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Top Tips to Dramatically Improve Your Time Management

It happens ALL THE TIME. You start the day with a specific to-do list, and then spend your time doing a whole host of completely different tasks.

Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. This situation is incredibly common, particularly amongst small business owners. Unfortunately, this very common practice can lead to stress, disharmony, and actually prevent your business from reaching its full potential.

So why does this happen? Nobody ever plans it that way, and even though most of us recognise that we are guilty of it sometimes, we cannot seem to stop it from happening again!

I recently put some thought into the matter, and came up with the following  reasons that have led me to this situation:

1.Unnecessary interruptions: I had someone in my office every thirty minutes asking me questions they already knew the answer to, or seeking validation on something they had done. I am a huge believer in having an open-door policy, but how many times can you explain to the same tech how to connect a relay to a starter?

2.Unnecessary meetings: I have been drawn into countless unplanned internal meetings only to realize, at the end of the meeting, that the team could have reached the same conclusions on their own.

3.Unnecessary firefighting: In order to fix a mistake, problem, or satisfy a customer, I have jumped into action by “doing what needs to be done”, often until late in the day in order to meet a deadline.

These are just three reasons that I have noticed from personal experience, and they appear consistently in survey responses from our customers. Your reasons may be entirely different, but I wanted to share some tips that are currently helping me to take back control of my day-to-day activities.

1.Track your day and document it: I know what you are thinking. I’m asking you to take MORE time out of your day that you just don’t have! But believe me, this is a critical step. In order to fix the problem, you have to identify the cause.

So set up a spreadsheet, calendar, or if you are a CUBE user, you can use your daily planner. Log what you do for every hour of your working day. Who you spoke to, what the interaction was about, what you achieved, etc. It might seem time-intensive, but believe me, when you look back after two weeks, you will feel empowered knowing where your time is going.

2.Create a plan to correct the problem: Looking back on your data, you will be able to identify the issues that are preventing you from focusing on what’s important.

You may find that your team requires training in a specific area, or that your business is suffering from a lack of procedures leading to inefficiencies. Or perhaps, you need stronger leadership within your team. Whatever the issue, your efforts in step 1 will allow you to identify it.

3.Break the cycle: In many ways this is the easiest step to complete, but we find it is the one that business owners rarely take.

Through step 1 and step 2, you have a clear understanding of what is happening within your business and what impact it is having on your own time. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT! Take positive and definitive action to address the issues you have identified. Implement training where there are knowledge gaps. Create clear lines of communication and procedures that mean you are not required to affirm every tiny decision. Empower your employees by delegating more responsibility. Whatever the issue is, it will not solve itself.

We hope you find these tips as useful as we have!

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