Business owners share ways they maximize productivity and how their teams follow suit.
Time flies when you’re having fun. It also flies when you’re brooding, when you are working and when you think you are working, but countless distractions have hijacked your day. It can prompt a sense of failure to lay in bed and realize that your motivated intention to be productive and get a lot done was deflated by little pin pricks of wasted time in the form of unexpected calls, emails, or impromptu chats within the walls of your office with co-workers, or if you are a boss, your employees. Yes, even business owners waste time and it is often not on purpose.
We are creatures of habit and our routines, from chatting on the way to get coffee to taking a peek at social media before the day gets rolling. Some of these routines are harmless, but they coagulate to form a clot in our production flow if we are not fully aware of them and gain control. They are little things we do without much thought that are worn into the carpet of our workdays like time-sucking tracks, much in the same way we can drive home on autopilot only to sit on our driveways amazed that it seemed we “beamed” home, with no conscious thought about the drive.
Becoming a master of time management is not to abandon every office chat with a curt “No” or to believe that the outside world is going to yield perfectly to your to-do list and not throw you curve balls. Instead, it is about realizing that while you cannot control time, you can control your choices. First, you need to examine the little things – the choices you make that have worn those predicable tracks into the carpet of your workday – and decide which tracks serve to bring you closer to your professional goals and which are silently robbing your productivity.
Everyone wastes time, from the hard-working maintenance man to the go-getter entrepreneur, so don’t think you’re an exception
We all mess around, to put it plainly and yes, you do too. Even highly-paid, white-collar workers space out and lose focus on what needs to be done and most of us are so deeply fixed in our little routines that time ticks by while we fail to control our choices. In a study done in 2014 by Salary.com, it seems that many of us are starting to own up to our misspent choices while on the clock. Wasted time in the workforce is apparent in cringe-worthy numbers. It seems the number of people who confess that they waste time at work every day has reached the stunning 89% mark (and when you look at that number, you need to factor in the self-reporting angle and consider it may be higher).
We are spending longer periods than ever in a productivity vacuum and “personal use of technology” is a leading factor, according to that particular study. You want to scream that this doesn’t apply to you, that you are in the 11% who claim to never waste time (as if those people are not subject to self-reporting bias). The truth is that most of the habits and choices we have and make are sneaky little time wasters that go unnoticed until we wind up over our heads with the accumulation of unmet demands they cause. In short, you are probably wasting minutes that roll into hours, every day, without meaning to and without realizing it.
An employee coaching firm reports that the average worker spends 52 minutes in pointless meetings per day in which they really do not contribute anything
As Regional Vice President in the Pacific Northwest Region for the modern version of the printing industry, Minuteman Press International, Chris Jutt reminds us to approach our days logically. With a common sense approach to planning, you can regain control of your choices (and those of your employees) to get the most out of the ticking clock during the business day.
Chris says, “Time management is key in any business, small or large. The key to managing time efficiently is not difficult. It’s about proper planning! Without proper planning, you can expect poor performance, personally and from your employees. So work up a timetable and put together a classic ‘to-do’ list for the day for yourself and for your employees to follow. Set goals – daily, weekly, monthly – and give your employees incentives to reach them. Time management and getting the most productivity out of each day is not rocket science. Just PLAN AHEAD.” Sometimes, we all need reminders that simple things like planning can help take us out of autopilot and make us aware of our choices, so we can reroute them to our advantage.
Time’s going to fly, but all the choices within its parameters are yours
Justin Bester, owner of Minuteman Press in Hamilton, Ontario, is an example of an entrepreneur who is ever-conscious of the choices he makes each day that dictate the smooth flow of productivity in his digital print, design and marketing franchise. Minuteman Press franchise complaints about time management instruction is not easily found once franchisees leave their two-week corporate training sessions, because how to manage time as a business owner is a point of enlightened discussion and thorough instruction.
Minuteman Press International reviews and implements into training updated strategies on how franchise owners can most effectively manage their own time as well as that of their team, with considerations such as cyber-technology and digital time-suckers included. Justin advises, “The best way to tackle time management comes first and foremost from being a strong leader. If you have a dependable team that works together you will always get the job done. One of my favorite sayings is, ‘Eat the frog first!’ It’s always best to get what’s most daunting out of the way first, and then work your way out from there. The best leaders are early to rise and get in and get started before anyone else, this gives us an opportunity to get a clear perspective on the day ahead.”
Here are 2 ways to stop wasting time and take control of the choices that run your day…and your business:
1. Give yourself a break: Studies have concluded that if you are wasting time, you have a lot of company. It’s all too easy to obsess over the tasks that didn’t get completed when you are lying in bed at night, reviewing the day, but punishing yourself mentally will drag you down and hurt your productivity, too. Rather, skip the self-punishment and internal name-calling with a sense of victory over smaller daily “jobs well done”.
2. Keep your focus on your goals: If you are running a business, then your entire focus and all your energy needs to go towards the growth of your business. Every other item is a threat to your productivity and a time-waster.
- PRO TIP: Be the boss and say no to lesser-priority items, even when the temptation to micro-manage rears itself. For instance, if you know you need to say no to taking a call from someone in need of advice because you have something pertaining to the operation of your own business pending, do not hesitate to decline the call, even if the caller swears, “It will only take a minute.” Minutes add up. Also, if you are engaged in a task or a project that you know isn’t coming to a satisfying conclusion, be ready to move forward to more productive items. If you are the boss, your team is watching you because they are looking to you to set the example.
Dawn Seifert, owner of Minuteman Press in Youngstown, Ohio, is adept at making conscious choices to conserve time for the work of growing her business, while eliminating waste. Also, she knows that what she models and encourages in terms of time management infuses her team with just the right attitude she needs them to have in order to reach maximum productivity. She says, “ORGANIZATION IS KEY. Delegate tasks when you can. Stay positive and remember to encourage and uplift employees because they will work harder and will take on more responsibility when they are asked.”
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“Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity.” ― Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères
The quote above sums up the reality of time management in the sense that the clock seems most cruel to those who squander their opportunities to lay claim to the best use of the 24 hours we all get. Becoming a master of time management means stringing together all the moments of your workday into conscious choices to put the growth of your business first. If you can do that, you have a great chance to reclaim lost productivity from the black holes of mindless routine and bad habits. In reality, you cannot “manage time” because the clock ticks away mercilessly, but the choices you make as the clock continues to tick are within your full control, so aim to become a master of choices.
For more helpful business tips and advice for small business owners, visit the Minuteman Press Franchise Review, our franchise business blog.