As business owners, we are always looking for more time as somehow there doesn’t seem to be enough. When we started our business, perhaps we hadn’t anticipated all the things we would need to do to run our business in addition to actually providing the products or services to our customers.
So, each day, we will have a long list of things to do and often end up working into the evenings and weekends to achieve them – and we haven’t even started on the tasks which would help us grow the business.
We’ve tried lots of different approaches whilst we have been running our business and I wouldn’t say that we have cracked it but we have learned some things so far which have really helped us.
So, here are some ideas on things that we can do which will help us save time that we can then divert to growing our business.
Analyse where you spend the time
For a month, if we can write down exactly what we are doing each day and how long it takes us, it gives us a sense of exactly where the time is going. We can then identify if there are specific things which we feel we should be spending less time on or not doing at all and then take action to address this. For example, if you are spending the equivalent of 3 days out of your month on paperwork, then perhaps you need better systems or some admin support to help free up these 3 days.
Due to the nature of our business as bookkeepers, we feel it is important to record our time as we work each day on timesheets and we can then pull this information together and analyse it. Timesheets can be as simple as an excel or word document that you handwrite on each day or you may use a time recording app on your phone or it may be part of the IT systems you use to manage your business.
If we have other people working in the business then it sounds obvious to delegate to them. However, there may be more they can do to help us. For example, a member of staff who works in retail premises can be given additional tasks they can do whilst it is quiet or they may have aptitude to do more and so can be given more of the tasks which you normally do.
If you don’t have any staff in your business and it’s just you, do you have any close family or friends who would help you with particular aspects of your business? Do you know another business owner that you could share some resource with?
As we grow our business, there will inevitably be things that we have to stop doing ourselves. We can’t do everything in your business if we want to grow.
Typically, business owners will outsource things like bookkeeping, administration, marketing and social media.
Outsourcing doesn’t mean you lose control – you keep the control but you have others who are experts in what they do doing these things for you and it gives you more time back.
Prioritise things that will help the business grow
It is so easy for us to be sucked into the day to day operations of our business and to let the important tasks that will help our businesses grow slip to the bottom of the list. So when you do your list each day of what you want and need to achieve, make sure that you include at least one task to help your business grow. Maybe put this at the top of your list and get it done first thing in the day.
Block time out to work on specific elements of your business
When you plan your day and write your list of what you want to achieve, do you block out in your diary specific time to get this done? I have found that this makes me very focused and means I am more efficient with my time that day because I want to stick to the schedule I created for myself. Sometimes other priorities will affect you working on things but you then consciously reschedule time rather than just letting it disappear without you really realising.
Set targets to do things by
Have you written down what the things are which you want and need to do to grow your business?
If you have, then putting dates you are going to do these by can help you to prioritise and focus on these things.
I also find that applying this approach to what I’m doing that day can help. If I’ve blocked out between 12 and 1 o’clock to write a blog, then I want to get this done within the hour rather than spending 1.5 – 2 hours which it might naturally do if I haven’t set a target.
Find new parts of the day to use
If we are already using all elements of the day then this may not be an option. However, for some it could be a case of getting up an hour earlier than currently and spending focused time on activities which grow the business. This is another 5 hours per week just created.
Or perhaps there is another specific point in the day when we can use the time better or stop doing what we usually do and replace it with time on business growth activities.
Chip away at larger tasks by using small chunks of time
One of the things our business coach says which stays with me is that when we think we haven’t got time to do something important that will help us grow the business, not to be overwhelmed by the amount of time we think we need to free up to do it. It’s amazing how much you can get done in an hour of focused and uninterrupted time so just to get started.
So these are some of our thoughts. There will be many other things which you have used in your business to free up your time. We would very much welcome your comments on this blog and to hear your feedback and ideas on what has worked well for you.
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