A lot of the time-management tips out there deal with eliminating waste in your daily procedures. They give you ways to cut down procrastination or how to increase your speed in getting through your tasks for the day.
But these tips miss out on the biggest time-saving question there is – should you be doing those tasks at all? The real key to running your business at full speed isn’t getting through every single job at breakneck speed – instead your focus should be on figuring out which jobs you should be doing, and those that you should be cutting from your personal schedule.
Tip 1 – Schedule a Goal
First off, schedule one or two big goals for your business as a whole. A year from now, what is one major accomplishment that you would like to see achieved by your firm? Mark that goal on your calendar in big bold letters 365 days from today.
Now break that big goal down into a series of smaller goals, scheduling them one after another in reasonable increments. Put those on your calendar too.
You’ve now just narrowed your focus down to where you should really be putting your energy. All of those milestones you’ve just marked down are your next big due dates. Having these deadlines means you’re going to have a much clearer vision of what you should be working on and what is extraneous.
Share these deadlines with your crew. Checking off one of these milestones gives a huge morale boost, and if everyone in your firm has contributed, you’re going to have a healthy bit of teambuilding built right into the process without any extra effort on your behalf.
Throw a little party when you check off a milestone. Throw a big party when you reach that major one-year goal. And then repeat.
Tip 2 – Delegate
Delegation can seem kind of obvious from the outside looking in. But for some people, especially those who have built up their business right from scratch, letting go of any of the day-to-day details can be nerve-wracking and even a bit painful.
But giving into those fears and doubts is holding back your firm’s growth. If you’re running around trying to get a finger into every pie then you’re not spending time accomplishing your big goal. In other words, you’re not growing.
Still not sure? There has to be at least one thing that you groan at doing, a task that is just a total drag for you to do. Give it away. Someone is going to love A) having the work, B) being trusted with the responsibility of caring for your baby, and C) they’re going to become more invested in your firm since they now play a larger part and carry a bigger responsibility.
You’ll be amazed how much lighter your day will feel. And you’re still there to course-correct as your trusted delegate gets into your established workflow.
Now take a look and see what else you can delegate. We bet you can find more than one item on your checklist.
If you’re currently a one-person shop and you’re not sure you want to initiate the financial and time-sink risk of hiring someone on then take a serious look at outsourcing – it’ll save you an immense amount of time and money.
Tip 3 – Spend Less Time Talking About Doing Things and More Time Actually Doing Them
Some meetings are absolutely essential. Others, not so much. It’s time you figured out if your meetings fall under the first category or the second.
Here’s one way you can find out – put a hard time limit on how long a meeting can last. Initially you might have to spend a few post-meeting minutes in one-on-one sessions with employees who weren’t able to get all their points across in time. But the idea here is with that time limit in place they’re going to start to think about condensing their info so they can get it across in a faster fashion.
If you have multiple employees, rotate who gets to go first. The people first in line are initially going to take longer because they don’t feel as much pressure. But when they end up last in the next meeting, they’re going to see how detrimental to the team as a whole it is when they take too long.
Get them used to the “elevator pitch.” This is a show-business term describing how if a writer or producer meets a studio executive (the person with the money) in an elevator they can pitch a movie in the time it takes for the elevator to get from A to B.
So show them how to make their own pitch, and then if you need more information you can give them more time or talk to them one-on-one later. But you’ll be surprised – the more practice you all get, the more informative those pitches will be, getting more info across in a smaller amount of time.
Going further, you need to ask if certain meetings are necessary at all. Can everything you’re going to say be said in an email? Or do you, as the boss, have to be in on every meeting? Departments aren’t necessarily going to need you there for every info-swap session. Just get someone to shoot you a quick summary.
Set the Right Example
The more your people see you, the boss, focusing in on what really matters to get you to your next milestone or big goal, the more they’re going to emulate you. Your whole team will become a time-management master, not because they’ve cut down on procrastination or have upped workflow efficiency by one or two percent, but because they’ve learned to work only on what truly matters.