In a small business, every minute counts. A limited-size staff often must perform the same duties as a larger team, so finding ways to save time can contribute greatly to company success. Some of your employees likely have become quite proficient at time management techniques during their careers. Others, however, might require assistance. Fortunately, time management is a competency one can develop just like any other business skill. Here are some tips to help your employees better manage their time:
Set priorities together
Workers who tend to a variety of tasks – meaning probably everyone at your small business — must be able to rank the importance of each. Encourage employees to develop a daily to-do list, starting with the most critical items at the top and ending with less pressing matters. Since determining the order can be difficult when so much needs to be done, review the list together to confirm agreement.
Insist on a planner
Virtually every great manager of time constructs a schedule. Let employees choose a modern app or a good old-fashioned appointment book, whichever works for them. Then, teach them how to assign a time frame to every individual task and enter it in their calendar. Break big projects into manageable pieces. Be sure to include breaks, lunch, meetings, and other regular commitments. Even schedule a time to schedule!
As for those pesky interruptions that throw off the best laid-plans of mice and men, attempt to schedule those too with this novel approach: office hours. A preplanned block of time in which a worker expects people to drop by can cut down greatly on disturbances during other parts of the day. Fellow employees also benefit because they can adjust their own schedules accordingly instead of trying to “catch” someone.
Sharpen estimation skills
Figuring out how long to allow for each task can be the hardest part of time management. In many small businesses, employees eager to help the company grow can greatly overestimate how much they can accomplish in a day. Similarly, they often budget time based on ideal conditions (no traffic, all supplies already on hand, etc.) or fail to take into account mundane (but time-consuming) tasks such as set up and clean up.
To get a clear picture of how long tasks really take, encourage employees to track their time for at least a week and then review the data with you. Stress the need for accurate measurements, not fudging to look impressive. A log of each activity and the length of time spent provides valuable insight that can be used in future planning. Someone may think he or she is only spending a half hour whipping up a PowerPoint when the clock actually registers closer to an hour. Likewise, no sense kidding oneself that the 10-minute daily check-in with a client doesn’t always run 20 minutes.
Perfect budgeting doesn’t happen often. But armed with this realistic information, odds increase that employees will be able to create a more efficient schedule – and that’s definitely time well spent!
Want more advice and resources for building your small business? Learn about the essential elements of a standout recruitment strategy.