Learn How to Make the Most of Your Time
With the second half of 2018 in full flow, there’s a valuable opportunity to take a look at your time management techniques. Effective time management skills are essential for modern SMEs, as if the right structure isn’t in place, your business will suffer. This post highlights the practical actions you need to do to get organised and make the most of your time.
First up, it’s important to acknowledge modern working life is hectic. Ultimately, if you work yourself into a situation where you’re burnt out this isn’t good for anyone.
You need to manage your stress effectively and knowing how to manage time is a huge part of this. Some of the ways to reduce stress are highlighted in the points below this one, but the general focus should be to maintain a solid work/life balance.
Simply put, work hard, but ensure your downtime is just that. You want to fully recharge, unwind, and spend time on your hobbies or with your family. It’s recuperation time. But if you want to overcome any lingering stress issues, the NHS has some excellent tips to get you back on the right path. In the long run, this can help get your life and time management heading in a much more productive direction.
Streamline Your HR Department
The more efficient your HR department, the more productive your business will be. If you’re still using filing cabinets, that’s an outdated approach that can be easily simplified. You can wave goodbye to paperwork with online HR software. It can:
- Manage absences—monitor holidays, sick days, and accumulated late time.
- Plan shifts and rotas with scheduling tools your whole team can use.
- Store staff data in one secure location in the cloud.
This technology is particularly useful for SMEs, who will find it makes record keeping much easier. The result is a huge amount of freed up time, with the added bonus of knowing you won’t lose out on the inner workings of your business.
Use a Project Management System (PMS) & Time Tracker
If your business isn’t using a PMS, then it’s certainly time to start. Regardless of whether you’re a team of 10 or 100, it’s essential to know where everyone is up to in their respective departments. Trello is an excellent option—it’s also free.
Major businesses might want to fund enterprise level software, such as Jira and Confluence. This also provides the chance to time track every task being worked on, so you can have a weekly overview of how your time is spent every day. This can help you improve on your daily running.
Meetings remain a problem for many businesses, and get in the way of effective time management. It’s tempting to have too many of them just for the sake of it, but many turn into protracted experiences. This can be demoralising and counterproductive. As Entrepreneur Europe noted, they can “suffocate” productivity and morale. It stated: “If you are spending more than 20% of your time in meetings, you not working fast enough and upsetting employees.” The answer is simple—only have meetings that are essential, but only invite staff members who really need to be there. It’s become too much of a business trope to lose time in endless meetings, so take a progressive approach, free up a lot of time in the process and engage in effective time management.
Screen Phone Calls
Most businesses receive an enormous amount of cold calls and sales pitches. You may even have your trusted clients ringing you before important meetings when you want to finish for the day or take your lunch break.
Cutting out these disruptions can keep you focused on your job. You might want to invest in some call screening software, use your receptionist to filter out nuisance calls or rely on a willing staff member to answer calls for you.
Take Proper Breaks
It may be tempting to perform heroics and battle through your working days without taking a proper break. Ultimately, it’s counterproductive.
The UK government’s advice on employment law and rest breaks is clear—you should take at least 20 minutes at lunch to unwind and do something you enjoy (catch up with the news, listen to some music, read the book you’ve been putting off picking up etc.).
However, you should also take a five-minute break once an hour. This will give you a break from your computer screen (if you have an office job, that is), but will provide you with a break to allow your mind to recuperate.
Delegate and Outsource
Some projects don’t need someone from your in-house team to complete. It’s important to remember we’re in an interconnected world with remote workers ready and waiting to take on new tasks, so you can easily bolster your staff with the occasional freelancer.
If you have a project that needs a web developer, copywriter, or web designer, then head over to a site like Upwork. You can easily find the right worker for your task.
This can be an enormous time saver in the long run and also gift your staff with time to focus on their existing projects. Think of it as the delegation of work to the right employee at the right time, which can reap huge dividends in the distribution of your business hours.
You don’t need to get draconian on your hardworking staff, but some websites have a tendency to promote time wasting. Social media services are the main culprit, so you may be tempted to add in blocks on sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
If your employees make it clear they’re unhappy about this, ensure they have full access to their accounts during downtime. In other words, let them know they’re free to do as they please during their breaks.
Try out the Pomodoro Technique
Finally, if any employees are really struggling to stay productive, then you could try out the Pomodoro Technique. As explained on the official site: “We race against the clock to finish assignments and meet deadlines. The Pomodoro Technique teaches you to work with time, instead of struggling against it.”
In short, you can work in 25 minutes bursts of activity. Focus on your most urgent task, but then take a brief break at the end of that time to unwind. Then it’s back into another 25 minutes of work.
It can be life-changing for some employees and has the capacity to control, if not eliminate entirely, procrastinating helping you to form new habits. It’s a tool that establishes discipline, which could be exactly what you need to keep your daily routine on track.