As a small business owner, you’re probably intimately familiar with the feeling of always juggling endless tasks. Between administration, managing employees, marketing, chasing leads, taking care of clients, managing your web presence, and all the other activities that are necessary for business owners in our busy world, there’s hardly any time left to do whatever it is you started your business to do!
17% of the time at work is lost with people simply looking for things they need to do their job.
SEVENTEEN PER CENT!!
“Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin
When you consider the time taken for breaks, that percentage in real terms equates to about one full day of work time. It is spread out across tiny moments throughout every working week, but if you could add up all those wasted moments, you would find they are stealing a full day of productivity from each person at work. Dare I say it, even you!
When you look at it like that, it’s plain to see that developing systems that make it easy to find things saves time and increases efficiency. Effective time management is one of the most important skills for a small business owner. The best you can do is make sure your time is well-managed, so you can pack as much productivity into the time you have as possible. Making the most of every minute will reap significant rewards in your quest to expand your business.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING:
Put things away where you found them. This is a golden rule of resource management. If you’ve got more than one person sharing resources, you need to have things on the go readily available for quick deployment. This rule is essential when it comes to physical equipment. The amount of time that people spend looking for simple things like staplers, replacement printer toner, or important documents costs more time than you dare to imagine. Managing their storage and retrieval well will make such a difference.
To ramp up your efficiencies, throw out your shoebox filing system and commit to storing as much as you can online. You don’t need to have piles of notes, receipts, invoices and other such information. These documents can be electronically scanned and filed away for accuracy and efficiency. The time you use to spend opening envelopes, recycling paper, shredding sensitive information can be saved if you set up electronic access, and finding them again is a piece of cake when they are all at the click of a button.
Set up a simple online storage system so everyone can access what they need. Whether you have in-house staff or a team spanning the globe, the cloud makes data-sharing as easy as sending a link, eliminating the cumbersome process of emailing large files. If you make it a routine practice to back files up along the way, a centralised storage system will save you time going through individual computers to find a certain file, or look for a specific document from a piece of paper in your pile. With the time you save you could take on more work, or do less if you choose … spend more time enjoying the time bonuses you create.
Everything should be done in the original and there should only be one version. Working in the original document is my preference, but if you’re working in versions two, three or four, set up a specific folder that stores the older versions securely and without confusion. If something needs to be referred to, across other documents or other systems, then simply insert a link from where the information is needed back to the original file. Do not have multiple versions of the same document or information across different locations because maintenance is difficult, if not impossible. And confusion is a thief of time.
If you’re getting bogged down with endless tasks or find yourself feeling burnt out before the day even starts, it could be a sign that something is wrong with your current routine. There may be little you can to do make that to-do list go away, but the more efficiently you use every hour you have by developing systems for your business, the more successful you’ll be at managing those hectic days.