Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy time? Imagine being able to stroll into Tesco Express and pick up a jar – or a tube or a roll – of time, just to tide you over when things got a bit busy.
Sadly, buying time isn’t yet possible (we’re sure someone somewhere is working on it). But saving time, now that is possible. Not in a piggy bank, of course. You have to use it in the same sort of linear fashion as everyone else… oh, you know what we mean!
Anyway, here are our top tips for saving time at work.
1) Stop multitasking
You may be very proud of your ability to write an email while having a Skype call, eating a donut and tidying your stationery drawer, but it’s not doing you any favours when it comes to efficiency. Studies have shown that batch tasking – doing a series of similar tasks consecutively – is a much better way to get stuff done, so block out your time, get your head down and power through.
2) Manage your notifications
Did you read our recent post about New Year’s resolutions every business owner should make? If so, you’ll know that the fact that our electronic devices are so keen to tell us what’s going on means we can spend our entire lives fielding notifications. If you’re going to stop multitasking, you’ll need to make sure that you’re not getting interrupted every five seconds by a ping from Facebook, LinkedIn or your email.
3) Digitise your archives
How many hours have you spent scrabbling around in the archive room looking for paperwork you can’t even remember seeing, let alone filing? Wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could get hold of it at the touch of a button? Going digital by using a document scanning service (ahem, like ours) is a huge time saver, plus you’ll save on storage space too, so it’s a double win.
4) Have standing meetings
This isn’t a joke, promise. No one likes standing up for too long, right? So by banning chairs from your meetings you’ll reduce unnecessary chitter chatter, and everyone will get straight to the point. Result? Shorter meetings and more time for you to get on with other stuff.
5) Work to your personal rhythms
Without getting too science professor on you, there are these things called Circadian Rhythms, which basically control how we feel and behave within a 24 hour period. Listen to your body, work out when you’re most productive – maybe first thing in the morning or just after lunch – and try to do your most complex work then. You’ll zoom through it much faster than if you try when you’re feeling sluggish and no use for anything except drinking tea and possibly doing a gentle Sudoku.
6) Embrace ‘good enough’
This is one for all you perfectionists. You know that report you pretty much finished last week but have been tweaking ever since? SEND IT RIGHT NOW! It may not be perfect, but it is 99% there and that is good enough. So stop wasting time and move on to the next task. (Caveat: Good enough really isn’t good enough if you’re a brain surgeon or bomb disposal officer – in that case, you really need to aim for perfection, ok?)
Do you really have to do everything on your to do list yourself? Is there someone else who can do some of it? Someone who, dare we say it, can do it quicker and even (gasp) better? Play to your strengths. If that means hiring in outside help – be it someone to handle your blogging or your event planning – you’ll probably find that the cost savings associated with you freeing up your own time will cover it.
8) Get IT support
Speaking of outsourcing… Did you know that the average business person working 40 hours a week spends 22 minutes a day sorting out computer issues? That’s 88 hours a year! Just think what you could do with that time if you had a dedicated techie to work out why all your emails since August have disappeared, rather than trying to do it yourself.
9) Say no
Of course, the very simplest way to save time is to be really, really stingy about how you spend it. Get into the habit of saying, “I’ll just check my schedule” when people ask if you can do something or invite you to an event. That way, you don’t have to say no to their face and you can work out a really great excuse if you don’t want to accept.
Good luck, and if there’s anything we can do to help (hint: number 3 is a bit of a specialism of ours) then do get in touch.