If you’re a small business owner, then you’ll likely have gotten to the end of the day and wondered ‘What did I achieve today?’
Your expectation at the beginning of the day was that you would complete certain tasks, address new concerns, and follow up on previous tasks. Now, 8 hours later, you look at your desk and you know you didn’t achieve all the tasks at hand. This can not only be a major frustration, but it can also impact your next day’s work because instead of doing new tasks, you are spending time trying to catch up on the previous day’s commitments.
Structuring Your Day
- Take the time to arrange your day
- Plan your breaks
- Slot in a time for outbound phone calls
- Make time to assist others
- Work out the time of day that is usually wasted
- List all the jobs that need to be done, and an expectation of time to complete each task.
Once you have completed this list, you will be able to structure your day. In fact, the best time of day to structure your day is at the end of the day. If you have your work plan ready for the next morning, your work will breeze through.
Improving Your Time Management Skills
- If part of your day requires you to be out visiting clients, making deliveries or basically anything that takes you out of the office, the best time to slot this in is in non-peak times – usually between 10 am and 3 pm. Going out on the road in heavy traffic times will cut down the amount of outside the office work that can be achieved. The level of frustration of sitting in traffic can also be avoided.
- Once you’ve been out to see clients and you return to the office, immediately following up on any tasks from these journeys is vital. It is fresh in your mind, so it will be completed faster. If you delay it, it will affect everything else you do, because it is sitting on your mind, like a weight, and will slow down whatever you do instead.
- We all have a part of the day when we are highly effective, and a part of the day when we hit a wall. For many people, they are most proactive first thing in the morning and least effective immediately after lunch, where we would prefer to be having a Nana nap rather than working. Whatever these times of day are for you – plan your day to encompass them. If you have a major report to do that takes brainpower, then plan to do it when you are in peak form. If you have grunge work that has to be one each day, that is tedious and doesn’t require great brain power, plan this work for when you are at your lowest energy, which is usually after lunch.
- Learn how to say NO! We all have time thieves in our midst. Whether it is the worker that needs assistance with something now, a client that just won’t get off a call, or a meeting that went too long. The time has come to stop others from stealing your time. You can arrange to speak with these people in our low period, and at least then they aren’t stealing time from your work plan.
- If inbound calls come when you are elbow deep in a report, ask if you can return their call later in the day. Explain that you can’t help them right now, but you will have more time for them after lunch.
- Automate your process with a website. Do you have to answer a phone call and give the same answer 20 times a day? Are you constantly telling people your opening hours, or how to book your services or buy your products? Are you sick of answering frequently asked questions? That’s one of the reasons you should have a website. An effective website design can not only communicate directly to your customers but it can also save you a lot of time. Even a basic website can act as the face of your business, answering questions for customers without having to interact with them directly. Make it easy for customers or browsers to find all your most important information including:
- Address and car parking details
- Opening hours
- Product pricing and delivery times
- Your returns or refunds policy
- What’s included in your service
- Your qualifications
- If you’re insured
- Any awards you’ve won
- How to book an appointment (bonus points for automating your booking process and syncing with your calendar)
- Customer testimonials (this will help with converting browsers into paying customers)
- Other FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Organising Your Workspace
If your desk or your workspace is messy, so will your mind be. It is difficult to concentrate on the task at hand when other unfinished tasks or future tasks are sitting within arm’s reach.
Create your workspace to be efficient – and you will be more efficient. You can buy folders or trays that are labelled with the task and put anything associated with that task in it. That way when you are concentrating on something else it won’t be in your vision to distract you. It will also be very handy for when you need to start a new task by being able to put your hands on everything you need in one place.
Take the time to look around your work zone and identify the distractions. Your chair isn’t at the right height – fix it or change it, but don’t let it distract you. Wherever your mind goes when you lose concentration is an area that once addressed, will no longer take you away from the task at hand.
Paralysis by Analysis
Stop thinking about it – just do it. If you’re having trouble coming up with the opening remarks in a report – skip it. Go onto a part of the work that you know and can do without analysis. Then, once the bulk of the work is done, you can take the time to go back to the area that would have stopped progress. It is amazing how quickly you will now be able to complete that task, because your mind would have been working on it while you were working on what came easier. Task done!
Supercharging Your Out-Put by Managing Your Time
We’ve all heard the expression – ‘plan your work and work your plan’. Maybe because we’ve heard it so often, we don’t really pay attention to it. If you plan your day to take into account all the time thieves and petty distractions, and then just work through each of the tasks in order and make efficient use of your time, it is amazing how much more you will get done in the day. And then at the end of the day, you can take the time to sit back, relax, reward yourself and create the next day’s plan.