Time management can seem a never-ending battle for small business owners. There is so much to juggle with running the back office, developing all your policies and processes, running the day to day, sales, client meetings, the list goes on.
So how do you become as efficient as possible to make the most of the time you have?
First thing forget multitasking. It is not a thing. Humans can switch focus from one task to another extremely quickly, giving the illusion that you might be multitasking. Science says so. You are not able to effectively do more than one thing at a time, so stop it.
One of the things I used to teach my team was how to block out their day. The biggest complaint they would have was getting bogged down in email hell. Let’s face it, emails are never-ending, sucking you into a wormhole that keeps you from moving on to more critical tasks. We would sit and pull their calendar up to plan their day. Using the calendar as a tool and reminder, one can block out times in their day to spend only on specific tasks. And then when that time is up, you stop and move on to the next on your list. Resist the urge to answer email notifications by turning them off. This allowed them to dedicate the attention each task deserved while accomplishing things.
I asked our team here at High Rock what some of their favorites techniques and tools are:
Outlook – Outlook’s calendar and task management features help to organize our work. You can create to-do lists and prioritize work. There is also the ability to delegate and track tasks and send status updates to task owners. Melissa Diaz, CFO, says, “Outlook manages my overconfidence in my ability to remember things. I have people requesting time with me constantly, and I am always pulled in different directions, so trying to keep all of that top of mind is impossible. Having a robust calendar application allows me to plan my week as it evolves. I can look at the whole week, know what a priority is and what it is not. I can also make sure I have time for all of my clients by always being aware of what is coming up next.
OneNote – OneNote is a powerful information gathering, retrieval, and collaboration tool. I use this tool to keep track of research, organize my thoughts, and work through drafts. Our CEO, Liz Mason, says, “I use OneNote from my phone for prospect/client notes so I can ask about people’s kids and dogs by name and also remember important details about them and their businesses. My iPad notes that are handwritten also go into OneNote.”
Active Collab- Active Collab is used throughout our office as a project management tool. It provides the ability to track every stage of a project. Everything stays up to date, with each individual on a project knowing the updates and sharing feedback. There is a timing tool, so you can track time spent on projects and predict outcomes. Any billable hours can then be used to create invoices and can be sent directly from Active Collab. All projects are tracked and built out, as well as a to-do list that our team can add items that need my attention.
Slack – Slack is a powerful collaboration tool that can be used to help minimize emails and meetings. We use Slack both internally and with clients. All conversations can be organized, and you can quickly share files and have everything archived so they can be searched. Need to make a call? Not a problem, calls can be made right through the app from your phone or computer. Slack also allows tool integrations so you can see and make real-time updates.
Voicea – Ah, beautiful robots! Voicea is a Voice Assistant that transcribes and highlights your meetings, so you don’t have to. Your sessions can stay focused, have a better conversational recall, no missed details, and increase your follow-up efficiency. If you have a calendar like Liz Mason, this is the best way to keep track of all your meetings and call content.
5×50 Productivity Formula – Our HR Maven, Christina Morse, utilize this productivity formula by Brendon Burchard. It focuses on helping individuals make the most of their 24 hours by dividing them into 50-minute intervals. She says, “I struggle with juggling multiple priorities and becoming distracted between competing deadlines. Taking the time in the morning to intentionally set my 5, 50-minute blocks, and the specific item I will work on during that block helps me to stay on task.”
As a business owner, you can go beyond scheduling your day. Look at your processes. Are there areas where technology can help you be more efficient and streamline your processes? With so many solutions out there, it would be silly not to take advantage.