1. You’re responding, not innovating
Putting petrol into the tank is essential, but unless small business owners turn the ignition and press the accelerator, they’ll never get anywhere. If you’re spending more time responding to issues, it’s time to rethink your approach to work.
For ultimate productivity, try the Pomodoro technique. This approach is about breaking down larger tasks into smaller time-sensitive tasks. It’s about concentrating your efforts on one activity for short bursts of time.
2. Expectation management
The reason you’re constantly putting out fires is because you’re always available. And you’re always available because those are the expectations you’ve set. If you’re constantly answering the phone at any time of day, people will ring you expecting an answer.
To regain control of your time, re-evaluate and adjust your current expectations. When the phone rings and you’re engrossed in a task, ignore it. Dedicate a specific time for checking your emails. Reschedule that meeting.
3. You’re failing to delegate
Small business owners are heavily invested in their business, and for good reason. But delegation is the easiest thing you can do to regain your time.
‘A classic sign of insufficient delegation is that you are working long hours,’ explains Carol Walker, president of consulting firm Prepare to Lead. ‘You feel totally indispensable, while your staff isn’t terribly energised and keeps strangely regular hours.’
And then there’s the ‘self-enhancement bias’. Put simply, business owners don’t delegate because it detracts from their worth, or they’re self-confident and fear being upstaged. But to free up your time, you must trust those you’ve employed to deliver the work. After all, why have you hired them if you’re not putting them to use?
4. You say yes to everything
Meetings. Phone Calls. Coffees. Lunches. You say yes to it all. After all, one of these things could lead to a new client and consequently, more cash in the bank.
But if you’re worried you don’t have enough time in the day, it’s because you’re saying yes too much. Jason Fried – the co-founder of Basecamp – famously shared his calendar, which consisted of the occasional meeting and a phone call, but mostly, it was full of time. Time to think about innovation and push the boundaries of his business.
Unless you’re Elon Musk and are willing to work 100-hour weeks, start saying no and focusing on the work at hand, not the bureaucracy that comes with it.
5. You haven’t embraced technology
There’s no excuse for this one. Zapier, IFTTT, Xero, Turbine… the scope for automating your workload is huge. Accounting, HR and admin can all be done by machines or, at the very least, outsourced to virtual assistants.
By cutting out the non-vital ‘essentials’, so to speak, you can regain your time and concentrate on what matters most: driving the business. Try the 80/20 rule to improve your compartmentalisation and consequently, your productivity. Known as the ‘Pareto Principle’, this approach to business is about focusing on the core 20 percent of your workload (the stuff that matters) and removing the 80 percent of distracting work that stops your growth.
There’s no financial excuse, either
Deploying automated technology across your business is now inexpensive. Many applications adopt a no strings attached subscription model that gives you the flexibility to cancel at any time. We even offer our users one month free. To trial Turbine for 30-days and regain some of your time, visit our website here.