How many times have you looked around your small business and said, “There just isnt enough time in the day to get everything done!” Welcome to the biggest realization you will ever make as a small business owner, my friend: there are only so many hours in the day and there isnt a darn thing you can do about it.
So, instead of beating yourself up at the end of the day over how much you didnt get done, you should learn to make better use of the time you have. Your time should be spent doing only those things that help build your business and increase revenue, not mundane tasks that could be handled by someone else. Its called “working on your business instead of working in it.”
We entrepreneurs often feel like we have to do everything ourselves or things wont get done. Its a more accurate statement to say that things might get done, but they wouldnt get done to the high standards we set for ourselves.
I feel your pain. It wasnt that long ago when I thought that I had to have my nose in every detail of my business. I was personally involved in everything from designing the website to sales and marketing to product design and project management to customer support and beyond.
I spent so much time doing everyone elses job that I didnt have time to do my own, and the business suffered for it. It took a conscious effort on my part to stop micromanaging and start delegating. Not only that, I found that I had to change my habits regarding even the simplest things like checking email and taking calls; two things that were eating up several hours of my average day.
Heres how I did it and you can, too.
Before you can figure out the best use of your time you need to have a clear understanding of what youre spending your time on now. Create a diary that details your average day and include every task you perform and how much time it took. If you spent 30 minutes answering email, jot that down. If you spent 2 hours at lunch, jot that down. If you spend 30 minutes on the phone talking to someone whos trying to sell you toner ink, jot it down. Account for every minute you spent working for the entire week.
At the end of the week list out all the tasks and the times spent on them. I think youll be amazed at how much time youre spending on things that really arent the best use of your time. Now divide the list into tasks that you yourself must absolutely, positively handle and tasks that you could hand off to someone else. Yes, I said hand off to someone else. Youre about to learn to delegate, Heaven help you.
Heres the whole point of this exercise: if youre wasting time on tasks that can be done by someone else, then you need to stop doing them. Even making small changes in the way you use email or answer the phone can save you hours every day.
In my opinion email is the greatest killer of focus and productivity on the planet. Its a terrific communications medium and if used wisely can be a highly productive business tool, but more often than not email is used to share funny pictures of animals in compromising positions and videos of Britney Spears. If you keep up with how much time youre spending every day on non-essential email I think youll get my point.
Many of us have become so addicted to email that we check it every 2 minutes whether we need to or not. If youre like me you spend more time plowing through spam than actually reading email of importance. So unless your business hinges on every email that comes in, I suggest you turn off the email program completely and only check it two to three times a day. Better still, farm out the email checking to someone else and instruct them to only forward email to you that requires your personal attention. Youll be amazed at how many hours a day youll save.
Id bet that you also get dozens of calls every week from people that you dont really need to talk to. Ive stopped answering the phone at my office altogether and I highly recommend you do the same. I let someone else answer the phone and they have implicit instructions not to bother me unless the call is from someone they know Ill want to speak to, like my Mama. Otherwise, they take a message and if the call merits my attention, Ill return it personally or assign it to someone else to handle.
If youre new in business you may not yet have the luxury of farming out every task that is eating up your precious time, but once youre in a position to do so outsourcing these tasks will free you up to work on more important things, like building your business and increasing revenue.