August 19, 2020
As owners and operators, we know how valuable our time is. We wear a dozen different hats, take responsibility for the outcomes, and find ourselves fully immersed in all things business seven days out of the week. But what separates the overwhelmed from the productive is respecting the time we are given each day. Without planning and scheduling, we hurt our business's efficiency, costing ourselves money in the long run.
To gather a great understanding of how you spend your time, create a big-picture view of your daily operations. Spend time planning out and logging your projects in half-hour increments, listing what you are working on, how long you are working on it, and when you finish. This will help you identify where you are spending the majority of your time as well as where you are wasting it. Then, you can begin to see when you are most productive, what areas of work tie you up for too long, and where you could possibly generate more efficiency. Take it even further by calculating the percentage of time you spend on different tasks, such as calls to clients, emails with customers, meetings with the team, and regular errands.
Next, set goals. Do you have important deadlines to meet? Are there projects you hope to finish before the end of the quarter? And are you including adequate time to rest and restore? Goal setting at work is a great way to keep you focused on the road ahead. Knowing where you want to go and how you will get there will help you manage your time appropriately and assist you in organizing priorities.
After evaluating your time logging data, you'll start to notice productivity zones throughout the day. Whenever this time zone is, take note of it, protect it, and plan your most important tasks in that time frame. Productivity techniques, like the Pomodoro Technique and the 80/20 Rule, can help boost your efficiency during your work productivity zone, helping you to get things done more quickly.
- Pomodoro Technique: Set a timer for 25-minutes and work diligently and uninterrupted until the timer goes off. Then, schedule a 5-minute break before you start a new timer cycle with your next task. This approach discourages multitasking on a small scale and has proven to help many individuals complete projects in a shorter amount of time. You can adjust this technique to your personal preferences, or delegate a certain number of Pomodoros to specific tasks each week, like ten Pomodoros for emails and twenty Pomodoros for marketing efforts.
- Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 Rule: This rule states that 80 percent of your results should come from 20 percent of your efforts. Identify this critical 20 percent and deem it a higher priority than your other tasks. But don't ignore the other 80 percent. While they may not be the most vital elements of the business, they still will require attention.
If you're finding there are specific jobs you don't have the time for, whether that's because other responsibilities take priority or you're just not very efficient at performing them, you might need to pass the torch on to someone you trust. Every great business owner eventually has to delegate some duties to their employees. This is good, as it indicates your business is growing! By delegating, not only will you encourage your staff to think independently and develop their professional skills, but you're also supporting a culture of teamwork that thrives within successful operations. Identify the task you need assistance with, determine your strongest team member for the particular job, then give them a reasonable goal and deadline. Be sure to set aside some time for adequate training, and ensure they have a clear understanding of your expectations.
Where you can, implement automation, and embrace apps and software. Although they can take some time to get used to, letting computers take care of the numbers, scheduling, and data collection not only lowers discrepancies due to human error, but it also decreases the amount of time spent on a single task. Do you spend hours hunched over accounting spreadsheets? Let software handle those items for you. Do you spend too much time in meetings? Find ways to simplify communication. We employ weekly stand up meetings on the farms, utilizing sticky notes on a whiteboard to follow along with scheduled responsibilities. Using columns for each day of the week, we move tasks around as necessary so everyone can see what has and hasn't been accomplished so far. This approach is quick and easy for everyone to use and encourages efficient team communication. It can be implemented on Zoom or another video conferencing platform, or in person if your team is able. You could also limit "office hours" to encourage streamlining of high-level communication, and jump on board with apps like Slack to provide an easy way for staff members to communicate throughout the day. Team emails can get lost in the jumble of customer and client interactions, so assigning one place that is specific for employee communication can take away some of the interference.
Time is money, and as successful business owners, we don't take that statement lightly. With these tricks, we continue to work on our farm's efficiency, reducing costs and bettering the company culture. If you're curious to know more about Hive Mendocino, read our Members page. While you're there, sign up for the newsletter to stay up-to-date, and if you're a buyer, fill out a Wholesale Account form so we can reach out to you with menu details.
Photo by: Morgan Housel on Unsplash