This is a tricky time of year for small business productivity because spring’s beauty is tugging at all of us. Birds chirping, baseballs flying and flowers blooming are distractions that we crave and want to enjoy. Yet, if we’re going to be successful business owners, we have to work, right?
Of course. But what if I told you that you could actually gain an extra hour each day to enjoy all that fun? When I first started my business, I worked a LOT. It didn’t take me long to realize that not having time for fun was NOT okay. Fun is a part of my weekly activities!
I suppose that that sounds like a wild claim to make, but here’s how it works. Statistics show that on average people spend one hour per day looking for “misplaced information.” Based on that fact, if business owners figure out what type of information they are regularly misplacing and address that problem, they can gain time each and every day.
Step One: Evaluate How You Waste Your Time
Savvy business owners begin by evaluating how often they waste their time tracking down these items:
1. Contact information. Do you have a system that allows you to accurately maintain your contact information? Do you have a routine for keeping the data up-to-date?
2. Receipts and expenditures. How do you file your receipts? How do you track the money you spend?
3. Office supplies. Do you always have a pen, pencil or stamp handy? Is your cell phone always charged and ready to go?
4. Paper files. Can your paper files be converted into digital files? Are there easier ways to store and catalog the information?
5. Inventory, marketing collateral, and materials. Do you have a defined method for organizing and locating merchandise, marketing collateral or materials?
6. The next step. Do you consistently find yourself pausing before diving into your next money-earning activity? Do you have trouble identifying what should be done next throughout the day?
Step Two: Develop Efficient Office Routines
Now that you understand how you’re wasting time, make a plan to adjust your work and schedule to deal with these time wasters. For instance, if you find yourself constantly searching for client phone numbers, invest in a contact management system and make sure that it syncs with all of your electronic devices. Then, establish a time of day when you sync your contact database.
Or, if you find yourself searching for office supplies throughout the day, make a list of the items that you need every day. Empty your top desk drawer. Refill it with these items and only these items. To support your easy-access approach, make sure to create a reminder to refresh the supplies, such as a reminder on your calendar
The key to successfully taming the “missing information” time waster is two-fold. First determine how you will better manage the information. Second, decide how you will keep up with your new plan going forward.
Understanding where and how you “waste time” in the search for information will allow you to put systems and routines in place to eliminate those time drains. Spend a few moments answering the questions above and make a note of where you are losing time. Ask yourself how you can streamline and adjust your systems to make them more efficient. Make more time for fun!