For athletes, the smallest change in performance or routine can mean the difference between failure and winning gold. They’ll try anything for a split-second advantage – swimmers; for example, shave their body hair to react better in the water, gaining valuable milliseconds. This small change makes a massive difference to their performance.
Olympic athletes and small business owners are constantly fighting the clock, trying to conquer time and find success. And just like an athlete, you can help your business compete better through effective time management.
Here are some simple changes you can make to gain effective time management and productivity. You won’t even have to shave your legs…
1. Keep your eyes on the prize – learn to say ‘no’
How often do you say ‘no’ in the workplace?
It might seem counter-productive, but sometimes ‘no’ is the best answer. By prioritising important tasks you will get more done, and you’ll focus on what you have to do and not what you think should do.
If saying no is hard, a good method is to learn to use ‘don’t’ instead of ‘can’t’. For example, it’s better to tell yourself that you don’t check your email in the morning than it is to say you can’t. Studies suggest this minor change improves your ability to not engage in an activity.
2. Tools of the trade – use technology to your advantage
We live in an age dominated by technology. So why not use it to make your life easier?
You can improve your workflow by using software to save time and money. Some options include:
- Cloud storage, such as Google Drive and Dropbox. You can store your files and access them anywhere, from any device, making mobile working a lot easier.
- Password management software. With this, you’ll spend less time managing access to your business’ apps and programs. It’ll also make it easier to create and remember stronger passwords.
- Business automation software. Achieve effective time management by using software that takes care of those time-consuming admin tasks. This includes accounting software, programs for managing paperwork and single sign-on technology.
3. Planning your day – training for the big leagues
Any athlete serious about their sport would never approach an event without training. Why should you be any different? Plan your day in advance and take time to pinpoint the most important jobs that need doing. By doing this, you cut down on ‘faffing’, which saves you precious time.
In creating your plan, you need the right equipment and the right attitude. How much time do you waste doing admin or going to meetings? One large company was wasting $15m a year on a single management meeting according to a time-budgeting study by Bain & Company. Combat time wasting by turning down pointless meetings, spend less time answering inane emails and get on with work that truly matters.
You can easily plan and manage your workflow with task management software, too. There are a number of free packages such as Bambam, hiTask and Meistertask. At the upper end of the market the most popular packages are Basecamp, Issuetrak and Wrike. Never find yourself unsure what to do next. Make a plan and keep one step ahead with your business.
Scaling Olympus – taking your business to new heights
Improving your business through process change is often a hard sell. It can seem too difficult, and you may not have the energy or inclination to carry changes out. But, effective time management and making small changes to the way your business operates will get you well on your way to the dizzying heights of Olympus.
But on the hard days, where you need to dig deep to implement a policy that will improve your business, remember the words of artistic gymnast Gabby Douglas:
The hard days are the best because that’s where champions are made.
Remember: you are a champion too.
[Hat-tip to VangelisB for the header image]