Have you ever been in a meeting where most of the participants don’t participate? Do many of your meetings seem like an excuse for coffee and croissants? Executives are estimated to spend an average of 23 hours a week in meetings. That is over half a working week. Meetings are not working. They do not help to get things done. If most of the people in the room are only listening, then they could have been working on something productive instead. Work collaboratively, by all means, but don’t just “meet”. So, look at how and whom you meet, and reclaim your time from meetings.
Do you start your day by opening your inbox, and working through your emails, providing a timely and carefully crafted response to every email you have received? When you have finished, do you ever look at the time, and realise you are half-way, or more, into your morning? Do you feel that you have achieved something by clearing that backlog? What do you do when a notification appears after you have just completed your inbox clearing? On average the office worker spends 2½ hours a day reading and answering emails, that ten hours per working week, or given the minimum UK paid holidays of 5.6 weeks a year, 464 hours, or 19? days per year, (assuming you don’t answer them on holidays or weekends). If this is you, then you are guilty of tackling tasks chronologically, rather than by priority, and certainly not in any way related to your goals. So, turn off the email notifications, take back control of your inbox and 2½ hours a day.
Or more precisely the wrong type of planning. Don’t get me wrong. You need to know where your business is headed. What are your long-term goals for your business? What do you need to do to get there? What do you need to do today, next quarter, next year? These questions are all important to have an answer for. The problem comes when you choose the wrong level of detail for your plan. Have you ever planned out the whole of your next year, day by day, and completed every step, with no external factors changing your plans? If you answered yes, then go and buy a lottery ticket, you must be an extremely lucky individual (or read a book on statistics and put your money in the bank). The reality is that the majority of the time, plans need to change, life happens, and you must adapt. If you spent days planning every last detail and then you have to change it all, then you will waste more time in re-planning. So, learn more about how to plan no more than you need to, and become more productive.
Keep with me on this one. Clearly, you are going to have to work on your business. The productivity drain comes when you are working on things that you don’t need to. Are you doing something that drives your business forward, and that meets your long term goals? Are you doing something that someone else could do? Would they do it more quickly, better and for less money? Don’t forget the opportunity cost. Although you may only just be starting out, and you may not have the cash to spend, you could be doing something that you would be getting paid more for. Can the work you are doing be done in a more efficient process? Can that process be automated? So, work on your business goals, and don’t get bogged down on things you don’t need to.
Running a business is hard work, and you have many plates to keep spinning. If you are worrying too much about the one that is wobbling, then the others may be soon to follow. Problems are opportunities. Take a decision and put everything into making it work. If it doesn’t work, then review the issues, and formulate a new strategy, but don’t dwell on the old, forge on with the new. Anxiety and stress can be spread around your team. If you have a negative outlook, then others may begin to pick up on it, and the whole office takes a dive. So, be positive and use your time to drive productive change. SwiftCase helps thriving businesses, swamped by growing demand, automate and organise, to focus on what matters — loved by 1000s of users across Insurance, Finance, Legal, Service & Contractor sectors.