energy to optimize work output and save time.
For Scott Britton, co-founder of Troops, targeting early mornings is key: “I’m usually up at 5:30 a.m. and reserve the beginning of my day, when no one is there to distract me, for my most important activities, which can include everything from working out and meditation to writing new pitches and strategically thinking about my business.”
Bonus tip: Eliminate the negative
The last thing you need is a negative working environment, so it is critical to set out the importance of this time of year to your team members.
Negative employees drain the motivation and creativity out of everyone in the room. Assess the impact of their behavior, how it compares to their colleagues, and make clear the debilitating effect that such negativity has on the wider business. Context and the impact of personal behavior can often shake team members into becoming more aware of their outlook.