It’s that time of year again – fall is officially here. And one of the least-celebrated parts of fall, one that I think could stand to be celebrated more, is the onset of Daylight Savings Time. After all, we all know that two major pain points for most small businesses are not having enough time and not having enough money. Well, here’s a chance for you to gain a little extra time – one hour, to be exact!
The basic idea is that if time is money, then having more time equals having (or making) more money. And you don’t need a full day – with some of these simple tricks, you can make good use of that extra hour.
1. Get organized: Because we are all so busy, one of the biggest time-wasters we face is nothing more than the inefficiency that comes from being, well, a little (or a lot as the case may be) disorganized. The first step in any efficiency plan is, not surprisingly, to get organized. Increased organization comes in two ways:
- First, plan your day in the morning (here’s a chance to use your extra hour!). Spending a few minutes to plot the day ahead by setting goals and prioritizing tasks will make you far more productive.
- Second, don’t just organize your day, but also organize your space. Put things where they belong. Keep your desk neater. Always have the right supplies on hand.
It is estimated that an increase in organization can yield up to an extra two hours of productive time a week and up to an additional six percent in revenue.
How? Well, think about it. One thing you can do with that extra time is that you can take better care of your customers. Now, an hour a day may not seem like much, but what if you used that hour to its maximum effectiveness? You could check in with customers, make some sales calls, or make sure you are caught up on invoices/orders.
Being more organized means being more efficient, more effective, and more profitable. It's as simple, and as important, as that.
2. Own your software, and don't let it own you: It’s amazing how often small business owners buy great software to help them with their business, but fail to take the extra time necessary to really learn how to use it.
Software manufacturers spend enormous amounts of time and money learning about small businesses, and they use that knowledge to make programs to help us succeed. Take advantage of that. Devote your extra hour to learning how to really use that new software you purchased.
3. Slay your inbox: It is probably safe to say that there is no bigger time-consuming culprit these days than the deadly email inbox. How many times have you checked your email today? Exactly. So if you want to be more effective you need to get a handle on your email. Here are a few ways:
- Unplug: One easy way to get ahead of the never-ending inbox is to simply go offline and answer your email without having to constantly see and deal with what’s incoming. Respond to everything that needs a response, then log-on to the Internet and hit ‘send.’ This is especially good to do with your extra hour early in the day, when folks are less likely to bombard you with emails.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: If you send out the same email, or same response, fairly regularly, create a canned email that you can copy and paste, or – better yet – use a software tool like TextExpander to create the response in a few keystrokes.
- Outsource it: I reference Tim Ferriss’ book The 4-Hour Workweek often, and for good reason – Ferriss’ tips are indispensable for everyday efficiency. Regarding email, Ferriss suggests that the key to handling a heavy load is to have a virtual assistant do the vast majority of it for you. You train them, they answer the emails, and only send you the few, important ones that actually do require your response.
4. Get the help you need: One of my favorite efficiency quotes ever is, “If you don’t have an assistant, you are an assistant.” Far too many small business people try and do everything themselves, it’s no wonder they are tired and stressed out. Getting some help frees you up from the mundane and allows you to use your time more effectively, so you can do what you should be doing: growing your business.
What are you able to do with one extra hour in your day? Share with the community below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.