Can you create more “productive “time?

For many small business owners, if they have one consistent issue, it would be that there is simply not enough time in the day to achieve all the things that need to be done.

Have you ever got to the end of the day, having worked your “socks off” for the entire day, and asked the question “what on earth have I done today?”  If the answer is yes, then the next question is “how many days per week do you get this feeling?”

So, what can you do, in an office environment for example, to free up some time for productive and focussed activities?

Do Not Disturb (DND)!

By far, the simplest technique to create time is to ensure that you set time aside for you to carry out the tasks on your “To Do List”.

We have all heard employees announce, “I have so much to do; I am working from home tomorrow”.  This is an example of putting yourself into a DND mode to allow you to complete tasks that are on your “To Do List”.

Why is this so? – All too often, we come into our business premises with list of tasks that we intend to complete.  The telephone rings, customers and suppliers want time, fellow employees come into your office also seeking your time, and emails and correspondence continues to flow onto your desk – Is this a familiar feeling?

If you meet with your team and agree with them that this is the case for many of them, then it makes sense to agree to do something about it.

The recommendation is to switch the office into a DND mode for typically 1 to 2 hours every day.

The DND mode includes no external telephone calls coming through to employees, no internal telephone calls, no disturbing employees internally and a discipline to switch off emails other than for those relevant for the “To Do List” of the individual employee. Many businesses rotate their DND time amongst their employees.

The net result of this is that people get more of a sense of achievement at the end of a day, and this often results in a feeling of satisfaction and far less stress.

Here are some other “time saving” techniques that might work in your business:

  • If you have ever found yourself thinking “it is easier to do it myself”, then maybe try and discipline yourself not to do so and delegate (and if necessary, train) where at all possible. There is a fine line between delegation and abdication – supervision is required when one delegates, and feedback is helpful so you can keep control of the process.
  • If you have asked somebody to do something, there has to be an assumption that this will done be unless you have been told otherwise.  It is a mistake to allow anybody not to tell you if they can’t do something that has been agreed to be done.  This may sound obvious, but the research is quite clear; there are too many occasions where things just simply do not get done despite requests and therefore failings, and it can be very time consuming to redeem the position.
  • We all receive too many emails and the methodology that may work for some employees is to have emails sent to another supporting source, whose job it is to read all emails with the following three outcomes:
    • Delete emails because they are not relevant;
    • Forward onto the relevant employee with the words “Please read but no action required”; or
    • Forward onto the relevant employee with the words “Please read – action required”.
  • The “One touch” only rule – in the ideal world the best efficiencies come from reading an email or letter once and dealing and responding directly to the customer.  To have to re-read is generally considered inefficient.
  • Don’t laugh, but if you have a chair in or around your desk, people will sit in it!  If people sit in a chair, the discussion will take longer than if they are standing. So, do you want to have a chair for people near your desk?

By adopting some or all of the ideas listed above, you, as an employer, could create an additional amount of productive time which may also improve employee confidence.


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