Starting and growing a business takes great dedication and efficiency. There’s little room for wasting time. But even the best of us can struggle in the day-to-day world with all of the little things that can sabotage our efforts to spend time effectively on the things that matter most.
Good organization and time-management skills are essential to success. Here are some ways to work smarter and squeeze more productivity from your limited time:
• Frame questions and requests more specifically. When you ask a vague question or issue an unclear instruction, what you get back is likely to be just as vague. By being specific and detailed, you cut confusion and extraneous detail. Communicate as precisely as you can what result you want, or why you need to know an answer.
• Make your desk a no-parking zone. A desk isn’t storage space, it’s work space, so treat it that way. The more clutter you have, the greater your odds of being distracted. Remove everything that isn’t necessary. A clear workspace promotes a clear mind.
• Weed out wasteful activities. The old 80-20 rule applies. About 20 percent of the things you spend time on produce 80 percent of your results. To maximize your productivity, identify the 20 percent activities and focus on them. Look at how you currently spend time. How many things on your to-do list get checked off? Identify what you’d like your 80 percent – your results – to look like.
• Set tougher priorities. Every entrepreneur makes dozens or more choices daily about what to focus on first. Most tend to put out the fires, and then move elsewhere. To be more productive, however, you need to balance being a firefighter and being a builder. List all tasks you face, from big to mundane. Determine which are “A-list” tasks that must definitely be done today. Divide others into B-, C- and D-level tasks. Now you can progressively work through all the minor tasks that lead to the greater steps that, in time, lead you to achieving your goals.
• Plan your procrastination. Let’s assume we all procrastinate. The secret to successful procrastination is to do it deliberately, based on available time and the status of the tasks. Choose tasks that are least time-sensitive and least at-risk and postpone them, but still give yourself a deadline.
• Improve hiring and training practices. Take your time when hiring and find people who can work independently with minimal supervision. This means less time on your part explaining things and correcting their work. But you still should offer training to make sure all employees are aligned with your business goals. •