We all wish we could add a few hours to our day. There just never seems to be enough time. But the truth is, it’s not that we don’t have enough time; it’s that we’re not using our time wisely. In fact, according to Atlassian, 40% of work time is spent unproductively.
When you try to do too much, you end up getting nothing done. But with so much to do to run your business, how do you decide what to spend your valuable time on?
It’s time to trim the fat and wipe out all the unnecessary tasks you do each day. Here’s how to stop wasting time in six different areas of your business - and what to do instead.
1. Your schedule
Malcolm Forbes once said, “One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.”
Is your schedule overcrowded and too full? If you’re constantly jumping from meeting to meeting and task to task, getting interrupted every time you start something, you’re losing precious productive hours.
According to The Washington Post, the typical office worker is interrupted or switches tasks every three minutes and takes more than 23 minutes to recover. To remedy this, be diligent about using your calendar. Google Calendar is easy to use and integrates with your email so you can add appointments directly.
When planning out your day, block out time in your schedule to complete specific tasks, and focus on one task at a time. Adhere to those time blocks like you would any other appointment, and make sure your team is on board, too.
According to a survey by Adobe Systems Inc., employees spend 6.3 hours every day checking email. Email can be a dangerous black hole that is sometimes hard to escape from. If you answer every email as it comes in, you’ll never do anything else.
In his book, “Killing Cockroaches: And Other Scattered Musings on Leadership,” leadership coach Tony Morgan wrote, “You get to decide where your time goes. You can either spend it moving forward, or you can spend it putting out fires. You decide. And if you don't decide, others will decide for you.”
Schedule time to check and respond to emails. Respecting your time blocks means no distractions, and that includes email. When you do check email, deal with each email as you read it. Decide whether to respond, file or delete right away to maintain a clean inbox.
3. Customer service
Nothing can replace the personal touch of human beings, but there are some instances when automating customer service actions can be useful.
For example, automated emails for customers - to wish them happy birthday or remind them about items left in a shopping cart - are easy to set up and require minimal follow-up, but they go a long way in promoting a positive brand image.
Chatbots are also a new trend in customer service that may be worth investing in. New technology has now made it possible for chatbots to respond to customer queries. With more customer service actions being automated, you and your team can focus on bigger issues as they arise.
A lot of time and energy goes into running a business. And if you’re doing too much yourself, you’re wasting that time and energy on tasks someone else on your team could handle.
Delegation is an important part of being a business leader, and you need to learn to trust your team so that you can better run the business.
According to personal finance writer Brian Spero, “As an entrepreneur, it’s important to remember the mark of a great leader is the ability to delegate. Just like a quarterback on a football field, there’s a lot riding on your ability to call plays and lead the team toward the goal line, but you aren’t going to get very far without blockers to clear the path and someone to throw the ball to down field.”
All great leaders know how to delegate. Just look at former President Obama. While in office, he famously delegated decisions such as what to wear and what to eat so he could better focus on his job.
Proposals are an important part of the sales process. A well-written and executed proposal could be the key to winning over a new client. But putting together such a proposal is easier said than done.
Getting approvals from your sales, marketing, legal and leadership teams is a time-consuming and tedious process. And if you’re creating proposals from scratch every time, you’re wasting valuable time.
Consider investing in proposal software, such as PandaDoc, to streamline the proposal process. Collaboration is more easily attainable, and templates make creating new proposals a lot simpler and more efficient.
Hiring someone new for your team is a lengthy process. In fact, today it takes approximately 52 days to fill an open position, according to Bersin by Deloitte research. Over those 52 days, you have to post your job, sort through resumes, check references, interview candidates and make an offer. Those tasks can easily eat up a lot of your time.
On top of that, the American Staffing Association reports that 47% of small businesses are unable to find qualified candidates for open positions. So it may be taking you even longer to fill the position.
This is where hiring a staffing agency could be beneficial. They’ll do the hard work of sorting through resumes and finding quality candidates. Then, all you have to do is interview them. Working with an agency means you’ll be able to get a candidate in the door faster and get your team back up and running at full speed.
What areas of your business do you spend the most time in? Are there ways you can improve your productivity in those areas? Share your thoughts in the comments below: