In a world where instant gratification is becoming the norm, at least from your customer’s perspective, it’s never been more important to make the best possible use of your time. There are only so many working hours in the day, and sometimes it feels like you’ll simply never be able to catch up.
Taking the time to implement procedures to make your business run more efficiently might even sound counter-intuitive, but it’s actually one of the wisest investments you can make. Here’s how.
1- Have a long-term vision and plan
When you’re constantly putting out fires and tackling problems as they arise, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. Stepping back and actually prioritizing projects that add long-term value to your company is crucial to your growth, but you can’t begin to do so until you know what your end goals are. Whether it’s putting together a formal written business plan for the year ahead, or setting meaningful targets complete with manageable deadlines for each department, you need a clear plan. Once this is in place, it’s easier to see the path ahead and prioritize accordingly.
2- Focus on one thing at a time
And once those priorities are in place, the next step is to focus on them one at a time. If a task is being delegated to a particular person or team, then give them the tools they need to do the work – and leave them to it. By all means be available to provide guidance if they need it, but avoid the temptation to try and micromanage.
Most people think they’re good at multitasking, but the reality is that you’ll do a better job, more quickly, if you focus all your attention on the matter at hand. Being able to cross things off your to-do list for good also help keep you motivated to keep the momentum going.
3- Streamline your production and processes with the right tools
Whether it’s in a factory or warehouse, or simply how you handle admin and paperwork, investing in the right tools to boost efficiency and make your employee’s jobs easier and faster to perform can pay off handsomely. Whether it’s buying a forklift to streamline warehouse operations or implementing task management software to assist your admin staff with managing their time better, the right tools can make a world of difference.
4- Outsource non-core functions
As a business owner or manager, your focus should be on growing and developing your business, making your customers happy, networking with potential clients and useful business contacts, and improving and expanding your service. It’s impossible to give this your full attention if much of your time is taken up with mundane tasks like finalizing the payroll, dealing with accounts and taxes or trying to keep your social media pages up to date too.
Hire an affordable but professional and reliable firm or freelancer to handle these chores for you and free up your time to focus on growing your business.
5- Automate time-consuming tasks
There are plenty of jobs that only a human can manage, but when it comes to repetitive, monotonous tasks that require time and accuracy, let the machines do the work. It might be implementing a barcoded system for managing and tracking inventory better, ensuring enquiries from your website get an immediate automated general information response before they get passed on to a salesperson, or getting your website to work better for you and your customers.
6- Limit interruptions
There’s no bigger time drain in the office than endless ‘meetings about meetings’. Aside from the time the meetings themselves take up, people require a fair chunk of time to get back in the zone and refocus on what they were busy with beforehand. Having one general meeting in the morning to discuss what everyone’s tasks for the day are is fine, but then let them get on with it. As a leader it’s often tempting to call people into your office to discuss an idea as it occurs to you, but try and resist interrupting the work flow unless it’s really necessary.
7- Encourage feedback from your employees
When you’re looking from the top down, it’s not always possible to spot issues that are getting in the way of your employees doing their jobs as efficiently as possible. Make it clear that you’re open to feedback, and encourage suggestions from your staff on how work flow can be improved.
8- Establish standard procedures
None of your staff or managers should have to guess what they’re supposed to do in a given situation, or what tasks they need to prioritize. Each worker should have a clear idea at the start of each day what they’re expected to accomplish and how they need to go about it. Make sure adequate training is provided as well as the occasional refresher – you can even turn the event into a friendly get-together to boost morale.
The Bottom Line:
Whether it’s a recently launched startup or a smoothly running business, there’s always room for improvement and so it is important to strive for efficiency. Through trial and error, market research, and by getting feedback from your customers and employees you can constantly monitor what is working and what isn’t, and improve your business efficiency, and grow and strengthen your business.