Are you working hard? Or hardly working.
For entrepreneurs, there’s a lot of gray area in between those two, and it can be challenging to know how well you’re using your time. We’re used to multitasking and wearing different hats, which means it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane work that’s involved with running a business; keeping busy while at the same time neglecting those crucial tasks that are necessary for growth.
The problem with busy work though, is that it’s a distraction. It keeps you from spending time on those high-level tasks that are crucial for your business’ growth and development. By wasting time on smaller, less pivotal things, you won’t have the time or energy to devote to those aspects of your business that really demand your attention.
The question, then, is how can you ensure that you’re using your time wisely? How can you avoid spending your workday on tasks that don’t add value, or things that could easily be outsourced to someone else?
One word: prioritization.
In this article we’ll uncover some crucial time-saving tips for prioritizing that can help you to allot your time wisely, and get the most out of your day. I’ll also touch on some bonus tips for additional time savings that you may not have even heard of before.
Read on to see how you can save time on everyday tasks so that you can help your business operate more efficiently, enabling you to spend more time on things that you’d rather be doing.
6 Crucial Time-Saving Tips for Entrepreneurs
It’s estimated that busy entrepreneurs spend 68.1% of their time working in their company on operational tasks, specifically performing daily tasks. This leaves only 31.9% of your time for growing and building your business.
Whether you’re a startup, brick-and-mortar business, or running a web-based company, implementing time-saving strategies is essential.
Here’s a look at some time-saving strategies now:
- Set Clear Goals
Identifying your goals helps you stay on track during the work day. It’ll also save you from wasting your time on things that aren’t part of your big picture. Start by identifying your long-term, overarching goals; and then work backward from there, breaking them up into smaller, more short-term objectives.
For example, if you are wanting to increase sales then create a clearly defined goal that is both realistic and practical. Instead of making a general goal of “increasing sales,” try something more along the lines of, “increase sales by 10% over the next 3 months.” Clear and direct goals help you work towards a tangible benchmark. When you accomplish your goal you’ll also experience a sense of achievement, which can help you push toward setting even more ambitious goals in the future.
- Create a Plan
While creating a plan may seem like common sense, it’s something many struggling businesses and entrepreneurs fail to do. Consider using the Ivy Lee method to enhance both productivity and time management. It’s like a slightly more effective version of the classic to-do list. In fact, it might be something that you’re doing already.
This method suggests writing down a list of the six most important things you need to complete the next day. Prioritize the list in order of importance and complete each item in order before moving on to the next one. The benefit of the Ivy Lee method is that it allows you to have a clearly developed plan of attack when you arrive at work and prevents you from starting multiple tasks at the same time.
Entrepreneurs and business owners waste a significant amount of time trying to decide how to approach each day. The Ivy Lee method cuts down on decision fatigue, which occurs when you are stressing about what you need to get done and figuring out the best way to do it. Although the Ivy Lee method is over 100 years old, it remains one of the most effective time-management tools. Plus, it only takes several minutes to write down your six tasks, making it a fast and easy way to create a daily plan.
- Practice the 80/20 Rule
Another excellent time saving strategy is the Pareto Principle, which is commonly referred to as the 80/20 rule. The premise behind the 80/20 rule is that focusing on the 20% of your work which is most important is responsible for 80% of your positive outcomes. Simply put, “80% of results will come from just 20% of the action.”
In order to apply the 80/20 rule to your business, identify the most important tasks that you are responsible for. It’s actually a relief knowing that a significant amount of your business’s success is related to a small portion of your actions. While tasks can pile up daily which can leave you feeling overwhelmed, remembering to focus on the core parts of your business can help save both time and stress.
- Start Outsourcing
As entrepreneurs, we want to do it all. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Or that it’s the best use of your time. The truth is, having the ability to outsource enables you to claim back time that you can then spend on other things. Like things that you enjoy doing, or those high-level tasks that require your attention. Don’t let important tasks slide, if you feel that things are piling up, or beginning to slip, it’s time to think about delegating a few things.
- Create Time Limits
Another easy way to create more time in your day is to create tangible and concrete time limits for certain activities. For example, limiting phone calls to 5 minutes can decrease the amount of time you waste on small talk during calls and help refocus phone conversations to address important points.
Creating limits on the amount of time you spend in unplanned meetings or teleconferences can put a premium on your time, helping to ensure that others won’t waste your time. When people understand that you have allocated a limited amount of your time for dealing with unplanned tasks or requests, they are more likely to cut to the chase and directly address the issue without chit chat or beating around the bush.
Taking on too many tasks throughout the day can kill your productivity. Use your lower management and staff members to take care of administrative tasks and other non-essential duties. It is also important to not fixate on controlling all aspects of your business. The reason you have employees is because they’re capable of lightening your load. You don’t need to monopolize all of your responsibilities.
Bonus Time-Saving Tips You (Probably!) Haven’t Heard Of
While the above time-saving tips are tried and true methods and widely discussed, here are several major time saving methods that are less well-known:
- Get Smart With Social Media
The popularity of social media means that most successful businesses have social media profiles. Utilizing social media to engage with your clients and advertise your products or services is a highly effective and successful marketing strategy. While some larger companies hire full-time social media consultants, most small businesses and entrepreneurs manage their social media profiles themselves. But it’s important to make sure you don’t allocate too much of your time managing your business’s social media accounts. It can be very easy to spend hours scrolling or searching social media websites, but scheduling time solely to check and update your social media pages not only saves time, but also improves the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.
Social media use peaks at certain hours among specific demographics. Scheduling your social media updates for times when traffic is high among your target market allows you to more effectively run your social media campaigns and improve sales without taking up too much of your time.
Check out these: Helpful time-saving social media tips from Buffer.
- Back Up Those Files
Poorly-organized documents can lead to you spending hours searching for paperwork. One solution is digitizing your records. This means that instead of having to dig through filing cabinets, you can pull up important records or documents on your computer or smartphone. Not only does digitizing and backing up your files save time, but it also ensures you always have rapid access to important records whenever you need them.
- Take Breaks
It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s not. Taking short breaks every few hours may seem lazy but staring at computer screens for too long can strain your eyes. Sitting for prolonged periods of time without stretching out can also lead to cramping and discomfort. Taking even a 20-minute break every 3 hours can improve your productivity and energy levels.
Making sure you take short breaks throughout the day helps you stay focused and re-center, which improves your quality of work. Having a lunch break is also important. Getting the right balance of nutrients; fats, protein, and carbs can improve your cognition and concentration and increase your energy levels.
- Get a Place to Store Your Ideas
Having a place that you can jot down your ideas is helpful! So get a few helpful apps on your smartphone, and you’ll never have to waste another good idea. One good solution is to look for a recording app that allows you to easily record, and send your thoughts to the relevant parties. It’s a good alternative to time-consuming meetings.
- Use Analytics
Using analytics can show you what’s working, and what isn’t; helping to keep you from wasting time on ineffective methods and strategies.
Perhaps the most common type of analytics software is web analytics (Think: Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, etc.); allowing you to see how your visitors are finding and interacting with your website, and enabling you to measure conversions. But you can also use analytics software tools to streamline your inventory records or improve customer service. Between 2015 and 2018, there was a 42% increase in the number of businesses utilizing analytics. Overall, 59% of companies implement some form of data analytics because it cuts costs, saves time, and is highly customizable.
- Choose Your Connections Wisely
Everybody has someone who’s a drain on their time and energy. Whether it’s because they talk too much or don’t listen enough, certain people are prone to wasting time. In business, it’s important to prioritize the worth of your time and creating clear boundaries so your time isn’t wasted.
You may have a chatter-box client or co-worker who monopolizes conversations, leading to lengthy phone calls or conferences. It’s important to listen to others but not so important that it should prevent you from finishing your tasks. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to limit the time-wasters at work. Consider establishing time limits during conferences and meetings, such as limiting discourse on certain subjects to 3-5 minutes. This not only prevents your time from being wasted but also helps to teach others better and more effective communication skills.
Time-Saving Tools for Entrepreneurs
With technology becoming an increasingly important part of business life, learning how to implement and utilize time-saving tools can help improve your bottom line. Time-saving tools, many of which are either low-cost or free, can streamline administrative and payroll-related tasks. Learning how to make technology your ally can save you countless hours throughout the week.
And if you’ve already outsourced these tasks, these tools can help your team to save time if they’re not using them already!
- Payroll Software
Payroll software is a great way to save time. While payroll used to be performed by hand, payroll software makes it possible to automate many aspects of your payroll process. Payroll needs take up a significant amount of time. In fact, 26% of small business owners spend at least three hours a month on payroll, while another 11% spend at least 11 hours per month managing payroll.
Payroll software; like Quickbooks, Freshbooks, or Zoho Books, can track the hours your employees work and allow you to set up direct deposit. Direct deposit payments are less costly and more time efficient than paper checks. It also decreases your chances of making accounting mistakes, which can result in costly penalties from the IRS. Another benefit of payroll software is that it can decrease the money you spend on bookkeeping and accounting services.
- Scheduling Appointments
Using booking software, like Calendly, Doodle, or even Hubspot’s free scheduling tool, can save your hours of time throughout the week. While booking appointments over the phone can help build a personal connection with potential clients, it is both time-consuming and inefficient. Most people prefer scheduling appointments online or through email. Another benefit of using booking software is that potential or current clients can make appointments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Not having to waste time during the business day setting appointments allows you and your employees to focus on tasks that promote your business’ growth and future success.
- Scheduling Tools
Scheduling employees is time consuming, especially if you are still creating schedules manually. Scheduling tools allow your employees to input their availability. Instead of relying on hand notes or memory, scheduling tools ensure that you are able to see your employees’ availability in real-time. This helps avoid making scheduling mistakes, such as assigning someone for a shift when they previously requested that day off, as well as improves workplace morale.
- Online Calendars
It’s hard to remember appointments. Digital and online calendars and scheduling apps provide you with the ability to view your schedule on-the-go and set reminders. Many online calendars, such as Google Calendar, allow you to integrate your email, contacts, and schedule to ensure you never forget about an engagement.
Another benefit of using online calendars and planning tools is that it can decrease your stress levels. Adding your daily agenda to a calendar or planning tool ensures that you aren’t fretting about forgetting about an important conference, meeting, or phone call.
- Email Management Tools
Checking and sending emails takes up hours of your work day. More effectively managing your email account can save you a ton of time. Organizing your inbox into folders is a great start but if you’re inbox gets slammed you should consider an email management tool.
If you are constantly fretting about when someone will respond to your email, Mailtrack is perfect for your needs. This tool is a browser extension that lets you know when someone receives and opens your email. Inbox Pause can be a great tool if you get overwhelmed with emails constantly flooding your inbox.
If you hate having your inbox flooded by spam or marketing emails, Unroll.Me allows you to unsubscribe to multiple email lists at once. This program identifies all of the email lists you belong to and lets you quickly unsubscribe. This nifty app can decrease the strain on your inbox and help you focus on important emails.
- Integrate Your Apps: Zapier Zaps
Time is money and optimizing your time can help make your business more profitable. Zapier Zaps is an easy-to-use app that allows you to integrate multiple apps, such as Facebook and Google. They also give you the time-saving option of automating your workflow.
For example, if you always want to add appointments sent in emails to your Google Calendar, Zapier Zaps can do this for you automatically. Or, if you prefer all of your downloads to be added to a specific cloud like DropBox, Zapier Zaps can do this for you. So if you prefer Gmail for your email needs but DropBox for your cloud storage needs, you can easily combine both. You can also combine email lists from Gmail and MailChimp, which can make marketing emails much less of a hassle.
Another cool feature of Zapier Zaps is that you can create your own customizable workflow. Some nifty features include being able to post the same content on multiple social media pages at once and add Facebook leads to Excel sheets or Google Docs.
See this helpful article on getting started with Zapier Zaps.
Note: When it comes to outsourcing, looking to implement available software and tools should always be done before you offload the job to someone else. This will allow you to reduce the task to its most basic, simplified form; helping you to save considerably in the long run.
The best way to help your business achieve growth and long-lasting success is to better allocate your time. Focusing on the core goals of your business can make the difference between breaking even and making money.
Finally, at the end of the day remember, it’s not about just saving time, it’s about saving your time for a reason; ensuring that it’s being put to the best use possible. With the right approach you’ll soon be able to simplify or outsource the busy work, and focus your attention on your business once again.
Claim your FREE download: Make Your Business More Efficient. It’s packed full of helpful tips to help you save time, and outsource effectively.
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