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Your business needs to run like a well-oiled machine. Anything that takes too much time, is repeated or could be outsourced should be considered a time trap.
Time traps, by nature, aren’t often noticed - and we spend much of our day assuming that we (and our business) are as productive as possible.
In the end, most of us want to do more, faster and to a higher standard. Yet, without noticing, the time traps can sweep hours and hours from us at the end of the month, which may even add up to days.
Here are some time traps and some things you can be doing to avoid them.
Real-time management is a skill, and while many of us say we have it - we don’t. True time management takes strict organization, dedication, and focus.
So if you are often either just on time or late, your deadlines seem to arrive upon you without warning, and you feel like you’re chasing your tail, then it’s probably time you took a look at your time management.
Multitasking is one of the biggest time traps and has proven to lose time.
On average, when you multitask, you lose up to 23 per switch. So say you are in the middle of a big task that requires focus, and in the corner of your screen, you notice an email.
Your attention is pulled away, and you head off to reply to the email. You see another email, and since you’re there, you respond to that too. A response to the first one comes back.
You switch back to the tasks you were doing, and not only have you lost the time to send emails, but you need to get back into the flow of what you were doing again.
It adds up quickly, and often we don’t even notice.
If you manage multiple projects, you’ll need to develop an effective system to block the time for each thing - and avoid multitasking.
Business administration is an endless stream of repetitive tasks that could usually be outsourced - or automated.
Business admin covers:
Anything that can be considered non-core but essential. These tasks don’t make you money directly, but they do need to be done.
Take a look at how much time you or your team are spending on these items, and look for alternative ways to manage them.
Ensuring your customer service is of the highest standard isn’t a job that you can tackle lightly, and most often, it will involve some outside support.
Click4assistance.co.uk is the perfect place to build a live chatbot that offers things like customization and branding.
Emails can likely be limited to one check and respond period per day, and building templates that cover all of the most asked questions, give information, payment requests, and anything else that repeats.
Read more: How To Meet Your Customer Needs on Time.
We aren’t all morning people, and we aren’t all night owls. Finding out when the best time is to tackle tasks can help you be a lot more proactive.
One of the first places to look is what your chronotype is? Are you a wolf? Perhaps a dolphin? Well, each of these animals has different peak productive hours and different sleep schedules.
But not everyone can work in the office at 5 am, or 10 pm. So how do you make that fit?
There will be portions of the day you are highly productive, and here is where you should block focus time for deep work. When you usually feel a slump or a little tired, you should place lighter tasks.
If you have complete autonomy of your working time, then spend time studying these and where you can improve.
Use your chronotype and your circadian rhythm to narrow down when you work best, and leverage it.
When you are hesitating, you are effectively doing nothing. Until you make a decision, nothing is going to happen.
Being slow to start is a huge time trap, and one that many of us would say is fine - because it’s a creative time and is giving us time to think.
But you can think and do - at the same time.
And something to be highly aware of is that you can hit the point where you are overthinking and procrastinating.
If you are thinking about complex business problems, new products, new tools, or creating a new process, some time should be given for these.
And thinking under duress and with a deadline can become difficult. Yet, pressure creates diamonds - so add a little pressure to your creativity.
So how can you think and start more productivity? Use this checklist to think and work at speed.
Thinking up new products and services can leave us feeling stuck, which is a typical response to thinking. But you’re not ’stuck’; your brain simply needs time to make all of the connections. You’ll get your eureka moment - most often in the shower or on a walk because your brain has some space to work.
Are you taking video calls when an email would do? Are you in an email chain when a call should’ve been the right way to tackle it?
If you have any sway over the conversations and how they happen, take a look at what really should be happening.
Video calls can be exhausting, and unless you have a great facilitator, they can drag on, go off-topic and often feel like there was nothing productive at the end.
Set a rule that there is a timed list for every video call and encourage people to stay time conscious and reach the points faster.
Next time you see an email chain getting out of control, ask - should this be a call?
Deadlines are a blessing and a curse. Humans usually work well when they are presented with deadlines.
We feel a sense of achievement when we set out to get something done in the shortest amount of time.
However, if you set a deadline six months from now, you might not feel the urge to get the work done until month 5.
You can put a stop to this by setting yourself different deadlines as the project goes on. Set a deadline for each portion of the project and give yourself a limited amount of time to complete it.
How to use deadlines to your advantage:
If you spend time within your working day learning how to do something, then it is time to ask for or create time dedicated to this learning. While learning as you do is an incredibly valuable ability, it eats into time that you should/could be using elsewhere.
If you have to schedule your study time, set the exact time block aside each week for it. You can highlight times where you are less productive (chronotype) and use those times to read, listen and watch.
Avoid time traps in your business by taking the time to spot them and build systems to avoid them or minimize them.
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