"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend". How can you, as an SME, save time to focus on what matters most? 5 practical tips!
Tick tock, tick tock. To many SMEs, it feels as if there simply aren't enough hours in a day to get everything done. In the words of the Greek Theophrastus: "time is, after all, the most valuable thing a man can spend."
In a young, high-growth company, it's often the founder who would eagerly split himself in two. But unfortunately, burning the candle at both ends often means that projects or tasks do not get the attention they deserve.
The internet is full of tips on efficient time management, one more useful than the next, but how would these help you if you can’t find the time to read through this plethora of information? Allow us to provide you with 5 brief, practical tips!
1. Always try to plan ahead
Proper planning is an essential requirement to manage your time more efficiently. Try to take out 5 or 10 minutes a day to draw up your schedule. Whether you opt for a paper version or an electronic one, what matters is that you keep track of what should be done by when in one, single location. We would advise you to use a calendar you can take with you wherever you go, such as a mobile application for smartphones. Take into account that unexpected problems may arise at any given time: make sure you leave some time in between projects for worst case scenarios!
2. Track your time
Starting from the idea that your time is worth money - to you or your customers - will help you prioritize. By keeping track of how long you work on a project, you gain valuable insights into project bottlenecks and you'll learn how to use your time in the most efficient way possible. Additionally, timetracking drives you to focus on one core activity and postpone what's not important. Note that some customers tend to appreciate accurate project proposals or detailed invoices. In their eyes, it says something about your company’s professionalism.
3. Avoid micromanagement
Micromanagement is just as much time-consuming as it is inefficient. Hire staff you trust, and then trust them. Train them, motivate them to ask questions, provide feedback, and then allow them to do their job. At first glance, micromanagement may seem innocent, but constantly being hounded by a manager may damage an employee's involvement and sense for initiative. If you take a step back and stimulate your employees, they will be able to gain the experience, knowledge and skills they need to become better at what they do. Grant them the opportunity to complete projects on their own, you can always provide feedback afterwards to help them learn from the situation. As Steve Jobs famously stated: “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them wat to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”
4. Use time spent waiting and travelling
Working at one fixed location is history, and you don't have to sit on your hands in waiting rooms or on the train either. Agreed, unloading and analyzing mountains of files isn't an option - but who still uses this much paper anyway? In part thanks to all contemporary technology, these moments needn't go to waste. Just think about sharing documents through the Cloud. Think about meetings through video conferences, or smartphone applications that allow you to manage your schedule or customer data, wherever you are.
5. Automate as much as possible
If growth is what you strive for, you simply can't keep doing everything manually. Build templates for email traffic and recurring documents such as invoices, quotations, product descriptions and payment reminders. And naturally, in today's world, you don't ever want to lose track of your customers. A CRM tool like Teamleader could help you out: find quotations in no time, link e-mails to the right contact and analyze your sales figures, all automatically.
But why take our word for it? Try out Teamleader for free for 14 days and discover for yourself how much time you can save when you're able to focus on customers and projects - and not just your administration!