time management Archives - TAB Corporate

4 Ways You’re Unintentionally Sabotaging Your Productivity

productivity

The Alternative Board conducted a productivity survey of hundreds of entrepreneurs to discover how business owners are really spending their time. While 76% of business owners reported above average time management skills, 85% admit to working over 40 hours a week. Do these results mean that business owners are not admitting to their time management shortcomings? The answer, most likely is no.

The hidden culprit is the productivity killers that business owners don’t even notice they’re wasting time on.

Today’s post seeks to unearth these time sucks and provide solutions for avoiding them. By making the actionable changes found below, business owners will be able to cut down the time spent working in their business, so they can devote more time to long term strategy, as well as their personal lives.

1. Working below your pay grade.

productivityA huge detriment to your productivity as an entrepreneur is wasting time on duties that can be outsourced – particularly day-to-day administration. These easily delegated tasks are very often what’s keeping you IN your business rather than allowing you to work on it.

With so many outsourcing and freelancing solutions available, hiring an assistant to take over these roles no longer requires a full time salary commitment. TAB Member Ron Loveland, CEO of Summit Business Solutions, recommends small business owners delegate administrative tasks to a virtual assistant. “When you go from doing everything yourself to affording an administrative person, there is a crucial step in-between,” says Loveland. “With a VA, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you have enough work for a person. They only charge you for hours worked, and if you go through a company like UpWork, they will take care of the W-9 form and any IRS reporting.”

TAB member Jay Eastland, Owner of Engineered Solutions of Georgia, advises that business owners devote their efforts to cultivating new strategic relationships, leading with vision, solving problems, and engaging with employees and customers. Otherwise, you’re wasting time, “running errands, writing checks, or trying to develop the website.”

2. Reactive Management

TAB’s time management survey also revealed that business owners are spending almost 20% of their time on tasks that are urgent, but not important. Waiting for a crisis to address gaps in your business is a guaranteed path to working IN your business for extended periods at a time – distracting you from precious long term planning.

One way to stay proactive is by ensuring you have a team in place for anticipated growth rather than hiring as you grow. “If you’re like most business owners, your organization has developed almost haphazardly. You’ve hired who you could when you could, usually in response to your most immediate capacity crisis – your most urgent need,” says Jeff Whittle, President of TAB Metro Dallas.” His solution? “Make hiring a priority – not a crisis. Ignore it, and you’ll end up with a jumble of ill-defined positions being filled by people not truly suited for the jobs they’ve been given. Get it right, and you add a new gear to help propel your business to the stratosphere.”

3. Resisting Technology

productivityWhile technology may temporarily slow productivity as you and your team adjust to it, the long term benefits are indisputable. For example, the Alternative Board’s 2015 cloud survey proved that 95% of business owners rate their satisfaction with cloud technology at or above average.

TAB Denver West President Blair Koch agrees “technology is crucial in our world today.” She recommends business owners adopt Dropbox for accessing important files, Streak for tracking email opens, Evernote for organizing customer notes, CamCard or Scannable for uploading business cards, and Salesforce.com for keeping track of customer relationships.

4. Poorly Managed Meetings

Ineffective meetings are notorious time wasters in the business world. To improve meeting productivity, TAB Member Rick Maher, CEO of Effective Human Resources, suggests limiting meeting invites to those specifically involved in the topic of conversation. “The biggest mistakes leaders make when they hold a meeting, especially in a group setting, is they focus or discuss issues that only affect a small number of people. It leaves the rest of the team twiddling their thumbs, and the value of the meeting is lost rather quickly.”

The Alternative Board UK’s Jo Clarkson adds, “If your meetings are valuable, well run, and achieve the planned outcome, people will make it their priority to turn up! Schedule regular meetings well in advance, so there’s no rescheduling and no excuses.”

Improving your productivity begins with identifying where you’re losing time. Be honest with yourself and admit when you’re being stubborn and when you’re refusing to let go of the reins. If you can’t quite pinpoint where you’re losing time (but know you’re losing it), other business owners – who have been there and done that – can help.

The Alternative Board puts you in touch with fellow business owners in non-competing industries who face the same challenges you do every day. Their experiences of overcoming obstacles very often hold the answers to your business’s biggest setbacks. Contact a local TAB board if you’d like to meet with other executives who can help you identify time wasters, boost productivity, and advance your business.

 

5 “Timeless” Tips to More Effectively Manage Your Time

iStock_000017987518Large_Spiral ClockBusiness owners may understand intellectually there are only 24 hours in a day, but the frenetic pace at which they lead their lives suggests they hope, somehow, to find more.

This is often the case with leaders who don’t manage the time they have, either because they take on too much and always feel hopelessly behind, or because they allow others to “steal” time away from them.

Whatever the situation, time is every leader’s most precious commodity. It’s essential to manage it as effectively as you can.

Here are six “timeless” tips for meeting this urgent objective:

1. Multitasking is not an efficient use of time.

Busy isn’t the same thing as productive. Every time you interrupt one activity to tackle another, you sacrifice a certain degree of focus. It takes more time to regain that focus when you return to the original task.

“While ‘multitasking,’ your brain is shifting from one task to another—back and forth,” notes entrepreneur Jean-Luc Brisebois. “You may think you are doing all the tasks at the same time but you really aren’t doing them well. The human brain is simply not made that way.”

2. Practice a strict “Do Not Disturb” policy.

Business owners who keep an “open door” to employees soon learn the limits of this well-intentioned policy. If no limits are set, this is just one more in a never-ending series of interruptions—texts, emails, phone calls, social media, etc.—that suck up time and leave little or nothing to show for it.

Of course you should maintain lines of communication with the people who work for you. At the same time, you’ll maximize the limited time you have by shutting out all distractions during those periods when you must concentrate on the task at hand.

For a set period of time, close the door to your office. Don’t take any calls. Don’t reflexively respond to every email that appears in your inbox. All those things will be waiting for you after the top-priority task has been completed.

3. Overcome a tendency toward perfectionism.

Working on a project or initiative until you think it’s “perfect” is a time-consuming luxury you can’t afford. It’s more strategic to do the best you can and then move on, as opposed to endlessly tweaking and sweating all the minor details.

“Perfection-induced stress, anxiety, and frustration aren’t doing your overall health any favors,” writes business columnist Ilya Pozin. “You’re probably spending far more time at work than necessary and thinking about work when you’re not there.”

4. Reserve time for your creative side.

Being a leader involves more than putting out fires all day. Your business requires a strategic vision, as well as a fresh, creative perspective on the challenges and opportunities coming your way.

Look at scheduling your day around your most creative time—when your mind is sharpest and you’re more inclined to confront the big issues or focus intently on a strategic plan. If your creative side is stimulated by discussions with others, set up meetings aimed specifically at brainstorming and strategy, not the nuts-and-bolts stuff better left to others.

5. Use downtime to recharge.

When he’s flying from one location to another, Phil Libin, CEO of the note-taking software firm Evernote, doesn’t try to cram in more work time. Instead he “uses his time spent on planes to catch up on video games, watch movies, reading books and taking that long nap during a particularly busy day.” Always working leads to burnout. Taking time to recharge is an efficient way to be more productive later on.

Business owners can’t control everything that happens around them. But they can take charge of how they manage their time and get better results, both in their business and in their lives.

Can you work fewer hours and still be a successful leader? The answer is ‘Yes.’ Learn how becoming a TAB member will help you balance your professional and personal life.