If you could find a way to do 24 hours worth of work in 12 hours without compromising quality, would you take the chance? I have yet to meet the entrepreneur who'd say no.
Time is the most precious commodity in business and in life. It's perhaps the only thing everyone wants more than money. The typical entrepreneur has so many ideas, objectives to reach and goals to achieve. And our insatiable disposition makes it seem as if there never is enough time to accomplish everything we want to do. Even if we had a 48-hour day or could finish two days' worth of work in only one, time still would elude us.
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Obviously, we can't create more time. We can, however, manage and employ it in ways that ensure we'll meet our objectives within the allotted span. Time-management skills essentially are abilities that allow entrepreneurs to have our cake and eat it, too. Here are a few tips to help increase productivity through more effectively using the time you do have.
1. Give off a time-conscious aura.
No one will perceive you as a time-conscious person if you don't behave the part. In all your communications, set a tone that lets people know you take your time very seriously.
Whether you're on the phone with a potential client or investor, sitting in on a top-management meeting or leading a briefing for general staff members, set your time limits and stick to them. This will protect you against prospective “time thieves” and make sure that you always perform at optimum productivity. Directly or otherwise, demand the same attitude from your employees. Leave no team member behind as you foster a culture of time responsibility and action that will force colleagues always to bring their “A” games.
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2. Assign responsibilities to your staff.
Work-sharing is one of the oldest time-management principles. Because it stills work today, it seems like the logical place to start. Every perceptive 21st-century entrepreneur knows how to delegate work employees according to employees' strengths and ensure they come up with the best result.
It's no different than football, really. The quarterback — this is you — needs other players to clear the path, so he or she can focus on the ultimate task: leading the team toward the goal line. You shouldn't be spending your time looking at every business process and trying to instruct everybody in what to do. Find trustworthy employees and hand over these time-consuming tasks. Then, commit your attention to scouting for investors, sitting in executive or management meetings and generally seeking ways to directly grow the business.
3. Set your business to autopilot.
Advances in technology have made it possible for entrepreneurs to automate business processes and operations that otherwise would steal chunks of time from them and their employees. Invest in software to help you automate all your business activities that are undertaken repeatedly, perhaps every day. There's no point wasting precious time manually repeating the same tasks. It's slower and irresponsible within the context of time management.
Automation systems and software exist for nearly every facet of your business operations. You might use HootSuite to manage your social-media marketing campaigns, HubSpot to inspire informed marketing strategies, Advance Systems to handle employee-management issues and MailChimp to push out email-marketing messages. You need some — if not all — these systems to help your business operate seamlessly, with as little interruption as possible.
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These software solutions have another advantage, too: You can function effectively with a smaller staff strength than you'd need if you handled all these processes manually. Over time, this alone has the potential to save your business a great deal of money.
4. Prioritize your responsibilities.
No matter how many tasks you have to accomplish, some will be less important than or even contingent upon others. Form the habit of making a list of your daily responsibilities in order of decreasing priority. Assign a duration to each according to this priority level.
If you've already built a culture of time responsibility, this step shouldn't be difficult. At the start of each day, go through your to-do list to make sure that you've planned properly. Cross items off the list as you perform each duty. Assess the list again at the end of the day to take stock of your progress, determine which items require adjustments to their allotted durations and decide which tasks should be taken off the list entirely.
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Following a strict schedule, prioritizing, automating processes and delegating responsibilities enables your business to operate seamlessly so productivity can hit the roof.