One resource limitation that all business owners face is time. Although science has yet to develop a way to add more hours to the day, it is possible to get more from each one. Here are four ways to beat the clock:
- Prioritize activities only you and your staff can do.
Many companies outsource functions outside their core areas of expertise, such as payroll or taxes, to focus on activities that add the most value to their business. Delegating tasks shouldn’t be a luxury reserved for businesses that have achieved a certain size or level of success.
Hiring experts to handle functions in which a business lacks knowledge — say, designing a website or drafting a contract — frees up time for more mission-critical activities. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to outsource interacting with your customers or providing the products or services you’re known for. But engaging outside providers to support these functions may be a good idea.
- Put goals in writing and tell others about them.
Taking time to write down goals and provide progress updates can help you reach them. Consider a study by Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University of California. More than 75% of participants who put their goals in writing and sent a friend weekly progress reports either accomplished them or were well on their way by the study’s conclusion. Just 43% of those who simply thought about their goals could say the same.
- Forget multitasking.
For time-pressed business owners, multitasking can seem like an answer to a prayer. In theory, doing two things at once should double productivity. But, in reality, the quality of one’s work can suffer when switching between tasks.
Researchers at George Mason University examined essays written when subjects were left alone, and when they were interrupted. They found the quality of the essays, as measured by word count and number of ideas conveyed, decreased among participants who were interrupted.
These findings can apply to any projects requiring creativity or complex thinking. Typically, people need to immerse themselves in an activity until reaching a natural stopping point.
- Make meetings productive.
To avoid meetings that eat up time, and produce little benefit, verify whether they’re really needed. If information simply will be exchanged, e-mail may suffice.
If a meeting is necessary, draw up an agenda and distribute it beforehand. Instruct everyone to come prepared. And keep the attendee list as small as possible.