Wasting time is one of life’s most dangerous distractions – whether it’s slacking off on schoolwork as a child or being unproductive at work, time wastage is a threat to businesses whether you’re an employer or employee.
For entrepreneurs, business owners and managers alike, time-wastage is an expense that needs to be streamlined. Employees cannot always be working, but minimising downtime and boosting productivity is a must.
1. Rethink social media
Social media is practically essential for businesses in this day and age, but can be a time sink if used improperly. According to The Wall Street Journal, $112 billion worth of lost time is wasted on social media each year by US businesses.
However, social media is definitely worth pursuing – 83% of marketers agree that social media is important for their business. With these things in mind, a business should certainly use social media – but also ensure no time is wasted. Here are some productivity hacks to keep your social media streamlined.
Employees using personal social media can be a timesink, so as a business you need to decide if you’re going to allow them to use social platforms during work hours. 54% of businesses completely prohibit usage.
When it comes to business-specific social media, cutting down on wasted time is a matter of picking a limited number of channels and focussing on them. With such a vast array of social media platforms available, it can be tough for businesses to choose the right ones.
Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and Instagram are the main areas to concentrate on. Facebook is the largest social media platform with the most active users, but a younger brand may be more successful on a platform like Instagram – where 400 million users of a younger demographic spend their time.
However, no business has just one social platform. Managing a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account can be a time-consuming task (and a full-time role at some larger businesses) – so an SME needs to use a tool that can manage their social channels.
Facebook and Twitter allow a business to schedule posts – so devising a monthly calendar and setting up automated posts can be a way to cut down on time wasted.
However, being proactive and engaging in multiple channels sometimes means a business can’t just set up scheduled posts and sit back – when things happen in the ‘here and now’ you need to react. Use a tool like Hootsuite to manage multiple social accounts in real time.
2. Cut down on email time wastage
Emails are a completely essential part of daily life. They’re the most common tool for businesses communication, but can also be a source of time-wastage – especially when a user has too many to get through.
85% of participants in a study by the IABC (International Association of Business Communications) reported that email overload was a negative factor in their working day. 40% of them spent two hours daily responding to email and 35% spent three hours or more.
Even the average person receives 121 emails a day – for employees and management, this number could be considerably higher. Clearly, cutting down on email time wasting is a factor.
In order to actually cut down on time wasted on emails in a business setting, there are a number of hacks you can perform:
- Use a dedicated time period for checking and responding to emails. For instance, the “Pomodoro” technique is a work theory that sees you performing 25 minutes of focused work followed by 5 minutes for an email break.
- Using an email management tool such as Mail Manager by Oasys Software can help file, share and archive emails quickly and efficiently.
- Turn off notifications during work hours so you don’t get distracted. Use your proactive time to check emails for importance.
If you assign a schedule and use an automated tool to help you, emails can become an easy thing to get through instead of a daily nuisance.
3. Ramp up your sales and marketing efforts
Sales and marketing can be a time-sink if not managed correctly, with inefficient methods and processes hampering productivity. For example, email marketing theoretically offers an ROI of 4300% (according to stats by Direct Marketing Association) – but is frequently mismanaged and ends up generating poor open rates for the time spent.
As with social media marketing, general sales and marketing tasks can eat up your day if not managed correctly. Here are some hacks to boost sales and increase reach.
- The world of technology has helped optimise lots of outdated sales processes. For example, a CRM (client relationship management) system can keep track of leads and opportunities and track interactions – much better than a diary and pen.
- Email marketing services like Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor allow you to create, design and manage your email campaign. They do this job so efficiently that it’s almost redundant to manage campaigns any other way.
- Hire freelancers on sites like Upwork and Peopleperhour if you need expert help to boost your marketing efforts.
4. Stop micromanaging
Anyone that employs staff can spend too much time in a day micromanaging their staff. This can create lots of problems, from your employees disliking you for not trusting them, to you breaking down their workflow and ignoring your own duties. With that in mind, it’s something you need to cut down on as soon as you start doing it.
- Using a collaborative workspace tool like Podio or Asana, or just a shared document like Google docs can help you and employees collaborate without the need for micromanagement. You’ll all be able to see one another’s work and assign tasks as necessary.
- Consult an employee’s schedule before you head to their desks to make sure you’re not distracting them from tight deadlines.
- Hire skilled professionals so that you trust them to do their work. This trust will be reciprocated, leading to a better collaborative environment.
5. Cease procrastination
Whether it’s checking your text messages, browsing the news or having a coffee break for far too long, procrastination is rife in the workplace. Even internal meetings can be a waste of time, with no clear actions derived and time taken up by meaningless business lingo.
- Define the goals of each and every meeting. If no discernible actions can be driven as a result of the meeting, it probably wasn’t worth having.
- Install a productivity app on your PC to prevent procrastination. Using a CRM style tool that tracks how you spend your time can help boost productivity and keep you accountable for the time you’ve used.
- Different work environments can affect productivity. One type of business will benefit from open plan office spaces, another may suffer as a result. Changing the environment based on employee feedback might help.
Cutting down on time wasting tasks, increasing productivity and streamlining your workplace can lead to a far better working day and a far more efficient business. If you’ve got any productivity tips, let us know in the comments.