How To Save Time In Business
Time management is one of the bigger obstacles small business owners have to deal with. It can be difficult to know how to strike the idea work/life balance, especially in the early days of the business.
In this article we will explore a variety of ways to help you, and hopefully reducing stress and increasing your quality of life, and work. Eventually teaching you how to save time in business!
There are many ways you can achieve an ideal work/life balance, and what works for one person, may not work for another. You have to analyse the options and see which works best for your lifestyle and your circumstances, then apply them.
Simple timekeeping is a great place to start, of course that’s always easier said than done.
Perhaps you’re a paper person, or a technology lover, either way you can play this to your advantage.
If you prefer to work with paper, consider investing a diary or a Filofax, keep regular notes on what you have to do and when.
If you’re a technology lover, consider a spreadsheet with multiple tabs to keep your life organised – this is my preferred method of organisation. I have several tabs: General to do, the schedule for the week, work tasks, home tasks, calendar, and much more. You may find this exercise alone helps you learn how to save time and be more productive.
For a week, 2 weeks or month, track everything you do. You can do this using a time tracking app such as Clockify or Toggl or just write it down on a piece of paper.
Doing it consistently for a period of time will help you ascertain exactly where you’re spending your time. This is great for awareness because often we can think we have no time but really we’ve spent an hour scrolling through Instagram or other time suck tasks.
When you see the data in front of you, it helps you to re-align your priorities and adjust so you can spend the time doing productive things you want to do.
Use the internet to your advantage
The internet is a wonderful place, albeit often a time suck, but there are some fabulous pieces of software and apps that can help you claw your time back.
RescueTime is a great add on to use, it shows you how long you’ve spent on certain websites – very similar to the tracking method above except this is automated – great if you spend a lot of time on the internet. You may think you spent 10 minutes looking for curtains on EBay but may actually find it was an hour and a half because you got sidetracked looking at stationary (Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us!)
Be more productive
Batch processing is an effective way to be more productive. Often if you’re flitting between tasks you can feel like you’re getting nothing done, and that’s because you’re not.
Spending time batch processing tasks can be a great way to get stuff done and achieve results while you’re on a roll. So you could batch book appointments or have all of your calls and meetings on one day. Perhaps you need to write a load of content, do it all at once.
Instead of spreading these tasks out throughout the day and week, you can deal with them all in one go and feel good about getting through a tonne of stuff!
How to timeblock
Another method worth considering is time blocking. Time blocking enables you to allocate all your available time to tasks, knowing exactly what you’re doing when. This method can be particularly useful for those who have a lot of commitments, or those who have children and need a regimented routine. It may not work so well for people who like to live a carefree relaxed lifestyle.
This method allows you to keep a track of different aspects of your life, ensuring you don’t overwhelm yourself with tasks. It also enables you to break down tasks to make them more manageable, and provides a quick place for you to glance at when you have a few moments free to complete a task.
For example, if you get up at 7am, you have an hour between then and getting the kids to school in which you have to get them and yourself ready. Time block how long every single action takes, it’s wise to overestimate slightly so you don’t find yourself running behind all day if something takes longer than expected. You may find you have a spare 15 minutes here or there, in which you can add in some smaller tasks such as replying to emails or the likes.
When it comes to work, time blocking is a brilliant way to make sure you don’t take on more work than you can handle. If you know that you only have 5 disposable hours in the day to work on specific tasks, you won’t agree to take on anymore work which will leave you out of time.
Time blocking is also great for productivity. If you know you only have X amount of time to spend on a certain task, you’re less likely to procrastinate doing other things. Another benefit to time blocking is that it helps you know when to stop. It’s very easy to keep working late into the night, which can often mean neglecting your social life, or household chores; you can prevent that by time blocking free time too. Even if you just label it “free time” or “chores”, you will know it’s time to stop; this will stop you burning out, and enrich your personal life.
Don’t burn out
It’s so obvious but easy to forget, the more relaxed and happy you are, the better you will perform in your business life. If you’ve spent the weekend playing in the park, or having a relaxing time with your spouse, you’re much likely to be more focused during working hours.
In contrast, if you’ve spent the weekend rushing around catching up on things you didn’t have time to do in the week, you’ll start work again feeling like you’ve not had a break. This leads to one burnt out, strung up, stressed business person, and that helps nobody – especially you!
This one might not teach you how to save time directly but it’s really important for your wellbeing and will save you time in the long run.
The most important thing you can do for your time management is learning how to say no and taking time off. If somebody asks you to do something, but you know you don’t have the time or resources, then say no.
A lot of people lack the assertiveness needed and often end up overcompensating and spending a lot of time doing things they don’t want to do, which leads to a pile up in other areas of life.
Obviously prioritise, if it must be done or you want to do it, then you must do it. But don’t be afraid to say no to further work, postpone it if you have to.
Taking time off is a must.
Take weekends or alternate weekends off, or whatever works for your schedule. Make sure you take regular holidays, such as Christmas and a week or so during the summer.
This is a time saving method because by taking time off you’re recharging your batteries and allowing yourself to be more productive and work better when you are in the right frame of mind.
The final thing you can do to improve time management is to delegate.
Rather than cram all the admin work you hate into a day when you could be spent doing the things you love, delegate to a virtual assistant to give you more time.
Many people ask for more hours in a day, and a virtual assistant can give you them!
As well as a virtual assistant, consider outsourcing aspects of your personal life too, a cleaner, gardener, etc. Think about all the time you spend cleaning when you could spend £25 – £50 an hour depending on your area and hire a professional to do it for you.
As with all outsourcing, you’re able to spend your time more effectively, doing things you enjoy, earning more money and often the job is done to a higher standard because it’s in the hands of a professional!
Work Hard Play Hard
It’s fine to work hard, but you must play equally hard otherwise you won’t be able to give your business everything it deserves and end up doing substandard work or going round in circles!