Have you built your small to midsized venture into a substantial business, yet still find yourself spending all your time running it like…a small business?
If you are still touching nearly everything that needs to get done, stop. You are limiting your business’s long-term success.
With the following 3 time management tips, you can turn your small business habits into Fortune 500 practices that will set you apart from the rest of the pack and increase your business success.
#1 BUILD AND DOCUMENT YOUR SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
Want to be really frustrated? Do this: repeatedly spend your valuable time (and money) undertaking a task or project that hasn’t been properly documented.
As a high-performing executive, you likely know what you’re doing 90% of the time. You know exactly where documents, images, and other needed assets are hiding. You know your canned email responses, where you keep track of your prospecting outreach, how incoming vendor emails need to be answered, where contact details for potential clients and current clients are stored, and why certain supply lists and ordering information must live in one folder rather than another.
Who else knows this crucial information, where it’s stored, why it’s undertaken in a certain manner, and how to leverage it all? If the answer is anything short of “my entire team has well-documented details and access,” you are in desperate need of systems and processes that can effectively move your business forward.
Knowing and documenting those systems and processes is really where the money is at, since well-documented systems and processes allow you to embrace the art of selling—which moves your business forward.
Beyond the obvious dollars and cents, it’s crucial to have familiarity with your business systems and processes so that you can identify your needs, plan strategically for the long term, and not lose your mind. When you document systems and processes, you gain a much needed sense of control while increasing your productivity and giving you a heightened feeling of accomplishment. Those are all important psychological aspects of success, and will dramatically reduce your stress.
#2 AVOID MULTITASKING and become an email batcher
Research and common sense suggest that multitasking leads to exponential losses in productivity and concentration in accordance with the complexity of the task involved. The solution: instead of chasing after everything that vies for your attention, train yourself to focus on top business priorities.
Having your priorities straight will increase your productivity, which is why most productivity enthusiasts advocate for tackling 3 tasks every day that you absolutely must accomplish. This practice streamlines your attention and reduces the temptation for distraction. When you have your 3 prioritized tasks, go a step further and schedule blocks of time on your calendar to accomplish those tasks.
So…what happens when you can’t help but get distracted by ringing phones, urgent instant messages, and employees asking for your help? Many executives choose to hire a virtual assistant to keep everyone and everything at bay, because our brains just aren’t awesome at multitasking. Others choose various practices like silencing their cell phones, blocking out “do not disturb” calendar time, and making sure all alerts and notifications (email, IM, social media, etc) are turned off during their focused time.
Side note on email distractions: email inbox issues are still considered one of the most challenging of all business-related distractions. Checking your email constantly throughout the day is counterproductive and is a form of multi-tasking. So, why not become a batcher?
Batchers deliberately limit the amount of daily time they spend checking emails, so they are significantly more productive, happy, and less stressed than their more reactive counterparts.
#3 DELEGATE AND OUTSOURCE
Outsourcing has its pros and cons depending on what is outsourced and what terms you set for your providers on the front end. Some tasks or functions are ideal for outsourcing to other companies or freelancers while some jobs are better kept closer to home. In any case, proper planning and collaboration can help you provide an optimal system that is a mix of outsourced and in-house efforts.
“You’ll know you’re successful when your company can take on the inevitability of forward movement without you.” – Eric Taussig, Prialto CEO and Founder
The highest performing executives delegate as many of their tasks as possible, which isn’t to say they find it easy to delegate—at least not at first. They are so used to touching every aspect of their tasks and processes that it can prove very difficult for them to hand over the keys. You likely feel the same way.
Since delegating is the best way for executives to maximize their ability to effectively handle multiple demands on their limited time, the best practice is to take on only those tasks that no one else but you can do—and delegate everything else.
Ask yourself: Does this task need to be accomplished? If no, throw out the task. If yes, decide if the task is crucial for you to accomplish or if someone else can own the task.
You really don’t need to do everything yourself. Make sure to free up your time for the tasks that you—and you alone—can do.
The above time management best practices are huge time savers with the potential to be even bigger moneymakers. The trick is to put them into practice.