One of the easiest ways to make business processes more efficient is to identify activities that are wasting time and eliminate them. You can get rid of them by tightening up, streamlining, delegating, outsourcing, or automating the task. But the first step is to figure out what’s draining your time.
Perform a Time Audit
You may be able to guess where you’re spending the bulk of your time, but the only way to know for sure is to perform a time audit. This means logging your time at work for a set period in order to gather objective data. You can do this with an app or software program that logs your time. The results may surprise you.
Consider Time Spent vs. Results
Look at the activities where you spend the most time. Do they produce the most results? What you might find is that you’re spending a great deal of time on activities that don’t produce results. Meanwhile, those that produce greater results aren’t getting the time they need.
What’s Stopping You from Getting Things Done?
For tasks that take a great deal of time, what is making them take so long? There’s probably some stage during the process that’s taking longer than it should. Look for bottlenecks where tasks get caught up and can’t progress. If the actual work to complete a certain task simply takes too long, you might consider delegating or outsourcing it.
The Biggest Culprits
What kinds of tasks tend to waste the most time? Here are some ideas on what you should look for:
Tasks that don’t require your specific skills and expertise. These are things anyone with the proper training can do. For the best efficiency, you should only perform tasks that only you can do.
Routine things you do regularly on autopilot. If you can do them without thinking about it, others can as well. Look in particular at things you do each day.
Tech tasks that can be automated. If there’s anything you’re doing that a computer could do, you need to automate it.
Meetings that aren’t totally necessary. Do you need to attend each meeting? Instead, get someone else to attend and have them summarize the essentials you need to know.
Meaningless communications. Same as above, delegate to someone in your organization so they filter communications and only contact you when it’s necessary.
Unexpected visits. Ask people to make appointments ahead of time so you’re not derailed from other things you need to do.
Lack of prioritizing. Tackle the most important tasks first to make sure they get done and receive your best attention and energy. For example, instead of handling each email as it comes, attack your inbox in order of priority.
If you take the time now to overhaul your business practices, you can save a great deal of time later on. Map out each process and see where time is being wasted. Then, you can figure out how to tighten up and make the most of your time at work.
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