Technology and Time Management

How often do you reach the end of the day only to find that you did not get any of the things from your to do list done?  If your answer is more often than not I invite you to do a time management audit. The good news is that time management audits are easy to do and they give you great insight on where you are actually spending your time.

Why do a time management audit?  For more efficiency.  We’ve all heard that multitasking is actually zapping our productivity.  A time management audit will help you see and track what you are doing, when you are doing it and if it’s the most efficient time of day to be doing it.

How can you do a time management audit?  There are lots of tools you can use from the very technological– think apps that automatically track how much time you spend on each email– to the least technological– good old pen and paper.  The good news is that you get to choose what works best for you. Here is a list of apps for you to consider:

Getting started:  Start by listing all the things you do in a typical day and track how much time you spend on each:

  • Emails you write
  • Emails you answer
  • Phone calls
  • Staff meetings
  • Client meetings
  • Client development research
  • Breaks
  • Lunch
  • Reading
  • Accounting
  • Planning
  • Social media and marketing

Here are some ideas on how you can use your time more efficiently:

  1. Themed days– the idea here is that you assign each day of the week an overall theme and focus most of your day on that subject/theme.  For example Mondays can be staff and team outreach meetings.  Tuesdays can be devoted to client maintenance and outreach– schedule calls to existing clients and lunch meetings.  Wednesdays can be new prospect outreach day.  Thursday can be personal development day where you devote a block of time to reading and researching.  You get the point.  The themed days are designed to lump activities into one day and for you to focus more of your time on those items.
  2. Create time blocks– You can easily create time blocks to avoid distractions and the inefficiency of starting and stopping tasks. Block out 1 hour per day where you answer emails you receive from clients.  Another block of time where you write emails to potential clients.  Block out time for meetings with your staff/team.  Be sure to have a start and stop time for these meetings.  Decide if you want daily sales reports and when you will review them.  If you’re a solopreneur, block out time for social media and marketing.
  3. Delegate tasks.  For most of us this is the hardest time zapper of all.  We believe that it will take us longer to explain something than to do it, so we stop everything and do a task that is important but not necessary.  As a business owner you should be using your time strategically to maximize results.  How much time are you spending on client acquisition?  On client retention?  How much time are you spending on research and development?
  4. Go from “to do” to “outcome” lists.  What if I told you that the to do list is really busy work that allows some of us to feel like we accomplished a number of tasks in a given time period?  An outcome list allows us to focus on the bigger picture.  What are three outcomes you want for the week?  What do you have to do to make that happen?

I’ve found that asking these key questions helps to put things into perspective and allows me to focus on why I’m doing something and the potential outcome of my efforts:

  1. Does this matter (to the bottom line/to our strategic plan etc.)?
  2. How important is it (to the outcome I’m going for/to client retention/to client acquisition etc.)?
  3. What’s the impact (on _____________) ?

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Nancy Allen