By Don Amato
Wasting time is a luxury small business owners can’t afford. When you’re trying to grow a company, you need to make the most of every minute and think strategically about the way you work. That’s why it’s so important to cut out time wasters. Believe it or not, there are some tasks related to running a business that waste more time than you even realize — so when you find ways to change or eliminate those tasks, you go a long way towards improving your efficiency.
Here’s a look at some of the top time wasters in business and what you can do about them!
1. Spinning Your Wheels
It’s all too easy as a small business owner to get revved up about new product ideas, new marketing strategies, partnerships or PR events without thinking through what they’ll deliver. It’s also easy to overextend yourself in the process. The problem is that spending a great deal of time and energy on projects that yield little to no profits wastes your time. Try focusing your energy on the handful of projects that can yield the greatest return instead.
2. Overemphasizing Social Media
Social media is great and all, but, by itself, it probably won’t be the thing to keep your business going. If you’re spending all day reading tons of feeds, crafting Tweets and Facebook updates, trying to gain followers and surfing the Web, stop and ask yourself what the payoff is. Is social media bringing you new business, or is it just wasting your time? If it’s the latter, cut down on the time you spend on it and focus elsewhere.
Procrastinating not only wastes time, but it also wastes energy — and unfortunately it’s a hard habit to quit. But the fact is, you don’t need the added stress of rushing things at the last minute, so if you’re in that habit, stop. Instead of delaying tasks, plan for them. Organize your time. Take the time to sit down and evaluate everything that needs to be done, prioritize and then schedule accordingly.
4. Getting Distracted
If you’re in the habit of responding to every text or social media mention as soon as your phone dings, you’re in the habit of wasting lots of moments that add up to significant time in the process. Instead, try blocking out periods of time each day where you put your phone away or close your personal email. By focusing on the task before you, you’ll minimize typical interruptions.
5. Holding Meaningless Meetings
Meetings can be productive or they can be a total waste. So before you head to the weekly Monday meeting with your team, ask yourself why you’re having it. If the meeting doesn’t have a clear purpose and a set of goals, skip it. You’d do better to identify what you’re hoping to achieve and how you’ll achieve it than to waste your and your staff members’ time.
6. Being Disorganized
Organization is a key to efficiency, and that’s as true of the way you organize your product inventory as it is of how you organize your schedule. In either case, when there is no clear structure and strategy behind your methods, you will waste time trying to locate what you need. So for your products and files, use clear labels and organization systems to make finding things simpler.
If you’re unsure of which areas are sucking time away from you the most, try this exercise: keep a time log for a week and track everything you do, from checking email to taking phone calls to attending events. At the end of the week, look at what percentage of your time is going towards which ventures. Then, work to get your priorities and your time usage in line. By finding ways to make your work more efficient, you streamline operations and make it easier to move forward. Pay particular attention to the time wasters above as you get started!