One of the most cost effective strategies with the highest ROIs for small businesses is Time Management Strategies. Unfortunately, the challenge for most businesses is that they don’t have a clear plan that fits their needs, their culture or their long-term goals. When we audit companies, the most common feedback we get from owners and managers is “our staff doesn’t perform effectively, productivity is down all around, we have no way to accurately measure productivity, or time management is on the back burner…”
On the other hand, we hear complaints from employees that leadership doesn’t have protocols in place for managing time and, as a culture, they are VERY reactive to changes in their business.
Simply put, managers aren’t instructing their staff to take a proactive approach nor do they have a well-thought out time management strategy. As leaders and managers, we shouldn’t complain that our staff isn’t performing or being productive if we aren’t going to put the energy into providing clear direction.
Another problem we hear when we teach time management is the ‘excuse’ that “Managing time will NOT work in THIS company – we are too reactive. Not everyone will follow protocols anyway. It would be impossible to implement, so what is the point…” The fact is, these limiting beliefs are simply HOLDING YOU BACK!
If you allow excuses, your leadership is in question and you could be the reason your team isn’t performing.
The fact is, if you fail to use time as a strategy, you will lose a huge opportunity to make your company more competitive! One thing is for certain, you will not get TIME back once it’s gone so you had better use it wisely and have a plan.
We’ve implemented time management as a strategy in companies all over the world and it can work but business owners and leaders MUST be vigilant and determined for it to be successful!
So ask yourself these questions: What would happen if we could use time management as a strategic advantage? What if we applied RULES in the workplace to get more out of our people and resources; thus, improving productivity and performance? Would it be worth it? Wouldn’t you rather master time if you could implement simple yet powerful techniques that are proven to work? I hope you raised your hand and said “of course- just show me how”!
Here’s a thought – if you were on a diet and went on vacation, and you knew that you wouldn’t be following your diet during that time – would you NOT go on a diet at all because there is no use being disciplined if you’re going to quit for a few days anyway? Of course not!
A smarter time management solution is what we call a ‘Time Diet”. It’s probably one of the only things you can actively control at least more so than other factors like the economy or natural disasters. Rest assured, you CAN create a plan and you CAN stick to it. You can even measure, alter or adjust the plan as needed during times of change. And, if you can’t practice time management strategies for a week or so during busy seasons, you simply get back on the plan after you return to business as usual – just like returning to your diet after vacation. It’s really that simple.
Keep in mind, you only need to make small improvements to get better results.
Think about this…. What if you could improve productivity 1% a week, that’s 52% a year. If you improve 10% a month that’s 120% a year. You can see that small improvements can still make a big difference over time. Imagine if you were in sports and you decided to practice 10 min drills, 6 days a week. That equals an hour a week, 4 hours a month and over 50 hours a year – give or take a few. You can’t tell me that wouldn’t set you apart and make you much more competitive. So, let’s explore how to create a successful plan for your business…
Five things you can do to start implementing time management strategies:
We teach what’s called the SmartTime™ System. It’s a customized plan that fits within your unique set of circumstances rather than a generic approach. Using the tips below, you’ll create your own custom time management system. Always keep in mind that time management can be altered during busy times. This allows you to get back on track easily when business resumes to normal.
- Where does the time go, The first thing we do in planning a time management system is audit where you and your employees are spending their time right now. It’s not that hard. Start by chunking time into categories. I call these ‘Impact Areas’, such as: Administrative, Finance, Business Development, etc… If not, create them now. You may have areas that some employees don’t touch but that’s ok, make them a category anyway. You should have 5 to 7 major categories you can bucket or ‘chunk time’ into. We like to color code these areas to unify this strategy across the company as shown in the example. Take about 2 weeks and ask your team to submit a report. The report should show hours with sums such as: 10 hours Administrative, 15 hours Business Development, 8 hours Finance, etc… I like to look at this report in a daily format rather than overall two week total because I can see if the team was even allocating time slots or if they were reacting to events without documenting. The report will tell you a lot about how your team spends their time. Knowing this information is very important to productivity because most are probably not pre-planning their day in specific ‘chunked time’ categories. This is huge to creating your time management plan and gives you a baseline to measure future results.
- Establish TIME rules, Each organization should have rules and protocols it adheres to so they have boundaries with their time. Some required rules might look like, for example, “got a minute meetings, planned timeslots, agenda-driven meetings, chunked time slot for specific impact areas with no allowed distractions, IM turned off during specific timeslots, no phones in meetings, no off-topic discussions during meetings, allowable ‘do not disturb’ time slots, meetings must start and end on time, sales must spend 4 hours of day in business development, marketing must spend 4 hours a day in production, managers must spend 4 hours in revenue generating strategies, etc…” The list goes on and you can be as creative or specific as you want BUT you MUST establish time rules and boundaries for this system to work. AGAIN, its worth repeating that these rules can be ‘bent’ during uncertain or busy times. They are guidelines meant to be followed AND bent if necessary. Most companies won’t even start this strategy because they fear they can’t maintain the rules – that’s just poor leadership!
- Design your systems, After you know where you spend your time, designed impact categories, and set time rules for your business culture, you’ll need to put supporting systems in place. Systems can include anything that will automate, systematize or support the team to be more efficient. Systems might be a training platform (i.e. Learning Management System LMS), implementing an automated software (i.e. Mailchimp), a filing system, technology (i.e. Salesforce, CRM), etc… Even using Outlook at a higher level can help you systematize your daily business functions. There are many options but once you think of time management as a strategy and have created a plan, you will need new systems to support your strategy. Begin writing those down on your action plan now.
- Develop processes to fit, Another time killer is not being able to delegate or pass off tedious work where it could be. We’ll often hear from staff … “I’m the only one that knows how to do that, I can’t pass that off, etc…” yet, THAT employee is a key person and shouldn’t be assigned to low impact activities. In your audit, you’ll want to identify those items or areas that are time wasters because there isn’t an efficient process in place to be able to automate or delegate. In some cases, there are NO systems, training protocols or processes in place so you’ll need to establish those as part of this plan. In other areas, you’ll find inefficient systems and processes so you’ll want to develop a plan to improve those so that you can increase performance in those areas too. Again, your audit should reveal where time is going, why and what systems or processes are preventing you from being productive and what you need to implement with intent to improve efficiency moving forward. These areas must addressed to maximize Time Management as a strategy.
- Implement accountability, Time management won’t work if accountability measures aren’t in place or required. You’ll need to periodically audit, review and revise your strategy when necessary and across departments as well as individuals. Determine what is working, what’s not working and how can you tweak to improve. You’ll need to insist on measuring productivity so that you can see if its working. There are systems for project management and performance that could help in measuring productivity. To start, you’ll have the time audit from step one in this process as your baseline. Remember you only need to make small improvements to make a big impact. Have employees turn in weekly reports if you don’t have an automated time reporting system to see if important impact areas are improving such as business development, finance and marketing. Finally, It’s advisable to put someone in charge that can champion this initiative and be accountable to getting results. Just having someone take ownership can ensure that time management stays at the forefront of your competitive strategy.
By implementing these five action steps, you’re well on your way to being more productive and competitive. We know it works because we use this time management audit and planning system in organizations in hundreds of companies. What works so well is that it creates a customized approach to your needs and establishes a ‘time conscious‘ culture.
So, now YOU have five ways to start planning a more effective time management plan – all you have to do is get started. You’ll not only know where your time is going but you’ll be able to assess areas of improvement and create a clear path to better performance using systems, rules, processes and accountability.
About SmartTime™ System by GrowthSmart Consulting, Inc.
After years of deploying organizational audits around the world, it was discovered that most businesses and their employees weren’t managing time strategically, if at all. It was also understood that of the many time management systems available on the market, none would fit our client’s cultural and performance needs exactly – there were too many variables and time disruptions to apply across the board. Thus, GrowthSmart decided to develop and launch its own SmartTime™ System that companies could easily design and adapt to their own specific needs while still following a system to improve performance. We use this process to customize time management strategies that is unique to each corporation. For more questions on implementing this program within your organization, if you struggle to apply time management strategies or are ready to learn how you can implement your own customized plan – contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or simply apply for free resources here and an experienced coach will reach out to you to get you started.
About GrowthSmart Consulting, Inc.
Since 2007, GrowthSmart Consulting, Inc has specialized in Revenue Chain Management™ strategies, including: sales, marketing, training and operational performance to improve revenue, profitability and sustainability. Our goal is to drive long-term growth with systems and processes your team can use to maximize results, ultimately creating better performance across the revenue chain. In addition, To support small business growth, GrowthSmart has recently launched a series of small business retreats, training and resources including the ZONEMastery System™ and ZM Retreats®. APPLY for your FREE resources TODAY.