Wasted time can be one of your business’ most expensive loses. When you’re a small concern, every moment that you don’t spend on billable activity is taking money out of your pocket. However, this time is as important as time spent on projects and with clients, so making the best of it is vital.
One of the biggest drains on time is meetings. While these are useful for making sure everyone is on the same page and discussing issues which affect whole teams, they aren’t always run in the most effective manner. If your meetings tend to wander between topics, drag on past their proposed end time, and end up spawning even more meetings, you need some streamlining tips.
- Take the time to design an effective agenda. A well-planned meeting is less likely to sprout side issues as these will most likely have already been anticipated and factored in. It will also have a process for addressing matters arising at the end, or in the next meeting.
- Think carefully about who needs to attend. Calling whole team meetings is rarely necessary and forces everyone to down tools. Unless it is categorically a whole team issue – such as addressing changes to working conditions – only team leaders or those concerned with a certain project/topic need attend.
- Phrase topics as questions; this is more likely to prompt those involved to start thinking about responses. It will also be clear from the agenda exactly what is going to be discussed, so people can be better prepared.
Work tasks don’t often arrive in a linear manner – upon completing one task, you aren’t helpfully handed the next. Knowing which order to complete things in, which to spend the most time on, and who needs to do them, are key to saving time in the office.
- Identify which tasks need the most time spent on them, and which can be rushed through. In house communication could be done via bullet points and notes, with more formal emails going to clients – the same content is communicated but in half the time.
- Use technology to simplify admin tasks. Setting up an automated process for forms, deposit slips, and timesheets might take a lot of time to begin with, but once everything is running smoothly it will drastically reduce the time needed to perform simple tasks, as well as reduce human error.
- Delegate tasks that don’t need to be done by you, or that are not in your skillset. An unconfident writer will take far longer over writing emails to clients than a confident one, because they double-check everything, even if it was right to begin with. Identify tasks that play to your strengths and only you can do, and delegate the rest to those with other skills.
- Don’t do tasks in the order you receive them; evaluate everything and start with the most important tasks first, even if that means dropping something you’ve already started. Important tasks include planning, building relationships, networking, and staff training – all things which will have a big impact on productivity and business opportunities, even though they don’t necessarily have a deadline.
- De-clutter and organise your workspace so that you have everything you need to hand. If you’re having to look for notes, briefs, and other documents, that’s time you’re not spending earning money. Digital workspaces need attention too, so sort emails and folders regularly and make sure everyone in the business knows where to find policies, templates, and guidelines.
Time saving hacks will help you to get the best out of business by maximising productivity. The top thing to remember is that taking the time to properly plan and organise your time will reap the rewards in the long run.