The life of a small business owner can seem like a never-ending “to do” list. There are countless small tasks that keep both you and employees busy, leaving little time to focus on the bigger issues like improving operations and finding new customers.
No matter what type of work you do, it is important that you and your team manage time wisely in order to be productive. According to a survey by salary.com, 89 percent of people reported wasting time each day, and 31 percent admitted to wasting roughly one hour daily.
This week’s summer solstice brings the longest day of the year to the Northern Hemisphere. We decided to put the extra time to good use by sharing some time saving strategies that every small business can use.
Know your enemy.
Begin by determining exactly how you waste time. Start tracking your daily activities and note each time you do something that is not productive or work-related during business hours. Once you know what you are wasting time on, you can develop strategies to tackle the problem and start being more productive.
Make the most of downtime.
If you commute to work by bus or train, take advantage of the time to do smaller work tasks like reading and answering emails. Even a long elevator ride offers the opportunity to update your calendar or write notes. There are plenty of mobile productivity, calendar, and list apps that can help you accomplish tasks when not in front of a computer. Completing simple things that take up time will give you a head start so you can focus on more important tasks when you arrive at your workplace.
Set daily goals.
When you start each day with specific goals in mind, you can be more effective in managing your time. Decide on the highest-value goal for the day and break it down into tasks. Set a maximum of three priority tasks each day and work on them in order, taking regular breaks along the way. Some studies have shown that scheduling tasks in one-hour intervals with a short break in between improves productivity. Another proven tactic is working on strategic tasks early in the day and easier tasks at the end of the day when you may have less energy.
Take deadlines seriously.
Setting a due date for every project will go a long way towards helping you and your team prioritize tasks and manage the workflow more easily. Success requires creating deadlines that are achievable and taking them seriously. Utilize tools like Google Calendar and project planners to help you stay on track.
Shorten or eliminate meetings.
Meetings are important business tools, but they can become a significant waste of time when they go on too long or happen too often. Eliminate unnecessary meetings in favor of those that will add value or improve productivity. Invite only the most essential members of the team. Shortening the length of your meetings will encourage everyone to get right to work. You’ll accomplish just as much and give each attendee valuable time to accomplish other tasks.
Have more conversations.
Many small business owners consider email a time saver, but in reality, the opposite is often the case. Think about how much time you’ve wasted waiting for a co-worker to respond to an email when you could have walked to their office and asked them in person. Face-to-face or phone conversations can save a lot of time and help avoid the misunderstandings that can happen when emailing.
Schedule time to check email.
There is no need to check your email every fifteen minutes or answer every email as it comes in. Designate four or five short blocks of time throughout your workday to check and respond to emails. In addition, avoid the distraction of answering personal mail or sifting through junk mail during business hours.
Get social on your own time.
The same strategy applies for managing social media. Set aside specific times to review and respond to posts. Unless it is specifically your job responsibility, avoid checking social sites while at work. Steer clear of temptation by not leaving company or personal Facebook or Twitter sites open all day. Stash your phone in your desk drawer or your bag so you’re less likely to look at it. The five minutes you steal here and there adds up to a chunk of wasted time that can be better spent on priorities.
Invest in accounting software.
Accounting software programs can minimize the amount of time spent on administrative functions so you can focus on other aspects of your business. These systems are designed to ensure that your business financials are accurate, reliable, and easy to understand. They can also help increase efficiency by speeding up your cash flow, reducing costs, and improving budgeting. Choose software that caters to your business needs and is geared toward the end-user. No matter how user-friendly the program is, if you find it too complicated or time-consuming to make regular updates, you will not make the most of your investment.
Take advantage of technology.
There are countless organizational and time-tracking software programs and mobile apps that will help keep you and your employees on track. Cloud-based calendar apps and file-sharing tools such as Dropbox Business will help improve your team’s efficiency. It also pays to invest in a time-tracking program that will help boost productivity by showing you where and how your team can save time.
Multi-tasking can sound like a time saver, but the truth is it rarely results in accomplishing more. When you do not put your full effort into any one task, nothing is done to the best of your ability. You will actually achieve more when you concentrate on one activity at a time and complete it before moving on to the next task.
Consider working capital financing.
Waiting for your clients or customers to pay off outstanding invoices can result in a cash flow shortage that impacts your ability to manage expenses and expand operations. Summit Financial Resources offers working capital loans for small to medium-sized businesses that involve using your outstanding invoices, or accounts receivable, as collateral. Our invoice factoring option gives you quick and easy access to the funds you need, so you can stop waiting and get back to business.
Implementing a few small changes can have a big impact on your productivity. When you identify where and how you and your employees are wasting precious time, you can take the steps necessary to eliminate distractions, improve workflow, and maybe even carve out a bit of extra time in your workday.
Working Capital Financing is a few clicks away.
Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.