On certain days, it just feels like there are not enough hours in the day. Months fly by and you wonder where the time went. As a founder of a company, you’ll need to handle tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making and even staffing matters.
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned entrepreneur or an aspiring start-up business owner, time is valuable.
If you’re searching for an easy and uncomplicated way to incorporate your business, Osome is here to help. Our team of dedicated experts are always here to assist you with incorporation, compliance, and accounting matters, so that you can focus on starting your business.
Burnout at work is a far more common issue than you would think. With so much to juggle, even basic tasks can begin to feel overwhelming. To make things easier for you long-term, here are 10 time-saving tips that can help you to work more efficiently.
- Knowing When and How to Say No
Saying no might seem like a wrong step to take for entrepreneurs, especially if you’re in a start-up business, however, when your diary is full and you’re struggling for time, you might need to reconsider how you use that time more carefully.
Networking, for example, is important, but only if you have enough time to commit to answering other entrepreneurs’ queries, giving advice or helping others reach their business goals. A lack of time can undermine the entire experience and could even represent you in a bad light.
Similarly, meetings should be carefully considered: meetings on a Monday morning at 8.30am may not be productive for those who are not ‘morning people’, just as a meeting at 5pm on a Friday will not be well-received. If you arrange meetings at these timings, you’re simply wasting precious time. Make sure you need the meetings you attend and host, assess whether they can be replaced by a quick email, and keep track of time and agenda during the meeting to make sure that everyone is getting out of it what they need to.
Try to assess all your commitments against the benefit of the outcome. Unfortunately, there will be times when you’re so busy, you need to prioritise your commitments, so you don’t burn out completely.
It can also be a good idea to schedule regular focus time in your diary to ensure that you have such time set aside and not available for other people’s meetings.
- Rank Your Work Tasks by Importance and Urgency
By implementing an employee scheduling strategy, you can get insights into which tasks are done, when they were completed, and which jobs are incomplete. It also helps you to assign tasks across different teams or locations.
This prioritisation analysis extends to tasks: always do the most important task first and work down your list in order of priority. This may come across as a given, but you’ll be surprised to find that people sometimes procrastinate, choosing to work on the less important tasks first - which only makes tight deadlines more urgent and worsens any stress related to priority tasks.
Think about what time of day best suits you: are you a morning person, or do you do your best work in the late afternoon? Arrange your most important tasks for this period, prepare for the next day with a summary list of the remaining priorities - and enjoy the satisfaction of physically ticking items off your list.
- Complete One Task Before Moving on to the Next
You know yourself best—if you’re unable to multitask, don’t.
As a founder, it’s paramount that you focus on achieving your main goal, instead of failing at several. For example, when in a meeting, your mind should be focused only on the agenda of the meeting and aim to settle on some outcomes. However, if you’re replying to emails or writing up a business case at the same time, you probably shouldn’t be in the meeting. The likely outcome will be that you still need to catch up on what happened in the meeting, and you might have to rewrite some of your business cases - because you’ve not been able to apply yourself fully to either.
One tip we’ve found to be useful is to follow this method: before starting any task, assign a time limit to it, and aim to finish it within the time limit. Set an alarm for 30 minutes to an hour, and mentally allocate time to that task. During this set time, don’t shift your focus to anything else. If you finish your task before that time is up, give yourself a reward with a coffee break or a short walk outside the office.
- Schedule Daily Work-In-Progress Meetings
This works best in small groups. If you have a start-up with 10-12 employees, dedicate a fixed time every morning to run through the tasks each person has for the day. This way, you know what everyone is working on for that day, and this in turn converts into better productivity for both you and your employees.
For bigger companies, you can have these work-in-progress meetings with your department heads, so that they know what is expected of them and their teams for the day. These meetings don’t have to be long and drawn-out; 15–20 minutes can be useful to keep to a tight schedule of updates from everyone.
Make sure you run a tight agenda, asking everyone what they’re doing, what’s working well, and if there are any blockers.
- Know When to Delegate Work
It can be tempting to do everything yourself as a founder, because it saves money - and sometimes the process of explaining a job and delegating it can appear to take longer than its worth. However, as a founder you need to focus on the work that will drive your company, so delegation is important in allowing you to do so. Empowering people along the way to take on more responsibilities can also be a powerful benefit of being a founder - so seek out the opportunities to do so.
- Leave Sufficient Buffer Time Between Projects
Taking up projects on a very tight timeline may not be a good choice for start-ups. Firstly, you may not have the manpower to churn out quality with very little time. Secondly, you might not be equipped to handle the problems that arise when you rush to churn out work.
When you receive a client request, always ask and confirm their project deadline before you start. Make sure that you can finish one or two days before their deadline, so you have buffer time to fix any issues that might pop up.
- Assign Deadlines to Everything
That said, deadlines are crucial to good project management. Make sure you make your deadlines reasonable without being generous, as few will complete a task in a short amount of time if they don’t think they need to. Make sure you give your staff the space enough to speak up if they find deadlines difficult to stick to. One excellent platform to raise concerns about deadlines is in the work-in-progress meetings mentioned above. If staff expect to talk about blockers at these meetings, any issues with deadlines should naturally arise.
- Try to Avoid Distractions as Much as Possible
When you’re really pushed for time, consider setting your phone to a ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode, where you only get calls from emergency contacts. Distractions from texts and notifications can quickly lead to time wastage.
- Avoid Completion Bias
Completion bias is when your brain is tricked into focusing only on the small and unimportant tasks because of that positive feeling you’ll get when you complete them. Such tasks can include answering emails or data entry, and you may take long hours just to complete them instead of focusing on the bigger and more important tasks.
So, to prevent completion bias, try mixing up the big and small to-dos. For example, you could reply to an email, feel good about completing a small task, then use that energy to tackle something more challenging, like getting back to a vendor about a quote.
- The Pomodoro Technique
The last tip we have for you is The Pomodoro Technique. It’s a popular time-management method that helps you improve your effectiveness by estimating how long you take to finish a task. In case you haven’t already heard of this technique, here’s how to go about using it for time-management:
- settle on the task you want to focus on
- set a timer for 25–30 minutes
- get to work
- when the timer ends, take a 2–3 minutes break
- repeat the steps above for four sessions
- after four sessions, take a 10–15 minutes break
- record each session with a tick in a notebook or notes app
The Pomodoro Technique is a good idea if you find yourself easily distracted or want to know how long a particular task takes you to complete.
Remember, you own your time. So, if you want to get more done in less time, apply these time-management tips that will make your start-up or small business more productive and efficient.
As we mentioned, another way to have a successful business is to delegate. That’s why here at Osome, we have a team of dedicated experts that can offer you valuable insights on registering and incorporating your company, accounting and bookkeeping tips and even help you with your e-commerce needs.
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