As you start the New Year, it’s worth thinking about how you can achieve more every day. Your business likely relies heavily on you, so it makes sense to optimise your time as best you can.
Here are some quick tips for getting more out of each day, and making sure you’re spending time growing your business (or doing other useful things — you know what they are).
1 - To-do lists
It sounds so obvious, but starting each day with a list of objectives and priorities is a great way to go. While your mind is (relatively) clear and fresh in the morning, spend some time mapping out our goals for the day. Mark them off as you complete them.
2 - Delegate
Try to make sure that work is being carried out by the best person in the organisation. ‘Best’ doesn't just mean ‘available’, either.
Don’t hesitate to offload work to others who can accomplish it better than you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you need to do everything. Trust others. After all, a large part of being a leader is hiring great people and then making sure you don’t get in their way.
3 - Stand-up meetings
Perhaps this technique is overused, over-quoted and now utterly cliché, but the spirit remains absolutely true. Limiting meetings to no more than 30 minutes or holding them as ‘standing’ meetings can save a lot of time.
Don’t get caught in the trap of wasting hours each week holding meetings that could be equally effective in half the time.
4 - Be ready to say no.
As the leader of a small business or startup, you’ll feel like you’re responsible for everything. In some ways you are, but don’t let that stop you from saying no.
Sometimes you just can’t do everything for everybody, all of the time. That’s OK. Learn to decline, delegate or refuse.
5 - Stop looking at your smartphone!
Apple et al. have done a wonderful job of bringing innovation and capability to our pockets. In theory, they bring immense productivity too.
Sadly, it’s all too easy to flick through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a news page or two, and 30 minutes have evaporated before your eyes. Work hard to put your phone away. Ban it for a few hours at a time, unless it rings. That’s OK.
6 - Ration email
Similar to the comment about smartphones, email can also be an enormous time-eater. In fact, for many people email is one of the largest drains on their productivity.
The solution is simple. Ignore your emails between certain hours. Be pragmatic about it, but don’t feel you have to slavishly check, recheck and respond every 10 minutes. If anyone really needs you, they’ll likely call you.
Intra-office email has almost wiped out the tried and tested medium of…conversation with your staff and co-workers. Try it. It’s amazingly efficient.