As business owners we’re always looking for the secret formula to make the most out of our time.
Tools and technology might seem like the obvious answer for improved productivity, but there are a few other things you can focus on first. Technology can only support good processes and principles.
Do you feel like:
- You’re a duck treading water
- Productivity is low
- You’re constantly busy but you’re not making any progress
It could be that you’re simply not assigning time to your highest priorities. By outlining your plans and making time at the start of each day to map out what your priorities are, you can FOCUS your time where it matters. This makes progress possible.
Without this key step, you’ll complete strings of inconsequential tasks that take time without giving anything in return. If you need some extra structure, decide on 3-4 key metrics that you must do daily to progress your business. These metrics could be a number of sales calls, follow ups, or products listed for sale.
2. Real working time
There is a very real, practical limit to how many workable hours there are in your day. If you have a standard 8-hour day, then you need to be realistic with how you assign your time.
When running a business, it’s easy to lose time:
- 15% lost to interruptions and contingencies like re-doing work or other ad hoc tasks
- 15% lost to communications and administration around your activities
- 10% lost to breaks, breathing and loss of focus from task switching
- 10% lost to social media if this is part of your strategy
- 10% used on working on long term goals and projects for the future
Leaving you, at best, 40% of your day for completing planned work – or 192 minutes. If you’re unsure if this reflects your own time use, track your time over a full work week and note what was done in each 15-minute block. Some of the next points help curb some of this time leakage.
Let’s get one thing straight… You’re central to your business, but you’re not completely irreplaceable. Every task or activity you personally complete should be because there’s no-one else who can do it. When you’re getting started, it’s logical to think you’re alone if you’re a one-person operation. The sooner you realise that there’s a whole industry of professionals you can outsource work to, the sooner you’ll double your time by freeing yourself of your To NOT Do List. That’s right, list out your normal To Do List, then write down every task or process you could show someone else how to do… and try to never do them again.
Common tasks to delegate are:
- Follow up calls to book clients
- Social media posts
- Drafting blogs or web content
- Tweaking your website
- Cleaning up your email inbox and assigning incoming emails to relevant categories
- Bookkeeping, accounts and chasing unpaid invoices
- Research, fact-checking or ad hoc client follow up
If you’re not comfortable or ready to bring in other people yet, you can start on automation instead.
This is where technology meets psychology. What tasks can a computer do with the same level of empathy and emotional intelligence as a person?
There are several key areas that are simple to start the process of automation:
- Email autoresponders
- Client information capture through digital forms and/or CRMs
- Templates for all documents, communications, marketing and anywhere possible
- Ecommerce, booking systems, and payment systems
- Scheduling and task management apps
Many of these tasks are a process of asking or providing standard information. Done well, these automations mimic the way you would approach the task personally, but with greater accuracy and consistency. It’s not impersonal to automate, it’s smart customer service.
What programs make us more productive?
There are several personal apps, CRMs, workflow managers, and email and marketing automation programs that you can piece together to supercharge your productivity. When you’re ready, a Digital Transformation Consultant can you help you map this out for a complete business solution. An accessible starting point is booking in for the Digital Solutions program. This Government supported and subsidised program has the core purpose of helping you be more productive, competitive and profitable as a small business through using digital technologies. You’ll be assisted by expert advisors, many who are small business owners, ready to help you through this process.
Rhonwyn Learner is a planning and strategy expert and one of our Digital Solutions advisors. Learn more about the program and how it can help your business here.
Interested in strategies to improve your productivity? Book in for a free 15-minute consultation with Rhonwyn here.