Productivity and time management are essential factors for any business. At times, it's easy to be overwhelmed with little tasks that take up so much of our time and productivity. However, we all have a way of working out the situation to achieve maximum productivity. We asked entrepreneurs and business owners how they maximise time running their business.
#1- Using Teamwork App
As the CEO of a digital marketing agency, I maximize my time by using the project management tool: Teamwork. Not only does Teamwork help my staff stay organized when it comes to staying on top of upcoming deadlines, recording their time, and compiling all client correspondence in one easy-to-review place, but it also saves us a lot of time on training and onboarding. Teamwork allows you to set up templates for specific tasks, such as creating a new web page, or writing a blog post. This allows me and my current team to document the steps we take when completing these tasks. Then, when we have new employees, we are able to cut down on time needed for training because everything has been saved as a template with links to helpful resources. We're also able to tweak the templates as we move forward if we've discovered more efficient ways to complete the tasks.
Thanks to George Schildge, Matrix Marketing Group!
#2- Take Breaks, Don't Cram Every Moment with Tasks and Meetings
There are days that I stare at my calendar and think to myself when am I supposed to get work done with all these meetings and tasks? When life starts to feel overwhelming, and you don't know where to start to actually be able to move forward, the best first step is to take a breath and then assess the situation. What do you need to feel productive? Declutter your workspace, take a walk, make a new cup of coffee, call a friend or colleague, or take a mental health day to recharge. Research shows that humans have a finite pool of cognitive resources, and when I exhaust mine, I feel less productive the next day. But when I allow myself some space to breathe, I'm more efficient with my tasks. Sometimes, giving myself some breathing room means not taking that thirteenth meeting in a week when I have other project work that needs to get done, or it means allowing myself to have a cocktail with friends before going home and possibly checking email for the evening. There are endless tasks and to-do lists, but don't let yourself get burned out on them and instead try to focus on the bigger goals and how the tasks fit into them.
Thanks to Heather Wentler, The Doyenne Group!
#3- Use a daily Action List
This is different from a To-Do List as it only contains the actions you are actually committing to do today. Ideally it's 3-5 things – each of which I expect to take less than an hour. Breaking down large tasks into smaller actions is a key part of this tool. Then I work in sprints. Focus on one action at a time and don't stop until it's done. I reward myself with a coffee or 10 minutes on social media or email in between.
Thanks to Fiona Adler, Actioned.com!
#4- Use Google Calendar
I am a pretty busy professional running a successful company along with having family and friend obligations and hobbies and chores to handle as well. To keep my business and social priorities running smoothly I rely on two things my google calendar which can be shared with my spouse, it can also be color coded to separate chores and different appointments, etc and my second thing I rely on is my planner pad. These two key items keeps my days running smooth. Like I tell my clients, schedule everything, if it is written down you will do it. Schedule even fun things, hobbies, golf dates, parties, etc. Rely on tools to keep your business and your time on point.
Thanks to Lisa Gessert, OrganiZing.buzz!
#5- Aligning our ideas with our mission statement
I maximize my time running my business by making sure our ideas align with our mission statement. If they don’t, I move on. I also believe in the importance of having a “Do Not Do” list. In the beginning, I was the guy that tried to do everything on my own. As I’ve grown, I’ve definitely learned there’s a lot of value in networking and building relationships. The relationships that I’ve formed are what’s opening doors for the future. Learning the art of delegating tasks has helped me today – I wish I knew that in the early years. Having processes and procedures in place is very important for developing these traits in the world of business.
Thanks to Brandon Chopp, iHeartRaves!
#6- Sticking to a schedule
I try to do a schedule and stick to it like working out in the afternoon and Writing in the morning. And I also put my podcast on my schedule so that is how I maximize my time.
Thanks to Win Kelly Charles!
Outsourcing is the key to saving and maximizing your time as a business owner. There are tasks that other people are better-suited for. Finding people to complete those tasks for your business will ultimately allow you more time for larger scale decision-making and planning, while also increasing the productivity of your business. Outsourcing is a smart and effective business decision when a specialist can perform the task better, you need more time for higher-level planning or more important tasks, and/or when outsourcing is cost-effective. If you're unsure if it's cost-effective, try your best to estimate how much it would cost you to complete the task yourself and then research how much it would cost to outsource the task. Determining how much the task is worth to you will also keep you from overpaying.
Thanks to Simon Slade, SaleHoo!
#8- Fix It First
Our top solution for saving time as a CEO is in our systems design process. When we are adding a new business process the CEO or a top-level employee does the process first. That executive then knows the process and can design a systemized methodology for it. They are also in a better position to decide what skill sets each part of the process needs and properly assign that task. When something goes wrong down the road they know they process well enough to very quickly solve the problem by adjusting the process Entrepreneurial types hate this process so it takes discipline. Most won't do it. But in the long run, it saves loads of time and keeps the company moving forward rather than getting stuck. Without systemizing, companies stagnate when putting out fires reaches a point where it takes the majority of the top executives time. We take the time upfront and avoid this.
Thanks to Liz Weaver, Learning Success!
When it comes to maximizing time, I think the most important word is efficiency. How can you make your time answering emails the most efficient? Sending packages? Responding to customers? Taking care of financials? My go to method is to create a list from urgent to non, stick to it, and allot times for various activities. If the first thing on my plate is to send out the 4 orders that need to be shipped, then nothing short of an emergency is going to pull me away from the task at hand. This allows me to rid my mind of any clutter that may be bouncing around, and focus 110% on getting those packages out the door. Cross it off the list and move on. It's important to delegate certain times to various projects, because, as we all know, when one item on the list gets crossed off than 3 more seem to get added. Put down the phone, stay away from emails – they'll bring you back every 10 minutes if you let them. You can apply this to every aspect of your life as well – workouts are time for working out, not socializing. Meals are times to reflect, read a little, or talk with family and friends. Successful multitasking is a myth we all have pursued that ends up hurting us in the long run. Create a list, prioritize and respond efficiently, that's the secret!
Thanks to Ricky Marton, Be Robin Hood!
#10- Segmenting my day and delegating
It's all about getting clear on what needs to get done and making it a challenge where everyone involved gets to show up and pull their own weight. I'm a mother of 5 running a hair salon plus dealing with a product line now available on a national level. The kids are all handled and know how they need to show up so we all run smoothly. Dad helps a lot. I maximize my time by segmenting my day and delegating. I have someone managing inbound marketing requests and more business dealings while I'm active at the salon hands-on with my clients who I love. Then when hair appointments are done I am briefed on what key things must get done regarding the product line. Mindset is everything! I empower my team and my kids to rise up and see themselves as an important part of the big picture.
Thanks to Maya Smith, TheDoux Salon!
#11- Tracking tools and delegation
To maximize my time running my small business I use a mix of time tracking tools and delegation to freelancers, for all the work that is not my core competency. My favourite time tracking tool is Toggl. Its one-touch time tracking makes it easy for me to start tracking my work quickly. For finding freelancers, I create a very clear and thorough job post then post it on Upwork. Both of these approaches make me more efficient and allows me to produce the best work for my clients.
Thanks to Jacklyn Deans, Flash + Color!
#12- Focusing on high-impact activities
Your time is your most valuable asset as a business owner. To maximize my time, I make sure I'm focusing on high-impact activities to grow the business. It's easy to get caught up in the weeds, but sometimes you need to take a step back and see if you're using your time effectively. In addition, I've found it helpful to create daily checklists to keep myself focused on what I want to accomplish each day.
Thanks to David Pike, The New Startup!
#13- Time blocking and time management
I do three things specifically. First, I try to only work through my email three times a day – morning, midday and end-of-day. We've all been there, feeling like we just email all day. It's a complete time suck. Secondly, I reserve my mornings as much as possible for deep work. This means I really don't schedule meetings or calls until after 12pm, unless time zone need to be accommodated or there aren't better alternatives for important meetings. If possible, I also try to keep one day every two weeks completely free of meetings. Lastly, during my non-meetings times, I block of a set amount of time to work on priorities. This means priorities have a dedicated block on the calendar, and I very literally put those blocks in my calendar. This has had a major impact on my ability to work efficiently and effectively, which ultimately saves time.
Thanks to Kate Brodock, Women 2.0!
I plan in advance, monthly, and then I divide my workload per week and again day by day, on the basis of how much energy I have on a given day. So there are days when I do more than the usual working day, and days when my health issues take over and I do almost nothing. I try to not stress on any day of the week and to let creativity and motivation flow freely, both driving forces that help me get into the ‘deep work zone' and boost my productivity. I try to leave the marketing and administration tasks for the days I have less energy and motivation to do things. Until I meet my monthly goals, I do let the inspiring muse run free!
Thanks to Luana Spinetti
One of my keys to maximize my effective time is to communicate in ways that optimize how we get to a solution. That means getting into the chess master mindset and thinking ahead. For example, when trying to schedule a time with a client, prospect, employee or supplier, I offer several alternatives for time (and occasionally even for place). That makes it easier for the other person to respond with a solid time, because it helps avoid scheduling conflicts on the first try, instead of going back-&-forth by email. Similarly, I do my daily planning before checking my email. That allows me to avoid having somebody else set my priorities for the day.
Thanks to David Radin, Confirmed Instant Scheduler!
Firstly as an Entrepreneur, always plan your week in advance every Sunday knowing what your outcomes are for the week & each day to come, but also why they are the outcomes. When you become clear, focused and specific on the target with laser like precision while knowing the motivation behind each objective, you can find the most fastest and effective route to achieve your goals while feeling inspired. Too many people waste time being busy instead of productive. Focus on your controllables and the 20% of activates that create the 80% of results in your business and you will own the time you have.
Thanks to Raghav Parkash, Raghav Parkash Coaching!
#17- Two ways
Create processes and templates: Over the years, I have realized that setting the right processes is essential when running and scaling a business. Since I have an online business where I do a lot of content marketing, I have many processes in place – such as creating an editorial calendar, following a content creation and promotion checklist, conducting keyword research, doing outreach campaigns, etc. While it took me some time to have these processes and templates in place, now that I have it, it saves me hundreds of hours every month. Hire and train a Virtual Assistant: While I did everything myself when I started my online business, it is important to delegate stuff in order to scale it. Getting a VA to work for you can be tedious if you don't give them relevant training. I find it best to create training videos and share it with my VA. Now if I want him/her to learn something, I can easily refer them to the video. In case I hire someone else, I don't need to spend any extra time in training, as the same videos would work.
Thanks to Sumit Bansal, Productivity Spot!
I try to find creative ways to multi-task that incorporates work and exercise. Instead of meeting up with your local colleagues at a coffee shop, over a meal or chatting with them on the phone, meet them for a walk so you can catch up while you are getting some exercise too. You'll feel great after, the time will fly & it will be a fun activity to share. It works with customers too, I have clients who play golf so sometimes we meet at a driving range instead of the office to discuss things especially when you are trying to think outside the box. I also always have a pad, pen, trade journals and articles with me so if my meeting is running late and I have some time to kill before they show up I can get caught up on the latest happenings or write a blog post or article while I am waiting.
Thanks to Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls!
How do you maximise time running a business? Tell us in the comments below. Don't forget to join our #IamCEO Community.