6 Small Business Time Traps and How to Avoid Them
August 24, 2012
As a business owner, time is one of your most valuable assets. You need to make the most of every minute. If you don’t, you risk doing serious detriment to your company’s momentum.
Every saved hour translates into a serious cost reduction, thus improving your bottom line. Imagine if every single employee were able to accomplish more in fewer hours – day after day, the cost savings would be invaluable. According to one infographic by Current , the average person wastes three hours out of every eight hour workday. The top culprit? Web surfing. It’s not that people are lazy, however.
From the employee to CEO levels alike, people get so caught up in working hard that it’s difficult to see that there is, in fact, a shorter path from point A to B. Instead of taking healthy breaks, they skip lunch and drive themselves into a perpetual state of burnout. It may sound counter-intuitive, but people need to embrace the art of staying mentally healthy by doing less.
Instead of falling into the all-too-common time traps, set your organization up for success. If you feel like you need a break, get up from your computer and take one. Take an hour to browse social media, but resist the 3-hour Facebook brain-drain and kick procrastination to the curb by prioritizing and delegating.
Here’s how to avoid the six worst ways to waste your valuable time:
“By definition, no human or any business is perfect, so achieving perfection is unrealistic and doomed to failure,” business writer Martin Zwilling wrote in Forbes with inspiration from Dr. Jan Yager, a recognized time management expert. “The aim for excellence is laudable, but if translated to perfectionism, it becomes self-defeating and non-productive.”
More often than not, good enough is a job well-done. Aim for top-tier results, but don’t let your high standards hold you back from achieving results now.
2. Hoarding Work
With a work-hard mentality, you’re ready to do all the work. You take on more and more until finally, you’re spread so thin that none of your projects are moving forward.
“If you’ve spent three hours reconciling a bank statement, you’re making poor use of your time,” wrote Jane Porter in an Entrepreneur article. “Too often, small-business owners waste time on tasks they don’t like or aren’t even good at.”
Stop trying to wear every single hat in your business. Delegate.
3. Going Guerrilla
When you’re time-strapped, you may think that the best thing to do is to just dive right into your piles and piles of work. Bad idea.
Before tackling your toughest problems, outline a roadmap. Planning ahead will actually save you time down the road.
“One of the top productivity killers is disorganization and wasting time trying to find something,” according to Zwilling.
Instead of scrambling, start with your goal and work backwards.
As a business owner, you need to keep your eyes open for unnecessary, repetitive work. Beyond yourself, develop an eye for company-wide, operational redundancy or inefficiencies. Try to set up systems to automate the repetitive work as much as you can.
Create contact databases and email templates. Design and implement structured processes, wherever and whenever possible. You’d be amazed at how much time you can save by making some of these simple changes.
5. Communication Flops
“Don’t try to figure out what someone meant in a confusing email; go straight to the source and ask,” Ann Mehl wrote in an article for Entrepreneur. “This saves on time, energy, and mistakes. Asking for, and giving, clear communication is key.”
Stop sending back-and-forth memos. Set an example, and make a personal effort to get up and talk to people. It’s the most efficient way to work through a problem and exchange information.
6. Brain Drain
If you’re constantly moving at full force, you’ll eventually burn out. Instead of working in perpetual turbo-mode, map out a healthy pace. Relax. Rest your mind and body because you absolutely deserve and need it.
“Power naps (<30 minutes) improve mood, promote job satisfaction, and will increase your productivity towards the tail end of each day,” writer Shawn Graham said in a blog post for Shopify.
Not in the mood to nap? Go for a walk, get on a treadmill, and exercise instead.
Delegate. Give your toughest programming tasks to your best programmer, and give your complex writing assignments to your best writer. Of course, give people opportunities to learn more, take on challenges,and become more well-rounded, but make sure that from an organizational standpoint, the division of labor makes sense.
How do you make the most of your time? What tips can you share?