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10 Time Management Hacks Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

10 Time Management Hacks Every Entrepreneur Needs To Know

Entrepreneurs lead a busy and overwhelming life, whether you’re just starting out or already leading a company – you know how much your time is worth to you. But do you know where your time goes? Turns out, most people don’t, we all end up staring at our phones way too often and wondering just how we spent all day working without really achieving much. With life getting out of hand daily, everyone wants more control over their time. This is where time management comes in, a topic much raved about but still rarely practiced. Here are ten tips to get you started:

1. Track your time

The more you know about where your time goes, the more you’ll be able to hold yourself accountable. If you’re into time sheets, block out your day in a notebook and start writing down what you spend time on. If however, you’d rather save time tracking time, try one of the time tracking tools available out there and finally get a sense of your time. Time management expert, Laura Vanderkam suggest tracking all of your time for a week (precisely, 168 hours) to get a better sense of your habits. It’s a great start and the results are bound to dazzle you.

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2. Stop guesstimating

Now that you’re tracking time, you have a lot more insight into what tasks take the most of your time and how long certain tasks take. Set goals for every week and try to estimate how long will these take to accomplish. Your goal for next week will be bringing estimates as close as possible to reality. If you’ve ever worked in a management position, you know how hard it is for some people to estimate the time it’ll take for certain tasks. Now, try it for yourself and don’t worry if you’re way off – you’ll get better, that’s what time management is about anyway.

3. Plan ahead

Apparently, every minute you spend on planning saves you at least ten minutes in execution. If this sounds too good to be true – try it for yourself. Start your week on a Sunday, grab a pen and paper and think thoroughly about everything you want to achieve this week, think about bigger goals but also try to line up the steps needed. Make sure you’re ready to start work on Monday, rather than spending your morning trying to figure out where to start from.

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4. Make a smarter to-do list

Don’t just list our everything that needs to be done and expect to cross things off the list as they come. Organize your list by priority, make your goals realistic, and set a daily focus for each day of the week. This will help you clear your head and make your to-do list a bit more bearable, it also will help focus and stop wasting your time on reorganizing the list.

5. Batch related tasks together

Since focus is key to productivity, be smart about the things you choose to dedicate your time to and what time of day you spend on these. If you try managing your company internal stuff while emailing investors and discussing new feature requests, you’re bound to lose focus on at least one if not all of those things. So try to divide your weekly tasks in categories – internal, fundraising, development etc. Your brain can’t do context switching full time, try to keep focus on similar tasks to stay on track and save time.

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6. Schedule time for interruptions

You have a team of employees depending on you, you have a hundred unread notifications on your phone, you have meetings that require follow-ups, and the cleaners also need you to let them into the parking lot once they arrive. You’re an entrepreneur, you get interrupted a lot. This is why you should never schedule your day 100%, make plans for being interrupted. This might sound counterintuitive make sure you to optimize your schedule so the interruptions don’t disrupt your entire workflow.

7. Make use of prep time

Whether it’s a meeting or a phone call – anything that might go on forever and eat out your time while you helplessly try to get back to work – plan it out. Make an agenda for every meeting or phone call you have scheduled, make sure you lay out the goals you want to achieve with this, start with an introduction to everyone involved, be a leader of every conversation you’re in, and once everybody’s gotten what they wanted from it. Start with your exit strategy and don’t let small talk take over.

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8. Take breaks

Contrary to popular belief and modern business culture, breaks are not a waste of time. Breaks help restore focus and give you a fresh start for any task you have on hand. Be generous to yourself and take breaks often, don’t let the feeling of burnout get to you. Whether it’s a walk to the nearby park or a quick round of Candy Crush, you’ll feel refreshed and as good as new when back to work. Alternatively, try the Pomodoro method and see how it fits into your workflow.

9. Make use of incubation

Incubation, in terms of psychology, is one of the four stages of creativity and it starts when you’re not actively thinking about whatever problems need solving or ideas you’re trying to develop. Don’t think about work all the time. I know it might seem hard for someone that is supposed to always be working toward their goals but you’re actually more likely to get new ideas and think of solutions to problems you’re facing when you’re not actively thinking about the solutions. Many entrepreneurs boast about not taking weekends off or bringing their work home. The truth is you’re far more productive when not constantly keeping busy.

10. Calm down

Have you ever noticed how time goes by so slowly when you just calm down, clear your head and stay in the moment? Yoga, meditation, mindfulness are all methods of taking back some control over present, rather than planning for the future or thinking about the past. However, you don’t have to turn into a zen guru to feel the moment. It’s enough to try and not think about anything for a few minutes, enjoy a view, play with a pet, enjoy artwork or simply gaze at the sky. Be present and don’t let your time be taken over by the numerous distractions of the modern world and you’ll be happier and more productive in no time.

Featured photo credit: Stokpic – Business Woman via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

14 Ideas on How to Measure Productivity to Make Progress

Everyone has heard the term productivity, and people talk about it in terms of how high it is and how to improve it. But fewer know how to measure productivity, or even what exactly we are talking about when using the term “productivity.”

In its simplest form, the productivity formula looks like this: Output ÷ Input = Productivity.

For example, you have two salespeople each making 10 calls to customers per week. The first one averages 2 sales per week and the second one averages 3 sales per week. By plugging in the numbers we get the following productivity levels for each sales person.

For salesperson one, the output is 2 sales and the input is 10 sales: 2 ÷ 10 = .2 or 20% productivity. For salesperson two, the output is 3 sales and the input is 10 sales: 3 ÷ 10 = .3 or 30% productivity.

Knowing how to measure and interpret productivity is an invaluable asset for any manager or business owner in today’s world. As an example, in the above scenario, salesperson #1 is clearly not doing as well as salesperson #2.

Knowing this information we can now better determine what course of action to take with salesperson #1.

Some possible outcomes might be to require more in-house training for that salesperson, or to have them accompany the more productive salesperson to learn a better technique. It might be that salesperson #1 just isn’t suited for sales and would do a better job in a different position.

How to Measure Productivity With Management Techniques

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to fine tune your business by minimizing costs and maximizing profits:

1. Identify Long and Short-Term Goals

Having a good understanding of what you (or your company’s) goals are is key to measuring productivity.

For example, if your company’s goal is to maximize market share, you’ll want to measure your team’s productivity by their ability to acquire new customers, not necessarily on actual sales made.

2. Break Down Goals Into Smaller Weekly Objectives

Your long-term goal might be to get 1,000 new customers in a year. That’s going to be 20 new customers per week. If you have 5 people on your team, then each one needs to bring in 4 new customers per week.

Now that you’ve broken it down, you can track each person’s productivity week-by-week just by plugging in the numbers:

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Productivity = number of new customers ÷ number of sales calls made

3. Create a System

Have you ever noticed that whenever you walk into a McDonald’s, the French fry machine is always to your left? 

This is because McDonald’s created a system. They have determined that the most efficient way to set up a kitchen is to always have the French fry machine on the left when you walk in.

You can do the same thing and just adapt it to your business.

Let’s say that you know that your most productive salespeople are making the most sales between the hours of 3 and 7 pm. If the other salespeople are working from 9 am to 4 pm, you can potentially increase productivity through something as simple as adjusting the workday.

Knowing how to measure productivity allows you to set up, monitor, and fine tune systems to maximize output.

4. Evaluate, Evaluate, Evaluate!

We’ve already touched on using these productivity numbers to evaluate and monitor your employees, but don’t forget to evaluate yourself using these same measurements.

If you have set up a system to track and measure employees’ performance, but you’re still not meeting goals, it may be time to look at your management style. After all, your management is a big part of the input side of our equation.

Are you more of a carrot or a stick type of manager? Maybe you can try being more of the opposite type to see if that changes productivity. Are you managing your employees as a group? Perhaps taking a more one-on-one approach would be a better way to utilize each individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Just remember that you and your management style contribute directly to your employees’ productivity.

5. Use a Ratings Scale

Having clear and concise objectives for individual employees is a crucial part of any attempt to increase workplace productivity. Once you have set the goals or objectives, it’s important that your employees are given regular feedback regarding their progress.

Using a ratings scale is a good way to provide a standardized visual representation of progress. Using a scale of 1-5 or 1-10 is a good way to give clear and concise feedback on an individual basis.

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It’s also a good way to track long-term progress and growth in areas that need improvement.

6. Hire “Mystery Shoppers”

This is especially helpful in retail operations where customer service is critical. A mystery shopper can give feedback based on what a typical customer is likely to experience.

You can hire your own shopper, or there are firms that will provide them for you. No matter which route you choose, it’s important that the mystery shoppers have a standardized checklist for their evaluation.

You can request evaluations for your employees friendliness, how long it took to greet the shopper, employees’ knowledge of the products or services, and just about anything else that’s important to a retail operation.

7. Offer Feedback Forms

Using a feedback form is a great way to get direct input from existing customers. There are just a couple of things to keep in mind when using feedback forms.

First, keep the form short, 2-3 questions max with a space for any additional comments. Asking people to fill out a long form with lots of questions will significantly reduce the amount of information you receive.

Secondly, be aware that customers are much more likely to submit feedback forms when they are unhappy or have a complaint than when they are satisfied.

You can offset this tendency by asking everyone to take the survey at the end of their interaction. This will increase compliance and give you a broader range of customer experiences, which will help as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

8. Track Cost Effectiveness

This is a great metric to have, especially if your employees have some discretion over their budgets. You can track how much each person spends and how they spend it against their productivity.

Again, this one is easy to plug into the equation: Productivity = amount of money brought in ÷ amount of money spent.

Having this information is very useful in forecasting expenses and estimating budgets.

9. Use Self-Evaluations

Asking your staff to do self evaluations can be a win-win for everyone. Studies have shown that when employees feel that they are involved and their input is taken seriously, morale improves. And as we all know, high employee morale translates into higher productivity.

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Using self-evaluations is also a good way to make sure that the employees and employers goals are in alignment.

10. Monitor Time Management

This is the number one killer of productivity in the workplace. Time spent browsing the internet, playing games, checking email, and making personal calls all contribute to lower productivity[1].

Time Management Tips to Improve Productivity

    The trick is to limit these activities without becoming overbearing and affecting morale. Studies have shown that most people will adhere to rules that they feel are fair and applied to everyone equally.

    While ideally, we may think that none of these activities should be done on company time, employees will almost certainly have a different opinion. From a productivity standpoint, it is best to have policies and rules that are seen as fair to both sides as you’re learning how to measure productivity.

    11. Analyze New Customer Acquisition

    We’ve all heard the phrase that “It’s more expensive to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” And while that is very true, in order for your business to keep growing, you will need to continually add new customers.

    Knowing how to measure productivity via new customer acquisition will make sure that your marketing dollars are being spent in the most efficient way possible. This is another metric that’s easy to plug into the formula: Productivity = number of new customers ÷ amount of money spent to acquire those customers.

    For example, if you run any kind of advertising campaign, you can compare results and base your future spending accordingly.

    Let’s say that your total advertising budget is $3,000. You put $2,000 into television ads, $700 into radio ads, and $300 into print ads. When you track the results, you find that your television ad produced 50 new customers, your radio ad produced 15 new customers, and your print ad produced 9 new customers.

    Let’s plug those numbers into our equation. Television produced 50 new customers at a cost of $2,000 (50 ÷ 2000 = .025, or a productivity rate of 2.5%). The radio ads produced 15 new customers and cost $700 (15 ÷ 700 = .022, or a 2.2% productivity rate). Print ads brought in 9 new customers and cost $300 (9 ÷ 300 = .03, or a 3% return on productivity).

    From this analysis, it is clear that you would be getting the biggest bang for your advertising dollar using print ads.

    12. Utilize Peer Feedback

    This is especially useful when people who work in teams or groups. While self-assessments can be very useful, the average person is notoriously bad at assessing their own abilities.

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    Just ask a room full of people how many consider themselves to be an above average driver and you’ll see 70% of the hands go up[2]! Now we clearly know that in reality about 25% of drivers are below average, 25% are above average, and 50% are average.

    Are all these people lying? No, they just don’t have an accurate assessment of their own abilities.

    It’s the same in the workplace. Using peer feedback will often provide a more accurate assessment of a person’s ability than a self-assessment would.

    13. Encourage Innovation and Don’t Penalize Failure

    When it comes to productivity, encouraging employee input and adopting their ideas can be a great way to boost productivity. Just make sure that any changes you adopt translate into higher productivity.

    Let’s say that someone comes to you requesting an entertainment budget so that they can take potential customers golfing or out to dinner. By utilizing simple productivity metrics, you can easily produce a cost benefit analysis and either expand the program to the rest of the sales team, or terminate it completely.

    Either way, you have gained valuable knowledge and boosted morale by including employees in the decision-making process.

    14. Use an External Evaluator

    Using an external evaluator is the pinnacle of objective evaluations. Firms that provide professional evaluations use highly trained personnel that even specialize in specific industries.

    They will design a complete analysis of your business’ productivity level. In their final report, they will offer suggestions and recommendations on how to improve productivity.

    While the benefits of a professional evaluation are many, their costs make them prohibitive for most businesses.

    Final Thoughts

    These are just a few of the things you can do when learning how to measure productivity. Some may work for your particular situation, and some may not.

    The most important thing to remember when deciding how to track productivity is to choose a method consistent with your goals. Once you’ve decided on that, it’s just a matter of continuously monitoring your progress, making minor adjustments, and analyzing the results of those adjustments.

    The business world is changing fast, and having the right tools to track and monitor your productivity can give you the edge over your competition.

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    Featured photo credit: William Iven via unsplash.com

    Reference

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