For many small business owners, if they have one consistent issue, it would be that there is simply not enough time in the day to achieve all the things that need to be done.
Have you ever got to the end of the day, having worked your socks off for the entire day, and asked the question “what on earth have I done today?” If the answer is yes, then the next question is “how many days per week do you get this feeling?”
So, what can you do, in an office environment for example, to free up some time for productive and focussed activities?
Do Not Disturb (DND)!
By far and away the simplest technique to create time is to ensure that you set time aside for you to carry out the tasks on your “To Do List”.
We have all heard employees announce, “I have so much to do; I am working from home tomorrow”. This is an example of putting yourself into a DND mode to allow you to complete tasks that are on your list.
Why is this so? All too often we come into our business premises with a list of tasks that we intend to complete. The telephone rings, customers and suppliers want time, fellow employees come into your office also seeking your time, and emails and correspondence continues to flow onto your desk, and without blinking a chunk of time has passed.
If you meet with your team and agree with them that this is the case for many of them, then it makes sense to agree we need to do something about it.
One recommendation is to switch the office into a DND mode for typically 1 to 2 hours every day. Setting aside that valuable time will really help you tick items off that ever growing to do list!
The DND mode includes no external telephone calls coming through to employees, no internal telephone calls, no disturbing employees internally, and a discipline to switch off emails other than for those relevant for the “To Do List” of the individual employee. Many businesses rotate their DND time amongst their employees.
The net result of this is that people get more of a sense of achievement at the end of a day, and this often results in a feeling of satisfaction and far less stress.
Here are some other time saving tips that might work in your business:
- If you have ever found yourself thinking “it is easier to do it myself”, then maybe try and discipline yourself not to do so and delegate (and, if necessary, train) where at all possible. There is a fine line between delegation and abdication – supervision is required when one delegates, and feedback is helpful so you can keep control of the process.
- If you have asked somebody to do something, there has to be an assumption that this will done be unless you have been told otherwise. It is a mistake to allow anybody not to tell you if they can’t do something that has been agreed to be done. It is important that you include timeframes for when this works needs to be done by. This may sound obvious, but the research is quite clear; there are too many occasions where things just simply do not get done despite requests, and it can be very time consuming to redeem the position.
- We all receive too many emails and it may work to traffic light ones that need action by creating separate folders or even rules within your inbox:
- Delete emails because they are not relevant;
- Please read but no action required; or
- Action required.
- The “One touch” only rule – in the ideal world the best efficiencies come from reading an email or letter once and dealing and responding directly to the customer. To have to re-read is generally considered inefficient.
- Don’t laugh, but if you have a chair in or around your desk, people will sit in that chair. If people sit in a chair the discussion will take longer than if they are standing – so, do you want to have a chair for people near your desk?
- Lastly, it’s always worth looking at how many meetings are in your diary and whether they are all necessary. Could they be grouped together if they’re with the same people? Or would an email be enough? Reducing the amount of meetings you have will free up time.
By trying some or all of the ideas listed above, you, as an employer, could create an additional amount of productive time which may also improve employee confidence.
We always stress to our clients that we are more than just accountants, and we enjoy sitting down with them to discuss their wider business challenges, and how they can be tackled. Finance is our bread and butter, but we can offer so much more. We’re accountants based in Lincolnshire, but have clients based all over the UK, so if you want to discuss your business challenges over a coffee, get in touch.