It's the beginning of a new year, a time when people take stock of their lives, make new changes, and create new goals. In the spirit of change, all of the tips we publish this month will be focused on new habits that will increase your productivity so you can grow your business. Time is the one limited, nonrenewable resource that's constant for every person in the world. This month, our goal is to help you maximize this resource.
Are You Actually Busy?
Believe it or not, most people who claim to be "busy" are either wasting too much time on tasks that don't help grow the business, or they're not 100% focused when working on crucial tasks. Instead, they are constantly distracted by email, social media, employees, and a number of other "important" things. Yes, it's important to respond to emails. Yes, you need to be there for your employees. But as weird as this sounds, you can't let work prevent you from growing your business.
Track Your Time
If you want to take control of your schedule, the first step is to track how you're spending your time. For one week, keep track of everything you do, down to the minute. I can already hear the retorts of "That will be so much work! I get interrupted every few minutes and it will be too hard to track that!" Yes, this will be a lot of work. But a single week of tracking will help you eliminate all of these distractions in the future. Plus, if you're getting interrupted every few minutes, then something needs to change. Even if you think that you're good at multi-tasking, there are a multitude of online articles explaining that multi-tasking makes you less productive.
The process of measuring where you spend time on the Internet is easier. There are a lot of tracking plugins and apps like timeStats that are available for free. A plugin like timeStats reveals exactly how you spend your time on the Internet. It can be easy for humans to be blind to our incessant need to check email and Facebook every 5 minutes. A tracking software like this tells us the brutal truth, whether we want to believe it or not.
At the end of the week, you have a comprehensive look at the way you really spend your time (instead of the way you hope to spend your time). With this information in hand, you can remove all of the distractions and busy-work that prevents you from focusing on growing your business. If you work 50+ hours per week but spend most of your time doing medial tasks, then delegate. Discover which tasks can be handed over to managers or other employees. Find your biggest personal time suck (like Candy Crush or Facebook) and eliminate it from your work day. Remove interruptions by setting certain blocks of time during which employees can't bother you, and you can't check email...more on this in our next post.
If you want to grow your business, it's important to manage your time and eliminate distractions. The best way to do that is through detailed tracking. The extra work up front will pay dividends in the future.