When things get crazy, it pays to manage your time.
There is a vicious circle when it comes to being a contractor, especially a small- to medium-sized one: in order to grow, you need to bring in more jobs, but to bring in more jobs, you need to have more help. There is good news, however. The cycle has a loophole: good time management. When you and your team optimize your time, you become more efficient, allowing you to get more done with less. Do that well enough, and you can grow your team when the time is right for your budget. Here are five steps to get you started.
1. Set Goals
Keep them simple and write them down. Also, make sure to give them a deadline. This acts to focus your energy and keeps you accountable for your actions (or inaction). They can be as basic as answering all of your email by noon or as ambitious as implementing a new training program by January 1. Just make sure your goals are realistic (this doesn’t necessarily mean “easy,” but nothing is as disheartening as missing a deadline or giving up a project altogether). Use goals to track progress in bite-sized chunks rather than setting upon grandiose plans that only seem to get further out of reach as time goes on.
2. Reduce Interruptions
Smartphones can be pesky. If they’re not ringing, they’re busy telling you about emails or texts. These mini miracles of science are constantly competing for our attention with your staff, your customers and even your family. It gets even worse if you happen to be a micro-manager (don’t look so innocent . . . you know who you are). You will be surprised at how much you can get done if you set aside an hour (or whatever makes sense for you and your company) each day by delegating responsibilities to your team and going incommunicado. Research shows that humans get a lot accomplished when they focus on one thing at a time, and a little bit of interruption-free “me” time will prove it.
3. Implement Systems
If you do happen to be a micro-manager, you’ve likely created a business that can’t stay in business without you around. It’s a common problem, but the solution is fairly simple: show others how to do parts of your job. Spend some time thinking about how you like to perform a certain task, write down the steps, then use those steps to train somebody else to complete them. If you take your time and do this right, the time you spend developing your systems will pay off immeasurably as you discover that two or three or four things can get done at the same time if you aren’t the only one doing them. Better yet, with a system in place, your team can change, but the job gets done the same way (as long as your new employees follow the written system).
4. Keep Track Of Time
It’s strange, but one of the hardest parts of managing time is determining where all of your time is going. You can make an educated guess, of course, but it’s still a guess. You might be surprised at the little sidetracks that consume your day without you knowing it. If you track time for your techs, just adopt a similar system for you and the rest of the management team – and if you’re not tracking time in your company at all, start doing it today. You can’t figure out what jobs and tasks are a waste of time until you know how – exactly – your time is being spent.
5. Partner With Your Supplier
A common theme in time management, it would seem, is simply finding help. In this respect, a good supplier is a resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. At DSG, for example, we help customers out with everything from worksite delivery to inventory management. We help with the bidding process, we seek out innovative new products and we find solutions for problems that require outside-the-box thinking. Meanwhile, our customers are able to spend less time on those undertakings and more time on the challenges that require their unique knowledge and skills. Best of all, DSG is flexible. Even if we’ve never done it, sold it or heard of it, we’re willing to find out what it takes to accomplish it. Just ask. These five tips will probably not change your life, but they may very well improve your business. Try them out, even if you do it one at a time. The time you save could be more valuable than you know.