Small Business Success: Managing the Clock

January 09, 2015 | Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Minnesota football fans have become used to losing contests due to poor clock management. From the old days, with take-a-knee Denny Green, to this year's bowl game loss, we've become somewhat accustomed to weekend disappointments.

Come Monday morning, though, it's a different story.

Like our customers, we're small business owners. So we're always trying to find ways to improve our productivity, helping us to compete—and help us to better serve our customers.

In this first of a series of productivity hacks for small business, we're sharing a couple of time management tips that can help to increase productivity inside small, service-based businesses. After all, time is money.

Manage the information flow

Information flies at us across every channel, every day. And that's great—we all want to be "in the know" in our industry, in our communities, in our circle of friends. But scanning the news online and checking emails can leak vast amounts of time from your day. Instead, limit how many times a day you check email.

And, when you do go online:

  • Touch it once—then put it away. Respond to everything you can immediately, file, or delete it.
  • Create file folders within your email and set automatic rules to route emails to those folders. Then, review these folders when you have a block of time free—things like important (but not urgent) industry information.
  • Subscribe to trusted news feeds that curate information that you can quickly scan and dive deeper at your leisure.

Don't try to multitask

Ridiculous, right? After all, the small business owner is often the CEO of everything from hiring employees to ordering toner to washing the windows. Still, multiple studies have shown up to a 40% productivity loss in switching from one task to another. Beat the net loss by grouping your daily activities into longer segments so that you can focus more time on things like customer relationship development, or business strategy.

Plan breaks

Just as you'd plan time to pay the monthly bills or roll out a new vaccination program, plan for short breaks every day and gain better overall efficiency. Studies performed by the FAA on pilot fatigue have demonstrated a significant improvement in focus when short breaks are interspersed between long working hours. And, a longer break—exercising over the lunch hour, for example--improves focus for hours.

For more from your small business peers on productivity, visit 31 Tips for Perfecting Your Productivity. Or send us some of your best time management tips and tricks—we'd love to hear from you!

ManagementProductivity Small Business

Pamela Youngberg Dickson

Before she came to Smart-Fill, Pamela developed marketing strategy and content for a range of technology start-ups and large-cap enterprises. Outside the office, she's into gardening, renaissance history, the Big Ten, and exploring the great outdoors.