November 20, 2014

50 Time Saving Tips for Small Businesses

50

As a small business owner, free time is probably not something you have a whole lot of. What you do have a lot of are tasks to accomplish and deadlines to meet. So how can you better accomplish these tasks in a shorter amount of time?

Below are 50 time saving tips to help you save time throughout your workday.

50 Time Saving Tips for Small Businesses

1. Set Goals

Each morning, write out a detailed to-do list of the things you want to accomplish that day.

2. Create a Plan

Figure out when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list – will you need help, supplies, etc.?

3. Prioritize by Importance

It’s inevitable that sometimes you’ll have to cut items off your to-do list, so decide early what the most important items are and prioritize.

4. Prioritize by Urgency

You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines so leave the ones that are due next week for later.

5. Break Down Large Tasks

If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks.

6. Be Realistic

Don’t expect to accomplish everything in an hour. Know your limitations and your abilities.

7. Track Your Time

In order to better understand how you really spend your time, take a few days and write down everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, email, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are.

8. Set Deadlines

Need some motivation to complete a project? Set a deadline for yourself and tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.

9. Keep One Eye on the Clock

You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.

10. Set Reminders

If you have a deadline or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone that will go off shortly before.

11. Schedule Breaks

Everyone needs to take breaks throughout the day, so make sure to account for them when scheduling your tasks for the day.

12. Schedule Time for Email and Social Media

Email and social media can be big time wasters. Don’t respond to every email as it comes in and don’t leave Facebook or Twitter open all day. Instead, schedule a short block or two throughout the day to accomplish these tasks.

13. Use a Central Social Media Management System

If you use social media for marketing purposes, you likely have more than one account. Using a central dashboard like HootSuite can help you avoid going back and forth between sites, and even allows you to schedule posts throughout the day so you don’t need to constantly sign back on.

14. Avoid Distractions

Aside from social media and email, there are a number of other distractions that can cause you to waste time throughout the day. If you work at home, turn off the TV. If you work in an office, take a different route to the water cooler to avoid chatty co-workers.

15. Stick to One Task at a Time

Multi-tasking can sound like a time saver, but it isn’t. Focus on one task, complete it and then move on.

16. Batch Tasks

It can be helpful to do similar tasks consecutively. For example, make all your phone calls for the day back-to-back.

17. Incentivize Tasks

When you have a really difficult task to complete, give yourself a reward for completing it. It can be as simple as taking a break.

18. Focus on Results

You should have an idea about why you are doing each task on your list. Ask yourself how each item will impact your company and focus on results.

19. Don’t Stress Over Unimportant Details

If something doesn’t have a big impact on your business, don’t stress about it. Perfectionism can be a big time waster.

20. Create Good Habits

Create a habit of sorting files regularly, responding to emails in a timely manner and quickly accomplishing any other tasks that show up on your to-do list so that it quickly becomes routine.

21. Eliminate the Non-Essential

Remove items that no longer serve a purpose to your mission, both physically and electronically.

22. Use Email Filters and Archives

Use email filters and archives so that you don’t spend hours looking for a particular message. Your email program most likely offers easy tools to keep all your communications organized, so make wise use of those features.

23. Limit Meetings

Meetings can be essential, but they can also turn into time wasters if they go on too long or happen too frequently. Accept and schedule only important meetings.

24. Hire a Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants can help you with mundane daily tasks like email, bookkeeping, scheduling and research. Consider getting yourself some help if you need it.

25. Utilize a Project Management Platform

Services like Basecamp offer your team a way to communicate in groups, set deadlines and share and edit files without having to keep up with several different email threads.

26. Keep Projects in One Place

For both completed projects and those still in progress, have one folder or area where you know you can find them.

27. Avoid Rush Hour

If you commute or have to travel for meetings, take traffic and construction into account so as to not waste time en route.

28. Have Virtual Meetings

Avoid traveling when possible and instead consider the use of programs like Skype or GoToMeeting.

29. Automate Payroll

Rather than manually tracking hours and expenses, invest in a payroll system that will do all the work for you.

30. Take Notes

Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down notes and ideas or use an app such as Evernote to store ideas, images and more so you don’t spend time trying to think of them later.

31. Take Advantage of Technology

There are so many time saving and organizational apps and services available such as Dropbox, which lets you bring your photos, docs and videos anywhere . Find the ones that work for you.

32. Don’t Get Carried Away

Attempting to master and utilize too many productivity applications and services at once can be a time waster. Don’t use so many of them that you spend more time on them than you save.

33. Delegate

Ask your team to take on tasks that you don’t have time for or those with which you know they’d do a good job.

34. Invest in Accounting Software

Keeping endless spreadsheets can lead to a lot of headaches and wasted time. Keep all your account information organized in one place.

35. Keep an Organized Workspace

Don’t spend hours rifling through your desk looking for a particular document when you could just implement a filing system and find it in seconds.

36. Back Up Your Files

Whether by external hard drive, hard copies or online backup, create backups of all your important files in case of a computer meltdown. Consider an online service like Carbonite or Mozy for this purpose.

37. Keep Templates for Commonly-Used Forms

Don’t spend time writing the same paragraphs over and over again when you could have a general template saved. Just go in and make a few updates each time you use it instead of starting from scratch.

38. Utilize Shortcuts

Use keyboard and browser shortcuts and keep all your commonly used programs in an easily accessible location on your desktop.

39. Automate Expenses

Make use of automatic bill pay services whenever possible to avoid late payments and time spent actually paying bills each month.

40. Use a Cloud-Based Calendar

Calendar apps can keep you updated on important meetings and deadlines and don’t take long to update. Consider using Google Calendar for this purpose.

41. Have a Collaboration System

Whether you use a platform like Basecamp or Google Docs or stick to more traditional methods, you should have a set system for collaboration so that your team doesn’t get confused and unorganized.

42. Say “No”

Don’t take on tasks just because someone asks you to. If you don’t have the time and it won’t help your business, don’t do it.

43. Make the Most of Down Time

Time spent in waiting rooms, on the subway or even on long elevator rides could be used to update your calendar, write notes or accomplish other simple tasks.

44. Clean Up Old Files

Ridding your computer of old files can not only keep you from having to wade through them while looking for more relevant files, but it can also speed up your computer and save you from a fate of endless loading pages.

45. Use Mobile Apps

There are mobile productivity apps, mobile calendar apps, mobile list apps – all of which can help you accomplish tasks and save time while not in front of a computer.

46. Know Your Habits

If you’re an early bird, get your most important tasks out of the way early. If you’re a night owl, don’t force yourself to turn in big projects in the morning. Play to your strengths.

47. Shorten Your Workday

In a blog post on Freelance Folder, Lexi Rodrigo explains that cutting time off your workday will force you to accomplish more within the time allotted.

48. Leave Room for the Unexpected

Things you didn’t plan for will come up throughout the day. Take this into account when making your to-do list.

49. Have Quiet Hours

If you work in an office, put a “do not disturb” sign on your door while you’re working on an important task. If you work from home, silence your phone for that time. If distractions come up when you’re in the zone, you can lose your concentration and end up spending way more time than necessary.

50. Don’t Over-Schedule

You might be overly optimistic in the morning about how much you can get done that day. But creating a too-full list is only going to overwhelm you later in the day.

If you implement even just a few of the time saving tips listed above, you will start to notice a difference in your workday and your productivity – and you may even notice that you have a little more free time.

More in: 60 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon - Staff Writer


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles and feature stories. She is a freelance writer specializing in marketing, social media, and creative topics. When she’s not writing for her various freelance projects or her personal blog Wattlebird, she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

60 Reactions

  1. I think that #6 and #32 are two of the most important, and possible overlooked, points. So many businesses may have unrealistic expectations about what their business can accomplish and they think that if they put in their 100%, they can match the big franchise businesses. Start small and work your way up.

    • I agree! I know I’ve overlooked both of those at times. Starting small and making sure you actually do a good job on the tasks you really need to get done can make such a big difference!

  2. very nicely compiled …if we can include even 25 of these into our schedule…our productivity will skyrocket. Should try and start implementing few and then chew in more of the above ..will start with # 50

  3. I don’t think people realize how important #42 Say No really is. If you are managing your time well, then you should know if and when you can say yes. But many people have a problem saying No because they don’t want to let down the other person, they want to be helpful, or some other reason. You have to first think about what they have on their “To Do” list and if you doing it will interfere with what’s important.

    • Exactly! No one wants to let down others or turn down interesting opportunities, but if you don’t have time then you just don’t have time.

  4. Great list. I would also add a favorite from Richard Branson. When asked “how can I be more productive?” Branson responded, “work out!”

    I’ve been on P90X and the Paleo Diet for a few months now. Trust me…life changing and energy abounds!

    Cheers, Bob

  5. Annie,

    This is a very impressive list of tips, I’ve already spotted areas where I can improve.

    #49 is an important one for me, it’s surprising how much this can improve productivity.

    I’ve been trying these quiet hours for a while now and I managed to get so much more done in the long run.

    Although with meetings and helping other staff, these quiet hours are few and far between, but they help a lot.

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