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Tips on Making Up a Lost Hour

We lost an hour this weekend because of the switch to Daylight Savings Time.  If you are like many small business owners, you need more hours every day, not less. 

Here are a couple ideas on how to get that hour back and build a more successful small business while doing so.

1)  Learn to use the tools and systems you have to their full capacity.  Whether it’s Word or Excel, or HootSuite, so many small business owners could save themselves so much time and effort if they would just take the time to learn how to completely utilize the tools and systems they already have.  I am constantly amazed when I talk with small business owners who have trouble keeping track of appointments, deadlines, and heavens! billing, and yet they have the software that could make it a breeze.  They just don’t know how to use it, or they don’t know what is available.  

One such tool is Microsoft Outlook. It is so much more than an email management system (though it’s good for that).  My good friend, Bob Cich, of Priority Management will actually come to your office and train you and your staff on how to use all the bells and whistles of Microsoft Outlook.  How awesome is that? 

2)  Another area of Bob’s expertise is organization.  He does a seminar titled  “Organize or Agonize” which basically says it all.  Spend the time to get organized today and you’ll save that lost hour over the next few weeks just by being able to access your resources quicker.

3)  Make a list of all the tasks you should perform weekly and daily and SCHEDULE them on a calendar.  I can’t stress enough how important it is to actually schedule time — and stick to your schedule.  But WAIT — before you put them on your calendar, take one more step:  Sort these tasks into “like” activities.  For instance, in my business, I typically have these weekly tasks:  client writing, client research, client promotions, client consultations, new client prospecting, online business promotion, telephone calls, new business development, business writing.   When I sort them, I have the following activities: research, writing, telephone calls, promotions, and prospecting.

When I first take on a new small business consulting client, I create a list of all the tasks I plan to complete for that client.  I used to schedule my work based on each client.  For instance, for many clients I have to conduct research into a client’s product or service and then write blog posts or articles to support their business.  I also need to promote their business by creating listings in directories, posting comments in forums, sending Tweets and such.  I also help them with offline promotions, so I sometimes design flyers or brochures for them.   I used to pull out my client task list and do all of that day’s tasks for that client, then go to the next client and do that day’s tasks.  What I discovered was that I was doing the same activities over and over again.

I had a productivity break-through when I switched from client-based to activity-based scheduling.  I can get two or three times more work done in the same amount of time by focusing on the “activity,” not the client.  For instance, I will now block out a couple of hours to do nothing but research.  I will do research for all of my clients at once, not just one.  While I’m researching, I’m not checking my email, I’m not randomly surfing the web.  I’m focused on finding information and downloading or saving it for reference later.  After the research is done, I’ll schedule a block of time dedicated to writing the blogs and articles.  During my writing blocks, I don’t chat with friends on Facebook, I don’t make or answer phone calls.  If I have done my research thoroughly, I have no reason to go online until my writing is done.  For me, when I’m on a roll, I can write fast and furious and if the research is already done, I can zip through client work.   

Activity-based scheduling has been proven to be one of the most efficient methods to increase your productivity. I highly suggest you try it.  You may be amazed at how much more work you can get done in  day.

Sometimes, fresh eyes can see where you are wasting time.  I recently met with a gentleman who was complaining about not having enough hours in a day to get everything done, yet during our one-hour conversation, he pulled out his iphone and texted at least 3 people.  Not only was it rude, but it was telling me exactly why he’s not efficient.  If that’s you, you may want to consider only checking messages once an hour, not every 5 minutes. If you need someone to help you organize your tasks and suggest some tools and processes that could make you more efficient, let me know.  I would be glad to help.

As always,  here’s to your success,

Trina

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2 comments

  1. Melody B

    Great post, Trina and perfect timing!

  2. Teresa Cleveland

    I’ve been meaning to reply but…hold on…

    Ok, I’m back..had to tweet about this bird on my deck & invite all my friends on facebook to look at the picture I took of the bird. Just kidding!

    It does take a bit of discipline, doesn’t it Trina? I think you are a pro at being able to see the big picture and help people put things into a perspective that makes it much easier to handle all of the little details.

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