In our business lives, we hear the saying all the time. “Work smarter, not harder.” But, how many of us do it? Or for that matter, how many of us know what working smarter actually even means. The problem is knowing something and implementing it are two very different things. If you are facing this problem of knowing that you could be working smarter rather than harder, try the pointers below to help you get more productive with your time and create more profits overall.
Now you may not get to implement all of these ideas, particularly not all in one go. However, if you start with one and build on that, then you are at least moving forward.
Work on what is relevant and most profitable.
This may seem obvious, but what seems obvious is not always easy to implement. Do a self diagnostic test to see what takes up the most of your time, and you will likely find it is the part of your business that is the least profitable. It may be time to outsource that element, so it costs less time and resources and moves it off your plate. Or, you may just need a better system in place for getting it done faster giving you time to focus on the more profitable projects or components of your business.
Manage your projects more efficiently.
Once again, easier said than done. Still, you should try to build structure into what you are doing. Many people have so much going on in their day-to-day, that they are continuously jumping from project to project with little focus. What you should do instead is finish a task completely before starting another.
No, this doesn’t mean completing entire projects in one time period. I’m a realist and I understand that this isn’t possible for every project. What I do mean though is that you should chunk your projects down and complete an entire chunk at a time before moving on to the next chunk of whatever project you want to move forward on. Bonus points if you document where you left off on every project so that you don’t come back to it wondering what’s next!
Set deadlines for everything.
How many times do you set a deadline to get something done and make sure it is done? You have client deadlines I’m sure, but have you ever created self-imposed deadlines for yourself to ensure things get done in a timely manner? Doing this triggers a sense of need to get it done now, rather than allowing ourselves the “luxury” of putting it off until tomorrow. Just knowing you have a deadline regardless of who set it will inspire your brain to complete it now, not when it’s actually due.
We all know how much we can get done the day before we go on leave or a nice well earned vacation. Apply the same principle to what you do on a daily basis.
A simple starting point is to chunk down your top 5 tasks and create the deadlines you can set around these. The deadlines must be realistic, however. Otherwise you are going to burn yourself out trying to reach them, or you’ll do a piss poor job of accomplishing the tasks to the best of your ability.
Employ people that have strengths where you have weaknesses.
This is really about leveraging your time. If you are not good at doing something, but you still need it in your business, get someone else that is an expert in that area to do it. Then, let yourself get on with the next task in your business. You can either do this by hiring virtual assistants part time or full time, or by hiring contractors for one off tasks as frequently or infrequently as needed.
Manage time interruptions.
Think about the number of times you are trying to get something done that will help with the profitability of your business, when your phone rings or someone knocks on your door for a “quick catch up.” It’s imperative you become more structured in managing these interruptions. Let the phone go to voicemail and set aside time to return all the calls, for example. Ask people to book in time for you so you can manage your day, and not have their interruption mess up your entire schedule.
Remember, time management is not about trying to manage time; there are only 24 hours in a day. It is about managing yourself, your sanity, and the moving parts in your business. For some people time management is easy and effortless, but for many of us it’s a daily struggle. As you work on it though, you’ll build habits for better efficiency in your life.
Additional ideas for getting more done in your day include:
Activity Logs: If you often wonder at the end of the day where your day went, create an activity log to start logging how much time you spend on your various activities. Only once you know where your time went can you change anything.
To Do List: Yes, having a to-do list is important, but if you’re spending too much time on creating lists, you’re not going to get anything done. Keep them short and simple with your top 3-5 things you HAVE to get done each day, and then try to do them before you do anything else.
Create a schedule, and actually plan your day: Unimportant, but time-consuming tasks can end up consuming a lot of your time. Schedule your most important things first, and leave plenty of buffer time for each item. Prioritizing enables you to focus your time and energy on the important things. You can’t successfully manage and grow your business if you can’t successfully manage your time.