Are you a small business owner or an entrepreneur? Is your work so demanding that you have no free time to do anything else? To succeed, you need to manage your time well.
I know, easier said than done, right?
These time-saving tips are perfect for small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs.
Time-Saving Tips for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs
Businesses talk a lot about saving time, but this expression is often perceived negatively. As a frustration. A complaint.
Week after week and month after month, it's the same story, and the words “save time” become meaningless. Nothing changes. All talk and no action. Overworked employees roll their eyes and the same frustrations they had yesterday become the same frustrations they have tomorrow.
And entrepreneurs get it too. They know what it's like reaching the end of their day, wondering where it went. Discouraged by the tasks they couldn't get done.
Small businesses and entrepreneurs will never have enough time, and there will always be something that needs to get done. But they can find time-effective solutions to help them do it.
Effective time management depends on the following factors:
- How quickly certain tasks can be completed. Can they be simplified? Can larger tasks be split up into smaller tasks that are easier to delegate? Is it just a matter of eliminated distractions and getting the work done more efficiently?
- How quickly information and/or education can be obtained and exchanged at all levels. In other words, you can't complete a task if you don't know how to do it, or if you don't know it needs to be done.
- The order of completion and the delegation of tasks and projects among employees, contractors, partners, and clients. It's pointless to complete one task if something else is needed to be completed first. Effective communication and big picture planning are required. Delegate effectively and outsource what can be outsourced.
Of course, there are other factors that affect time management. But it begins with understanding where the bottlenecks exist, and systematically freeing up space so your workflow is more efficient.
How do you do it?
Unfortunately, brute force is not enough. You can power through the mess temporarily, but that's not really saving you time. You're just pushing harder through an inefficient system. This is one reason employees dislike their bosses. Rather than fixing a broken system, they ask their employees to push harder, until they break.
It's not a great look for a business leader, despite the stories you hear about entrepreneurial anomalies like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk pushing their employees to the brink.
If your business is doing what no one has ever done, like reinventing the way we communicate or putting people on Mars, then you might have some leeway. Your team is more likely to go the extra mile knowing their efforts are changing the world.
If you're just starting another supplement company or running a Quicky Lube though… your staff will likely be less inspired.
So instead of breaking your employees, or yourself if you're a solo entrepreneur, let's look at some tips that can help you save time.
Use Transcription Services For Business Documents
Documents such as business negotiations, board meetings, business meetings, round tables, public speeches, phone calls and other official/unofficial and festive events can be transcribed into text by a transcription service.
Transcription is convenient for subsequent analysis, data processing, and decision-making.
The best way is to use an automatic transcription service, where experts use a ton of tools to transcribe audio to text or video to text in a short time. Use a transcription company that works with native speakers, which guarantees quality and an opportunity to save time for more important tasks.
Manage Employee Times
Saving your own time is not enough. Taking your business to the next level and reducing stress in the office requires that you monitor and manage your employee's time as well. Don't assume they know what to do and when to do it.
If your staff is working inefficiently, it doesn't mean they're lazy or incompetent. They just need guidance.
It's a coach's responsibility to make sure his or her team works together. That's why teams have coaches. The same is true in business.
And you can use time management software that not only allows you to monitor the working hours of employees online and assign tasks effectively, but tools that help them communicate more efficiently with you and with each other.
You can also use monthly calendars and other tools like Google Tasks, Microsoft To-Do, Things, Wrike, Focuster, Trello, and Notion to schedule tasks that need to be completed.
Scan/Organize Documents And Use Templates
Even modern organizations that prioritize digital documents get overwhelmed with paper. Whether it's mandatory financial reporting, management, accounting, or just day-to-day invoices, to-do lists, and note keeping.
It's good to have a document repository. Such repositories have a simple, quick search system that once documents are scanned and digitized, allows you what you're looking for in a matter of seconds, even if another user created it.
Stop wasting your time digging through dust-covered bankers' boxes.
And with templates, dozens of documents of the same type can be created every day. It takes much less time to make a document from a template and they can found quickly in your repository.
This also allows clients, partners, and staff to receive documents with the same structure and formatting for consistency, efficiency, and common culture. Tools such as Dropbox Google Drive, MS OneDrive, pCLOUD, Amazon Web Services, and Open Drive can be easily implemented into your workflow.
Modern businesses employ goal-oriented operational communications with employees, clients, and partners.
While there are some old holdovers, loosely organized impromptu office meetings with managers, salespeople, specialists, and so on are becoming a thing of the past. That may or may not be a good thing as there is something to be said about office camaraderie, coffee, and chit-chat.
But they do kill productivity.
If your team is distant, the most straightforward and most affordable communication is video.
Employees and you do not have to get together in the office daily to discuss work. Quick and concise communication is a must if saving time is your goal. That doesn't mean you should never get together. In-person meetings and staff lunches can go a long way in developing unity. They can also enhance digital communication among colleagues.
For organized effective communication though, there are many programs that allow managers, entrepreneurs, and team leaders to control virtual meetings and assign roles to video chat participants, such as speakers, moderators, and listeners. Google Meet, Zoom, Facebook Group Chat, Skype, and HouseParty are all tools you can use in your organization.
Use Online Banking
Old habits die hard.
Online banking should be obvious to anyone who starts a business today, but when it comes to money, there's something to be said about the old way of doing things. Depositing checks in person for example and receiving paper statements.
But doing everything you can possibly do online will save you loads of time, and it can also save you money as banks often incentivize clients with lower fees, or no fees altogether.
What does health have to do with saving time?
Whether it's more energy, better mental clarity, improved sleep, or more confidence… a healthy you will run circles around a dull, run-down, tired and sick you.
You might think you're doing your business a favor by putting it first, but you're wrong. A tired mind and an unhealthy body can make even simple tasks hard. And the tasks that are actually hard become impossible.
Do Not Multitask
Multitasking is a myth. You may think you can do multiple tasks at once but according to research, you can't. At least, not very well.
What most people do is called “task switching” which is a stop/start process that's not only inefficient but also exhaustive.
Do one task for a moment, switch. Do another task for a moment, switch. Get distracted by something else, switch.
Eventually, you make it back to your original task but you don't pick up where you left off.
It might take several minutes to figure out where you were and what you were doing. If it's a difficult task or a task like writing that requires a level of “flow”, it'll take even longer. Those minutes add up throughout the day, and the start/stop process of switching all day wears you down.
Sure, people can drive and hold a conversation, and they can walk and chew gum. But none of those things (unless you're a brand new driver) are complex tasks that challenge you intellectually or require you to solve a problem.
Of course, there are situations where so-called multitasking (task-switching) is necessary, but to save time and get the most done in a day, do your best to focus on one thing at a time until it's complete. Then move on to the next thing.
Don't Let Perfect Be The Enemy of Good
Don't make your work harder than it has to be.
Do you ever notice how some people seem to cruise through life getting things done and achieving their goals while others bang their heads against the wall and get nowhere?
It's because those who get it done are not obsessed with perfection. That doesn't mean they don't care, or that they don't work hard. It also doesn't mean everything in life comes easy to them.
So what's their secret?
They know when to call something “done”. Either consciously or unconsciously they apply the 80/20 rule to life, also known as the Pareto Principle, which states 80 percent of your results come from 20 percent of your efforts.
Don't get hung up on the numbers. Depending on what it is, you might get 70 percent of your desired results for 30 percent of your effort, 90 percent results for 10 percent effort, or maybe you get 87 percent results for 13 percent effort, but good luck calculating that. 😃
The point is, those who succeed (even if they are perfectionists) know when it's time to pull the plug. They know when a task has reached a point where more effort does not yield results that justify continuing.
They don't aim for perfection where perfection is not required. They move on to the next thing that must be done, which brings us to our next tip…
Pick It Up
Hindu priest and entrepreneur Dandapandi “famously” said, if you have time to make your breakfast, you have time to wash the breakfast dish.
He also says if you see something on the floor, don't step over it. Pick it up. It doesn't matter who dropped it or left it there. Just pick it up.
Take action and get things done.
The road to nowhere is paved with good intentions. Okay, that's not the exact quote (the road to hell is paved with good intentions), but it illustrates the point…
We all have good intentions, but not all of us achieve our goals.
The difference? Those who do, get things done.
There are various ways to learn to be organized. One of my favourites and the one I use is August Bradley's Pillar, Pipelines and Vaults (PPV) System using Notion software. Another is David Allen's Getting Things Done (GTD) System.
Whether you use a system or follow Dandapandi's advice of just picking up what you see on the floor instead of walking past it, you must get it done.
Procrastinating and finding excuses to let things pile up will result in chaos and overwhelm that'll not only be a time-suck, but it could also stop you in your tracks completely.
Plan Your Day
I don't know where I heard this or who said it, but if I remember while driving or in the shower, I'll update this post.😃
It goes like this, and I'm paraphrasing of course…
“I noticed that every time I went into the grocery store with a list, I walked in, grabbed what I needed, and I was out.”
“But whenever I went in without a list, I found myself standing in the aisle for minutes at a time staring at the shelves and wondering what to buy.”
You probably know what it's like, I know I do. With a reasonably sized list, it might take 10 or 15 minutes to get in and out of the grocery store. Without a list, it might take an hour or more. Imagine what you could do with that extra time.
The same is true for the productive hours of your day.
You should never sit down at your desk in the morning and wonder what you should do. That's how people end up on social media sites and chatting aimlessly with co-workers until half the day is over.
You should never hold a meeting without an objective. It's bad enough when one person wastes time, it's even worse when an entire room full of people do it.
Having a clear and concise plan of action for the day will allow you to get in and get out. Don't underestimate the power of a detailed to-do list.
Some other recommendations you may find helpful are hiring a cleaning service or a virtual assistant to handle tedious, time-consuming tasks and using proper accounting software to keep track of your books.
Recognizing what your time is worth is also a great way to stop wasting time. The entire reason we talk about “saving time” is because we know we can't make more. There are only 24 hours in a day and our days are numbered. When you realize how valuable every minute is, you're a lot less likely to waste them.