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Time Management

How U.K. Small Business Owners Can Eliminate Wasted Days by Creating Their Ideal Working Week

Here are ways to boost your productivity, gain 100 percent control and achieve more by doing less.
How U.K. Small Business Owners Can Eliminate Wasted Days by Creating Their Ideal Working Week
Image credit: Shutterstock
Guest Writer
Founder and CEO of Selina & Co.
7 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the rise of business ownership and entrepreneurship in the U.K., the traditional 9-to-5 has become obsolete, as on average we are working 52 hours a week -- 63 percent longer than the average worker, according to research by Penelope.

However, a report by Sage shows that small businesses are wasting an average of 120 working hours a year on administrative tasks.

Related: Emotions and Entrepreneurship: Mental Health in Europe

With our focus on successful business growth, we are unconsciously driving in burnout mode, which has a negative effect on our well-being. Significant effects of working long hours include stress, lack of free time, poor work-life balance and health risks. A report published in the Lancet medical journal based on an analysis of more than half a million people, shows that people working long hours are more likely to have a stroke. The data shows that working over 55 hours per week increases the chance of a stroke by 33 percent.

Winning back your time

You don't have to work 60 or more hours a week, you can actually be more productive by working 40 hours or fewer a week.

By working in genius mode you can move the needle forward in your business, which will make you more efficient and boost your productivity.

If you are constantly buried in an avalanche of work with the pressure to work longer hours to complete your neverending to-do list, follow these simple steps to eradicate the overload and find freedom in your business.

Ditch the bad habits.

First and foremost, you need to get rid of your bad habits as this kills productivity. There are several ingredients that are keeping us unproductive; awareness of these bad habits is the first step to erasing them from your working week.

Distractions such as television and social media are the worst time stealers. Turn off notifications that pop up on your screen such as new emails, social media posts, text messages, etc. Removing these alerts will get you back on track to focus on what is most important.

Review your tools and consolidate them. They can be helpful but at times you may have multiple tools effectively doing the same job. A fantastic web-based project management tool is Trello, where you can organize your projects via boards to stay on top of multiple tasks and deadline. The best part is that you are able to share access with your team, upload documents and exchange conversations all in one place.

Your morning routine is the most important to kickstart your day into the right frame of mind. Make sure you have a nutritional breakfast without rushing. If you are always in a hurry in the morning, try waking up slightly earlier and utilizing the free app HeadSpace which offers meditation and mindfulness techniques that calm and bring wellness and balance to your life.

Other major bad habit culprits are saying yes all the time, having a huge to-do list, multitasking, responding to emails as they enter your inbox, eating at your desk and reading emails before you go to bed.

Once you have resolved these you are on your way to shaving hours off your week and heading to success.

Related: The Differences in Corporate Culture in the U.K. vs. the U.S.

Automate.

Automate recurring tasks so they can be completed automatically and more quickly than you. It's one of the best ways to save time within your business. Review your current operations processes to figure out which tasks do not need to be completed by you. You can automate lots of different tasks from capturing leads, managing your sales pipeline, welcome emails to new customers and remembering every customer's birthday.

It may take a little time to set up the initial automation process, but once you have it set up it will save you a lot of time in the long run. It also makes it easier to identify any problems within your process that you can fix or tweak to make it even more seamless.

A really good example of an automation software is Zapier. It saves you so much time and hassle by connecting together with your favorite apps so you can finish routine tasks automatically. For example, you can connect Gmail and Dropbox and set a rule (zap) so when you receive a new email, the email attachment will file automatically in Dropbox.

If you are repeatedly sending similar emails daily but have to search for the last sent email to copy and paste into a new email, this is a waste of valuable time. Instead, set up Gmail canned responses by creating email templates saved in your mailbox for easy use.

Eliminate and delegate.

As business owners, we often take on more than we need to, but reaching full capacity means that something has to give. 

Delegation is a tough nut to crack, as a lot of business owners tend to be micromanagers and often feel it takes longer to explain the task so they end up doing it themselves. This is counterproductive; you must delegate in order to see growth your business. If you are the chef, waitress and dishwasher in your business, how can you strategically focus? Review your to-do list and only work on tasks that are high leverage tasks and delegate the rest. Getting clarity on what you should be focusing on is really important.

As a virtual personal assistant, I advise my clients to focus on the three things that they must absolutely get done today. Focus on these objectives to avoid feeling overwhelmed. This will advance your business and the reward will make you feel great about being free to focus on income producing activities.

Related: European Businesses Need to Adapt to Millennial Employees

Structure your week.

Scheduling your week may sound over the top, but it will give you 100 percent control.

Having a work routine is essential to getting into productivity mode. Without this you might as well not show up to work as this is a recipe to failure and realistically you will be working long hours trying to get through what you think you need to do, relentlessly running on a hamster wheel. Crafting your week will help you find your productivity peak, offering vision and attention where it should be.

Use your calendar to schedule your week and focus on the rule thta whatever gets scheduled gets done. The key here is to batch similar tasks together. For example, block book your phone calls, meetings, checking and responding to emails for a certain day or time, and decide that out of office meetings only happen on Friday mornings. Strategically block specific time in your calendar when you feel you are at your best to work on tasks that generate revenue and deliver results. Once you are fully focused, it's easier to work on the same type of tasks rather than having to stop and start again the next day and so forth.

If you remove distractions, automate, eliminate, delegate and create a structure to your week you will soon discover that your tasks are reduced and more manageable. The result is important tasks get done, reduction in working hours, while still enjoying your life.

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