Who doesn’t wish they had an extra hour in the day? No matter how many to-do lists and the tools you use as you prepare for each day, things never seem to go as planned. Unexpected tasks pop up, meetings drag on, and problems occur throughout the day that prevent you from accomplishing every you set out to do. Before you know it, it’s 5 pm, and you have more unfinished items on your to-do list than you started with. Today, we’ll share 5 time-saving hacks to get more done with your time.
As an entrepreneur or small business, you know that husbanding your resources is the key to success and time is among the resources in the shortest supply for any business. You likely wear several hats since you can’t afford to hire talented employees to perform all the necessary tasks so managing your time and prioritizing your day spells the difference between success and failure.
As tasks pile on your list and you can’t clear your list by the end of the day, you find yourself working longer hours; working through weekends and holidays until you collapse in a pile of stressed nerve endings. And, like my avatar, you need more beach time just to start functioning normally.
In fact, leadership studies show that, as stress increases, you pass the point where you optimize productivity, resulting in both poor performance and an increased probability of making mistakes. Check out the curve below to demonstrate how performance suffers as demands increase beyond your capacity to meet them.
If this curve accurately depicts your work-life balance, don’t panic. There are ways to have more time in the day while still accomplishing everything you need to keep your business working lie a well-oiled machine. The key is better time management. Thus, the problem often isn’t that there aren’t enough hours in the day; it’s that you’re not using the time you do have effectively.
Here are five time-saving hacks to make the best use of your time and supercharge your productivity.
1. Work out your peak performance time
When you read about top business leaders’ routines, they all seem to wake up at 6 am and start working before most people have even got out of bed. These hours before distractions reduce productivity are seen by business leaders as a critical time to operate a peak performance.
If you find yourself trying to emulate this early start but snooze through your alarm or hit the snooze button so many times your partner threatens to kill you, maybe 6 am just isn’t for you. Instead, organize your day around your own peak times for focus and when you’re firing on all cylinders, cognitively speaking.
Everyone has different ways of working and different times of peak performance. For instance, some folks are “morning people” who thrive on early morning without the need to set an alarm, while others only hit their stride at 10 pm when the earlier risers are toddling off to bed. If you tend to work better in the evening, use this to your advantage. There’s no reason to force yourself to be a morning person. Simply work out your peak performance time and use these hours to maximize your productivity. You’ll find many undistracted hours after everyone else is in bed.
2. Eliminate time wasters
If you pick any workday and dig deep into how you used your time, you’ll undoubtedly spot many areas for improving your time management. Try to eliminate as many time wasters as possible without sacrificing time spent in casual conversations and team-building with employees as these seemingly unproductive efforts are critical for team cohesion, spark innovation, and throw off some of the stress involved in other activities.
Google recognizes the many benefits of such “water cooler conversations” and constructed their workplace with multiple pods, each containing casual seating groups and refreshments to encourage such conversations. Not only does the company use communal spaces to encourage collaboration, but their workspaces also feature private areas for rest and stress-relief and areas for games like basketball and table games.
Eliminate other non-productive time-sucks such as:
- browsing social media (unless your job entails managing digital media)
- sending unnecessary emails
- sitting through pointless meetings (if the pandemic taught us anything it is that much of this time is wasted)
- allowing non-productive interruptions, each interruption requires more time to get back on task
- multi-tasking, which means you aren’t productive at either task and must redo your work
- constantly checking your in-box
- checking news sites
In fact, experts estimate the average employee wastes an hour a day. If you want to claw this time back for more mission-critical activities, you need to take steps to avoid falling into these time vortexes.
- Limit meetings to 45 minutes instead of an hour or hold them standing up to minimize chit chat and get straight to business.
- Email is a classic time-waster, as it’s often tempting to check your inbox every five minutes and become distracted by each new thing that pops up. Schedule dedicated times of the day to check your emails so you can focus on the important jobs without breaking concentration.
- Chunk your day to group similar tasks together, which boosts productivity
- Invest in the right tools to do tasks with minimal overlap between tools
3. Invest in time-saving technology
No matter what business you are in, it’s worth investing in tools and technology that make your processes more efficient and save you time. For instance, if you work to produce content in social media use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance which reduces the time needed as you can schedule an entire week’s worth of posts in a few minutes. Work in the oil industry? Perhaps an electric waste oil transfer pump can save you time to focus on other areas of your business.
Chatbots are a huge benefit to businesses with customer service needs. Although adding a chatbot involves some expense and takes time to set up and manage properly, a chatbot both streamlines your customer service function while improving customer satisfaction in the process since the chatbot is always available to answer questions.
It doesn’t matter what tasks you do; sometimes a little expense is worth the resulting time savings.
4. Swallow the frog
Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” Translated into business-speak, this means that if you have a big job on your to-do list, you should get it out of the way first thing. People tend to procrastinate when they have an unpleasant job to do, and pushing it back to later just wastes more time, as you fill the time with less critical work or, worse, busy work.
Get your highest priority tasks done in the morning, and the rest of the day flow most smoothly as you’re free to work on more enjoyable tasks.
Similarly, when you have a big job that requires extensive periods of uninterrupted time, think about breaking the task into more manageable bits and working on those bits during your most productive time.
5. Time management
It goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it, you need time management tools to optimize your performance and it’s one of the most critical time-saving hacks we can think of.
The first rule of time management is to keep things organized so you can find things quickly. That goes for your computer files as well as records and even your office layout. For instance, keep your computer and printer close together to eliminate steps between them and keep printer paper near your printer.
The next step in this most important of time-saving hacks is to use software to help prioritize and organize the work on projects. Most projects involve multiple steps and multiple employees. Using software that allows everyone to see what still needs to be done on the project eliminates update meetings while ensuring the project meets its delivery date.
Using these time-saving hacks reduces stress, increases productivity, and improves coordination across your team. Take the time to learn more about each of these time-saving hacks and how to implement them in your firm to gain more time to your day — at least after the initial investment in implementation.
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