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Time Management Strategy for Business Growth
It is usual for business owners to feel overwhelmed by tight schedules. Between chasing new leads, attending client meetings, and managing employees, it can be easy to lose track of the number of hours spent in a business. Some business owners work between 16-18 hours a day yet complain that most of their tasks remain pending. A study conducted by Harvard University found that businesses lost $65 billion in revenues after failing to meet their required deadlines. Business owners, especially those running startups, SMEs and MSMEs, must focus on honing their time management skills. It is vital on two accounts, one to transition from working in the business to working on the business, and secondly, to reduce the loss of opportunities because of the inefficiencies of poor time management.
Why is Time Management Important Strategy for Business Owners?
As an entrepreneur, you are constantly challenged to do more in less time. Time management skills help you organise, plan and control the time spent on each task. Unlike employees, Entrepreneurs are their bosses and can decide how they allocate their time between activities; in the process, they often miss out on prioritising by accountability, thereby losing the plot.
Drawbacks of Poor Time Management Strategy
Poor time management Strategy leads to missed deadlines and rushed submissions, which translates to shoddy output, unsatisfactory or delayed client delivery, and client dissatisfaction.
Over time poor time management adversely affects the health and brand of the organisation. Delayed decisions and high pressure on deliverables drive teams to extend themselves, resulting in stress & a strained work-life balance. Unhappy customers bring in bad reviews, increased dissatisfaction, and loss of self-esteem among employees. Disengaged and demotivated employees lead to increased employee turnover earning a poor reputation as a workplace of choice, which further makes recruiting talent a challenge.
How Business Owners Can Effectively Manage Their Time
Conducting Time Audits – A survey showed that 49% of working professionals have never completed a time audit to analyze how they spend their time at work. Time audits help take out the guesswork from time management. With proper analysis, time allocation to productive activities can be increased. While planning a schedule tends to boost productivity, only if one honours the schedule. Distractions such as an extended lunch break, discussions with colleagues, and personal browsing are time stealers. Employees and business owners can better manage their time and improve efficiency by conducting a time audit.
Identify Tasks Based on Priority – A practical approach to managing time is the Covey Time Management Matrix created by Steven Covey. The model stands on four simple quadrants, with business owners grouping tasks based on importance and urgency. The model categorises various functions into the following groups-
Business leaders and managers must balance the day-to-day decisions aligned to the organization’s long-term goals. By employing the Covey Time Management Matrix, leaders can prioritize important work with looming deadlines, delegate non-important tasks to employees, and wait to complete tasks with a longer time horizon.
Know Your Goals – One area which could save the organization countless hours is the process of setting goals. Having goals provides clarity, enables alignment, and gives efforts direction, improving productivity and achievement of goals. Working without setting goals dilutes focus, results in wasteful effort and reduced productivity.
One framework to adopt while framing goals is the SMART framework-
Specific – Goals are Well Defined, Clear and Unambiguous
Measurable – Goals Need to Have Specific Criteria to Track Progress
Achievable – Goals should be Realistic and Not Impossible to Achieve
Realistic – Goals that are within reach and relevant for the organisation.
Timely – Goals need a defined start and end date, which sets the priority.
Plan Ahead – Once you have a clear idea of your goals, developing a plan of action is important. Making a Daily, Weekly or even Monthly plan can help an organisation develop a clear roadmap to achieving its goals. Managers and Teams should focus on creating a to-do list for the following workday. A weekly/daily huddle further ensures all hitches are addressed for each team member, and everyone can hit the ground running.
Eliminate Distractions – A workplace is fraught with distractions, often making it difficult to retain focus on work. Distractions can range from chattering employees to phones buzzing with notifications to unwanted web surfing. Research shows that employees Spend 3 hours of their work time surfing the web for shopping, social media browsing, or job hunting. It is crucial to eliminate these distractions to increase productivity by creating a system. It can range from having a no phone policy to limiting access to websites only for work which will no doubt limit the distractions.
Delegate More Often – Managers and Founders often resist delegating early in the business due to monetary constraints or to maintain control. However, this approach can ultimately lead to lower productivity and increased costs over the long run. Managers need to identify the critical tasks and delegate the less important tasks. By delegating tasks, teams can complete work faster, enabling them to meet their deadlines.
Avoid Multi-Tasking – Most modern business environments have situations where leaders and employees routinely conduct multiple tasks daily. While some argue that multitasking can enhance productivity, it is somewhat counterproductive. According to a study conducted on business owners Multitask, the organisation’s productivity can fall by as much as 40%. Inefficient time allotment across tasks when multitasking can result in all of the tasks remaining unfinished. Furthermore, multitasking adds to stress and anxiety, negatively impacting business productivity.
Wise time investment can profoundly impact the organisation, leading to increased productivity and a relaxed work environment that fosters employee satisfaction.
While we have looked at some effective time management strategies, this list is by no means exhaustive.
Time management strategies will vary depending on the business’s size, complexity, maturity and leadership.
One may need to look at tailored strategies that fit the organisation’s needs for the best results. If you are a business owner struggling to find focus or order in your daily chaos, it is time to hire a business coach.