Along with cash, property or people, time is surely one of the most important business assets you have. But do you manage it as well as you could? Here I’d like to share my first five steps to better time management, for business owners and those employed by them. But first, ask yourself: do any of these challenges apply to you?
- You often wish there were more hours in the day.
- You battle delegation in fear of your high standards being dropped.
- You wish it was easier to increase productivity and profits without increasing overheads.
- You avoid being “too successful” to prevent the subsequent increase in responsibility from after-sales service and administration or cash flow issues (e.g. late payments).
- You feel that the only way to meet your objectives or clear your desk is to work longer hours.
- There is so much to do that you struggle to identify the best decisions and priorities.
- You regularly feel an imbalance between recognition and reward against your efforts.
It may be that you need to pause and rethink how you and your team are using your time. The tips below will show how to apply a ‘kaizen’ (Japanese phrase for continuous improvement) ethos to drive continuous improvement in your business or in your role within one. By implementing the key steps below, you can work smarter and make your time work harder for you.
- Understand – take time out to map out all the different tasks you undertake in any given month. How long (as an estimate) do you spend on them? Which tasks do you enjoy doing? Who else could do them if you had an unlimited pool of colleagues and what employee grade (wage value) would you put on each task? Look at the total average number of hours you are working each week. Where would you like those hours to be capped?
- Analyse – calculate how many of those tasks and the hours spent doing them would be either enjoyed more by another, or where another would achieve a greater output in less time. Consider whether there are colleagues who are better skilled than you at certain tasks. Think about the cost to the business of your task allocation. For example, if you are a business owner trained in marketing, but you are doing operational or administrative tasks, then it’s costing your business more money. Your hourly value to the business could be some £75–£100 per hour spent on marketing strategy, but might now be as little as £15–£50 per hour spent on operational tasks. Furthermore, a skilled operations manager or administration assistant will probably do the tasks twice as fast which multiplies the increased value to the business. Our teams have found that strategically prioritising and allocating resources in this way can generate a true saving to the business of three or four fold!
- Implement – agree who will do what and when. Discuss and verify what the benefits or successes will look like for each task type reallocated. Consider and agree any other support required from the changes, making sure the objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).
- Embed – arrange a 60-day check point with those involved in the acquiring or handling of tasks. How did it go? What worked well? What could be better over the next 60 days? How does everyone feel about their role fulfilment and productivity? Agree another later review meeting to repeat the above process and keep driving kaizen.
- Enjoy – often a forgotten aspect of work in a busy role or business. Take time to acknowledge and recognise the improved success of yourself and those around you.
By making your time work smarter and harder you will increase the job satisfaction, life–work balance and overall productivity of yourself and those around you. Analysing and prioritising where it is best to leverage the time of yourself and your colleagues will enable you to value and reward each team member’s contribution. It will also simplify decision-making around resource allocation, creating productivity uplift and leading or supporting those around you.
And how do we measure this? Of course, the value of time isn’t directly itemised on a company profit and loss account. In contrast, business property, rent and people (employee wages, NI, training) directly and indirectly appear in financial accounts, as a cost or asset. At ABP we have tried and tested a plan which attaches monetary values to the different and multiple activities you and your colleagues undertake, so you can directly and more easily form a strategy to get more from your time. This is one way to measure the value of your time, and can help immensely in deciding how you spend it.
It’s too easy to overlook how you’re using this most precious resource. After all, once time is spent, you cannot reclaim it!
Daryl Woodhouse is the founder of Advantage Business Partnerships and the co-author of Creating Business Advantage: Setting Up and Running A Successful Business (SRA Books, 2015) ISBN 978-1-909116-43-6.
The 5 steps given here are taken from the ABP 3E System. For more information or for a helping hand with maximising effectiveness, profit and staff satisfaction, then do speak to a member of our team on 0203 384 0276 or contact us via www.advantagebusinessltd.com.