85% of business owners work nights & weekends. They spend the majority of their time working in their businesses, handling everything from client issues, payment processing, personal deliveries and any other activities they feel will help the business succeed. This entrepreneurial mindset of needing to be involved in every aspect of the business is actually the leading factor that stunts growth.
Although business owners don’t know it, their phones are actually one of the most distracting factors in their day to day. The idea that “always being available” leads to more opportunities and potential success isn’t actually true. Prioritizing your time in a way that allows you, the business owner, to focus on strategic activities without interruption is where you will generate the greatest chance for success.
Did you know just hearing your phone ring takes your focus completely away from the task you were working on? From the moment you hear the ring it takes, on average, 25 minutes to completely regain your focus on your original task.
As a business owner, answering the phone yourself is a double-edged sword. If you don’t answer, you run the risk of losing a potential new client or leaving a bad impression on an existing client. If you do answer, your productivity stops in its tracks, and that project you wanted to move forward gets pushed aside, yet again.
Luckily for you, there are many good ways you can better prioritize your time. Here are three of our favorites:
- Time Blocking
We believe using at least one (but preferably all 3) of these techniques will improve your day-to-day time management and lead to more growth for your business.
The idea of time blocking isn’t new, however, it is a very hard skill to master. It requires a little bit of stubbornness as well as some faith that this dedicated time will push your business forward.
Time blocking is essentially the practice of designating specific times of the day to focus on certain things you want to accomplish. The way you break this down is up to you, and it varies from person to person. Forbes has a great article listing 20 time management tips that can help spark some ideas on what might work for you. When we reviewed this list, two tips stuck out to us: setting a time limit & using an online scheduler.
Setting a time limit
This technique is extremely helpful and easy to implement. It almost gamifies your daily task list and helps keep guilt from setting in. For example, let’s say you want to develop a follow-up sequence for anyone who contacts you through your website. You are not sure how long this will take or what obstacles will come into play, but if you set 1 hour every morning for the next two weeks to work on this, you’ll have put in 10-14 hours of dedicated time for this project. By simply setting a time and length for the task you:
- Eliminate project fatigue because the task is spread out.
- Move an important project forward without interruptions.
- Put all guilt aside because sparing 1 hour of focus per day is far more reasonable then taking 2-3 full days out of the office.
This small shift in how you plan your days can really make a difference for a business owner struggling to find the time to “get it all done”.
Using an online scheduler
This can really be a game-changer. An online scheduler brings structure to the chaos of the day .
Personally, I could not manage my day without an online scheduler. The great thing about these systems is that they give your clients the appearance of availability when in reality you have designated times in the day when they can schedule meetings with you.
There are a few tips to follow in order to get the most out of your booking system:
- Create multiple booking pages; have as many as you need so that you can cater to the specific audience. This may mean, for example, one for new clients, one for existing clients, and one for demo requests.
- Ensure that all booking pages sync to a main personal calendar that you have full control over. This way if something unexpected pops up, all you need to do is block time in that main personal calendar, and all your booking pages will automatically update simultaneously.
- Give structured choices to your clients: have an option for a short meeting (15 minutes) or a longer one (30 minutes).
- Build in a preset buffer. This is so important because it will give you a little leeway to prevent meeting overlap and avoid upsetting a client by having to cut them off.
Business owners often find letting things go to someone else on their team is the most difficult thing to do. However, when delegation is done successfully, you will begin to see the true potential of a business.
The biggest advantage of delegating to your team is that you are building a layer of trust with them. Trust is a great motivator to a team; an ability to trust that they will make the right decision to push the business forward. This doesn’t mean tossing something into their hands and hoping for the best. It is handing it off confidently once the infrastructure and processes have been properly built. This is what allows a business to begin to thrive.
The great part about delegation is that with some time the business owner will be surrounded by a team of experts who are running their own businesses within the business. Leading your people is the purpose of any business owner, and the only way that can be done is by trusting your team and delegating the day to day to them.
We may be a little biased about this technique of delegating, but it is with good reason!
Outsourcing is an extremely quick and efficient way to get specific tasks done that you don’t want to handle.
Answering the phone and booking appointments are great examples of tasks that are better handled by an outsourced team. The cost and time investment necessary to get someone in-house up to speed can be very hindering for a small business owner, especially since they may leave at a moment’s notice and leave you hanging. Hiring an outsourced professional gives you the reliability you need day-in and day-out.
Another great advantage to outsourcing is increased efficiency and productivity. Having a dedicated team managing a specific part of your business allows you to better prioritize your day. You no longer have the constant interruption of a ringing phone or the need to frequently check your email.
Outsourcing is best used when you need a specific task done regularly, but you no longer have the time to do it. Let’s face it, answering the phone all day–everyday–isn’t what you want to be doing. You want to be focused on the strategic steps that will push your company forward. Let us help you do that.
Time blocking, delegating and outsourcing all have their advantages; using all three of them can be very effective. By implementing at least one of these techniques into your day to day you will increase your productivity and move your company forward.
Our speciality here at Smiledog is outsourcing in virtual reception and appointment scheduling. If you’re not sure how our expertise could impact your business,we would love to discuss more about what you need and how we can help.