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7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

7 Indispensable Time-Management Tips for Entrepreneurs

Are you an entrepreneur who finds that they aren’t getting enough done in a single work day? It’s not unusual to find yourself behind the eight ball when you are trying to accomplish so much in a given day. The key to getting it together is improving your time-management skills. Check out these time management tips; before you know it, your efficiency and productivity will increase immensely.

1. Invest in building quality business systems.

One of the best and most overlooked methods of saving time is to avoid spending your day putting out fires. You can do this by investing the time and money up front to have quality business systems and procedures in place. This upfront investment, in essence, creates the infrastructure on which your business runs. You do this by establishing quality control methodologies, implementing appropriate training programs, investing in good technology, and setting up procedures for accomplishing both mission and non-mission critical tasks.

Unfortunately, far too many entrepreneurs focus on doing these things because there is not an immediate positive impact on the bottom line. Establishing quality business systems also doesn’t have a direct impact on growth — at least, that’s how many startup owners see things. In truth, once the initial investment has been made, the efficiency and streamlining that results can keep costs down and allow your team to focus on sales, growth, and research and development.

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2. Know when to delegate and outsource for faster growth.

Many entrepreneurs are more than used to wearing more than one hat. That’s great for when things are just getting started and funds aren’t available to hire staff or bring on consultants and vendors. Unfortunately, jumping into any role when a need arises no longer becomes an efficient use of your time once a certain level of growth has been achieved. This is something that many entrepreneurs never fully grasp. Instead, they see it as a point of pride that they are able to jump in and save the day.

There are some problems with this. First of all, just because you sit at the helm of your ship doesn’t mean that you have the talent and experience needed to get every job done that needs to be done. You’ve hired people, hopefully, because they are better and smarter than you in their area of expertise. Delegate out to them, and then let them do the jobs you have hired them to do. This leaves more time for you to focus on leadership, sales, and planning.

3. Long-term planning is essential to keep your current focus sharp.

Once you do learn how to delegate, you will find yourself free to focus on planning. This is great, but it brings up the next issue when it comes to effective time management: don’t spend too much time focusing on short-term planning. Instead, keep your eyes on the future.

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How does this help with time management? When you engage in long-term planning, you force yourself to keep your focus on the activities that need to be done to meet those long-term goals. As a result, you will be less likely to get caught up in busy work or time-wasting activities. Your mind will be too laser focused on working on tasks that will lead up to the long-term goals that you set. Remember that making plans required for scaling your business and making the most of your time will lead to growth.

4. Eliminate the common time-wasting habits.

Constantly checking social media, jumping in and out of your inbox, running to the break room for more coffee or water, “checking up on everyone’s progress,” checking fantasy league stats and scores, etc. are all examples of the common, time-wasting habits that absolutely destroy efficiency. Create personal policies for yourself that eliminate these time-wasting habits so that you can make better use of your time.

Here are a few things to try:

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  • If a website is too tempting, consider buying an app to block it during working hours
  • Check your email three times each day only
  • Buy a bigger coffee mug or water bottle
  • Give yourself 20 minutes during the work day to spend in the internet rabbit hole
  • Use email to check up on staffers or trust them to come to you if your intervention is needed
  • Make a list of “Things to do When There is Nothing to do.” Then, when you are bored work on that list

5. Set up airplane days.

No, an airplane day is not a day that is created to celebrate those large miracles of aerospace engineering. An airplane day is simply a day where you switch your phone into airplane mode so that notifications, texts, and phone calls are all blocked. Planning airplane days is a great way to ensure that you have the time to accomplish the kind of pen to paper, heads down tasks that are difficult to tackle when you are dealing with a constant influx of electronic disruptions.

Of course, as the boss, you cannot simply flip your phone into airplane mode. You have to plan for these things. Let your people know in plenty of time that you will be spending a day out of communications range, and be sure that you designate a go-to person in your absence. Then, enjoy a day of catching up on tasks and getting things cleared off of your desk.

6. Prioritize till it hurts.

Almost everybody could benefit from taking a scalpel to their daily to-do list. This is truer for entrepreneurs than anybody else. Don’t just create lists of things to do. Sort that list into priorities and do it ruthlessly. Start off by creating the list of things that must be accomplished today in order to avoid creating fires that will have to be managed and mitigated later on. Those are the highest-priority tasks, and they should get your primary focus. Then, create a list of mission critical tasks. These should be tasks that need to be accomplished that work toward the goals of sales, growth, or development. It is only after these goals are accomplished should you focus on lower priority goals such as administrivia.

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7. Schedule downtime too.

An entrepreneur on the brink of burnout is very unlikely to be able to make good use of their time. This is why the final tip on this list is to schedule downtime. Both your mind and body need rest, relaxation, stimulation, and fun to function properly. So, pursue hobbies, take vacations, meditate, and read. Take a lunch break. Know when it’s time to “punch your card” at the end of the day and get some rest.

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Elena Prokopets

Elena is a passionate blogger who shares about lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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