As we move into a new year most business owners, like everyone else, will naturally look back, then forward. We look back to observe what worked well, and what could have been better. Then we look ahead to see how to improve.
One improvement that is nearly universal is the need for more time. There are only 24 hours in each day and many people wish there were more; more time for business, more family time and more time to simply enjoy life.
So where can entrepreneurs find or make more time in a day? Here are four ways to start.
Streamline processes. The “keep it simple” standard is a good one to keep in mind. We often make things more complex than they need to be because someone has said it’s the correct way. But often the simpler ways work just as well and don’t require as much time. A good VA can take over many of those time consuming details, and can often teach you ways to cut unnecessary steps.
Use the right tools. Technology has developed many time saving tools and programs that can make both your personal and professional life easier and more convenient. However, they work only if you use them and use them properly. For example, do you spend a lot of time going to various sites to check email? Or do you spend hours trying to accomplish tasks outside of your expertise? The right tools can shave hours off these and many other routine tasks.
Set priorities. Learn to spend most of your focus and attention on the things that are truly important to your mission instead of wasting large amounts of energy and time on things that don’t really matter. Many of us fill out “to-do” lists with trivial details and busy work; things that either don’t really need to be done, or that could be more efficiently carried out by others.
Limit interruptions. Solo business owners, especially those who work or practice from home, can lose a lot of time because of near constant interruptions. Most of those come from outside sources but some are due to our own habits. Learning how to say no to friends and family who disrupt your working hours can reduce the stress that’s caused by getting behind in your work. Carefully managing time spent checking e-mail and not letting yourself become distracted by social networking can also help with this.
Get the right help. These and most other time saving tips you’ll find all boil down to one basic idea: Nobody can do it all. Just as you look for the right professional when your children get sick or your car breaks down, you should also know when and who to call on for other areas of your life. Choosing the right assistant can be the biggest time saver you’ll find.