Top tips to help you deal with the rigours of business more efficiently
Five ways to save time and enhance your productivity
At the start of every business venture, we all crave that extra time.
You can stay 10, 12, or 16 hours in the office, but still don’t seem to get anything done. I was like that. I worked all day, and when I left the office, I would continue to work from the backseat of my car, emailing, or returning calls. My bedtime wasn’t spared. I would type away on my phone until my eyes could not stay open.
As your journey evolves, you will come to find that time and not money is the most precious commodity you own. You will also come up with your own methods of saving time. Although unfortunately we can’t invent more time in our day, I have found that the following ways not only save you time, but will lead to more productivity and, most importantly, a happier you.
1. Prepare in advance
One of the things that waste time in the morning is to go to your office and do not know what to work on first. My notebook has been my saviour for the past few years. Every night I write down a list of things I need to work on the next day. That way when I wake up in the morning and head to my office, I instantly dive in to work. If you are more into digital apps, then check out those online apps meant to make your daily tasks easier such as Todoist and Wunderlist.
2. Cancel unnecessary meetings
From my career experience, nothing wastes more time than meetings that are nor necessary. They divide your day into useless segments such as and could have been conducted over the phone rather than in-person or via email. Another great way to cut meetings short is to conduct them while standing up. That way you will avoid unnecessary small talk and cut straight to point. In addition, instead of travelling to a meeting say in Dubai or another part of town, consider doing it over the phone or over Skype. This does not apply to all sorts of meetings, but the majority of them could be conducted this way.
3. Automate and outsource.
As I have highlighted in previous columns, mundane and administrative tasks eat up a large chunk of your day and brain activity when you could be doing something better and far more important. If you have the financial ability to hire staff, then hire an admin who would be in charge of these tasks. Alternatively, I am a strong advocate of outsourcing these tasks to numerous online platforms/virtual assistants who could be doing that for a fraction of the price. Tasks that can be automated include accounting, social media, graphic design, emails and admin.
4. Avoid social media
The thing with social media is that once you log into your account to check something, a whole hour could just drift by without you feeling it. When you are at work, log out of your accounts, and make it a habit to check your accounts when you are not the office. If you can do so with personal emails, then I suggest you do that as well. A business colleague of mine is so rigid with this. She made it a rule that she only checks her social media accounts once a day before going to sleep. Doing so, she found more time to focus on important business issues, catch up on her readings, as well as spend time on physical human interactions, which we tend to miss out on.
5. Schedule in your breaks
This is perhaps one of the things I miss about school. We had a recess and a lunch break scheduled at a specific time. Doing so, we knew that we had to stay focus, and study until 10am for our recess break, and then again at 12:30pm for our lunch break. The same should be applied for your business, but instead of just having one break at 1pm, which is the norm in many orgnaisations, try to schedule in mini ones in between. For example every hour, schedule a five-minute break to stretch your muscles, and to look away from your computer screen. You can then schedule a 20-minute recess in the morning and then an hour for lunch. These breaks are not only good to enhance your productivity but to sustain your health and wellbeing.
The thing is that as much as we crave time we often do things such as pulling up our phone to check our social media feed, or wasting our time doing mundane tasks. But a minute wasted here and another there adds up to so much time that could have been used to focus on more important things.
Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer who manages her branding and marketing consultancy in Abu Dhabi.