Between the two of us, we have been in business for more than 60 years. We have managed thousands of employees and worked with dozens of executives and hundreds of business owners to help them be more productive. And throughout our experience, we have found all those people expressing a common theme: There is never enough time.
Entrepreneurs and small business owners, in fact, are always pressed for time. But what's important here is how much of this problem stems from focusing on the wrong things.
So many leaders we've seen spend time on mundane tasks that could be better and less expensively accomplished by others. As Wayne Rivers in the Wall Street Journal commented, “If they devoted a few more hours per week to business development, long-term business planning, communicating their vision and values among their teams, rigorously evaluating their talent and getting super-competent new hires on board, and improving corporate quality, they’d see dividends and impact immediately.”
We agree. But, how do you find these magic hours that you can use to grow your business? To find a solution, let’s explore the way to recapture at least one extra week of time this year. The math is actually very easy and only takes a few minutes:
Fifty-two weeks x 40 hours per week equals 2,080 hours of work time each year. Most organizations consider this a standard work year. Said another way: That 2,080 hours of work in a year is equal to 260 eight-hour workdays in a year.
However, most of us don’t work 260 days each year. Some time is allotted to vacation, sick leave and holidays. When we deduct those days from the schedule, most people work about 240 days each year.
Using 240 days as our yardstick, if we waste just two minutes each workday, 2 minutes wasted each day x 240 workdays equals 480 minutes wasted in a year.
And, 480 minutes equals an eight-hour workday.
Using this same formula, ten minutes wasted each day is equivalent to a 40-hour workweek at the end of the year. The math is staggering. If you add just ten minutes of productive time to your day, that is the equivalent of adding a week of work over a year’s time. A few minutes here and there does matter.
Studies show that employees waste approximately three hours a day. We think that business owners and entrepreneurs are probably slightly less wasteful. Emails meetings, and interruptions seem to be the biggest culprits for stealing time away from more important matters.
However, disorganization and looking for items and information cost executives and employees alike hours of time each day. You can't eliminate all of those time wasters, but you can make a dent. Remember, just ten minutes a day adds up to a week of work by year's end.
Check your email less. We recommend checking email no more than six times during a workday. If you are someone who checks your email more often, you probably have something that notifies you when you receive an email. Turn those notifications off. Then, check your emails at the beginning of the day, mid-morning, before and after lunch, mid-afternoon and before you leave for the day. That's it! Email was never intended to be instant messaging.
Cut some of the chatting. Socializing in the office is important. But, a casual “good morning” can become a 20-minute conversation about what someone did over the weekend. Be conscious of how much time you spend chatting. A little is good. Too much is a time-sink.
Spend less time on social media. Unless it is part of your social media strategy, don’t spend time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like. It is easy to spend 15 minutes, 30 minutes or longer reading, liking and commenting on posts. You know the math. These bits of time add up quickly. Break the social media habit by staying off your favorite platforms during work hours. That abstinence will quickly become the norm and you will gain hours of time.
Learn to delegate. As the business owner, you are the most valuable resource in the office. Start treating yourself that way. Don’t waste time running errands, making deliveries, cleaning up, fixing copiers and making coffee. Your time is expensive. Spend it on important matters. Delegate these and other tasks to employees.
Ten minutes a day is a week of work at year's end. If you focus on ways to save minutes, you will actually save hours. Curtailing wasteful habits while directing your time and talents to the more important issues and opportunities will give you the time you need to grow your organization.