Everyone wants to accomplish more in less time, and not many of us will truly master time management. Some people spend too much time on certain tasks, others procrastinate and some waffle.
These personal efficiency idiosyncrasies are likely here to stay, but what we can change is some of the big time sinks that make a huge difference in how much we and our small business can accomplish. Here are some common time-sucks and some changes you can make to increase your productivity and ultimately, save you money:
1. Long meetings. Face-to-face meetings allow you to create personal connections, brainstorm and strategize all in the same room. But for some meetings, I believe in using technology to save time. Online conferencing, real-time collaboration and other tools can complement face-to-face meetings and help you save time and money.
For example, use online video conferencing to preview material. Seeing facial expressions will help you gauge the reaction of your audience. Then make changes before your presentation, thereby reducing the number of visits you have to make. Need team input before kicking off a critical project? Rely on collaboration tools to collect and integrate feedback, rather than using a meeting.
2. Searching for documents. Rarely can we consistently get our hands on exactly what we need as quickly as we'd like. Whenever I start an e-mail to my team that says, “Can you help me get my hands on …” I resolve to do better.
The cloud may be the solution to this problem. With your documents in stored online, you can access them at any time, from wherever you are and through whatever device you are using.
3. Sharing documents. Similar to finding documents, sharing them with greater ease is another key productivity improvement. Most of us have sent or received the wrong version of a document. The time wasted figuring that out and getting the right document can add up. Instead, keep documents in the cloud and share them with your team. Each person is then able to work on the same document–in real time, if you choose–and the version problem goes away.
4. Group calendaring. E-mails asking for team availability for a call or meeting are a thing of the past. You and your team can help save time and aggravation if you can see each other’s calendars and set up and move meetings with ease.
5. Valuing your time. Understand the cost of your time and the time of your team. Invest in the technologies and services that can help you stay in touch and enable you to make decisions quickly. Even if business class is more expensive than flying coach, the Wi-Fi might make the cost worth it if you can spend the flight working. Upgrade phones for continual connection and access to all of the features that your team needs to complete their work with ease. Part of making the most of your time is to recognize the value of each minute and making sure you can move work tasks forward when you need to.
Alice Bredin is founder and president of Bredin Inc., a marketing consultancy that helps Fortune 500 firms develop profitable, long-term relationships with small and medium businesses. She has advised millions of business owners over the last 20 years through her books, syndicated newspaper column, radio commentary and forums.
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