Avoid extra stress by following these time management tips.
As a busy operator, you are often pulled in many directions, which can lead to overwhelm, burnout, and inefficiency. But when you’re running the business, every inefficiency can cost you more than just time. Poor time management skills can lead to excessive rework, employee turnover, poor guest service, and reduced revenue and profitability.
In short, you can’t afford it, and you don’t have to. That’s why we’re sharing seven easy-to-implement tips to help you build stronger time management practices that will help you operate smarter and more efficiently.
No. 1: Focus on what’s most important.
You’ve no doubt heard of the time management matrix that Steven Covey introduced in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In essence, the idea is to mentally place anything you have to do into one of these four quadrants:
- What’s urgent and important – needs your attention first. Things like crises, onsite customers or team members, accounts payable and payroll, and other tasks with critical deadlines
- What’s important but not urgent – should get prioritized to help you address the issue before it becomes urgent. Includes things like relationship building, training, long-term planning, strategy, etc.
- What’s urgent but not important – includes interruptions and meetings, as well as other distractions. Consider what needs your attention and what can be delegated to others
- What’s not urgent and not important – most likely inefficiencies in your processes that waste time and energy. It’s time to eliminate what you can and automate what you can’t.
When you start viewing the tasks on your plate within this framework, you’ll begin to understand how you’re spending your time so you can adjust to clear the way for you to do your best, most important work. Brian Tracy’s book, Eat That Frog, and Gary Keller’s and Jim Papasan’s The One Thing both share the concept of doing the one most challenging or essential task first so that the work that follows is easier or more enjoyable. These methods are all about focusing on what matters most.
No. 2: Get organized.
Superior organization skills are often underrated, but they can do a lot to help you manage your time and projects effectively. Prioritizing the most critical work is a big step towards getting organized so you can manage your time. Write things down, make schedules, and give yourself deadlines.
If you’re prone to procrastination, consider setting deadlines for yourself. Commit to working on an important project for a certain amount of time before you can move on to a more desirable project. Because many people work best with deadlines, this can be an effective way to get more done while reducing stress and anxiety.
Google makes it easy to stay organized with a suite of office programs designed for just that purpose. Google Keep is a great way to manage lists and notes (like those lightbulbs you promised to order for the breakroom and other notes from your interactions with team members you need to capture for your next meeting). Google Calendar and Gmail seamlessly work together so you can set tasks, appointments, project time, and anything else you need to prioritize. Even things like working out, calling your mom, and other self-care commitments are good to get on the calendar, so you’ll keep your promises to yourself, too.
No. 3: Reduce the number of touches.
Getting organized is also about working more efficiently. When you get an email, how many times will you open it before you clear the issue out of your inbox and off your mind? Every time you have to touch a message or issue more than once, you’re probably lowering your effectiveness. Consider blocking time on your calendar for email management and either dealing with or delegating any issues that need immediate attention. If it’s something that you need to address later, consider flagging the email to be redelivered later that you know you will be able to focus on it. This can help you manage your time and keep your inbox clutter-free.
Gmail has features for scheduling emails to send later and will sometimes return nudges on emails you’ve sent. In addition, free apps like Boomerang for Gmail give you even more control over the exact times you send an email, snooze an email for or until a specified time, and remind you when you haven’t received a response so you can follow up. These tools can help you prevent your email from becoming unwieldy and prevent issues from slipping through the cracks.
No. 4: Delegate.
Getting good at delegating is an essential skill for any leader. Proper delegation clears time for you to manage other things that require your attention while also giving your team members leadership and growth opportunities. To learn more about how to delegate effectively, check out these do’s and don’ts.
No. 5: Build processes to automate what you can.
While you’re thinking about getting organized, it makes sense to review processes (or develop them) to create efficiencies wherever possible. A critical aspect of process management is to look for areas where you can automate. For example, are there manual tasks you perform daily or weekly that would benefit from automation (or delegation)?
Are you scrambling to order inventory too often? Consider implementing a more thoughtful inventory audit process and use automatic purchase orders and digital packing lists to streamline the process.
Are you answering the same questions repeatedly from party parents leading up to an event? Consider building automatic emails to go out with party reminders, answers to frequently asked questions, and other party prep needs.
Consider these and any other facility management processes to determine what you can automate and then build new, more impactful procedures to help you and your team focus on the right tasks.
It may seem a little daunting at first, but if you spend a little time now reviewing your current processes and workload to determine how best to move forward, you’ll start to get crucial minutes of your day back, so you can have more time for the work that matters most.
Have other time management tips? Share with us in the comments or on Twitter.
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