Four common time thieves for your small businesses - and how to avoid them

Last week we looked at some of the things you can learn about your business when you track your time. But you can also use time tracking to identify all of the time that disappears every day from distractions, interruptions and good old-fashioned procrastination. Here are some common “time thieves”, and a few tips for overcoming them:

Work, Interrupted

When you look at your time for a given day, how many uninterrupted blocks of time can you find? This Fast Company interview with researcher Gloria Mark gives some great insights into how interruptions can significantly hinder our productivity - including how it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to our full work levels after every interruption. Her recommendation? Stay disciplined and block out some dedicated “non-interruptible” time to limit distractions.

Delegate to save time

If you find that you’re spending a lot of time on routine work like website troubleshooting or admin, could this time be better spent managing high-level tasks like growing your business? If so, could you delegate those routine tasks and free yourself up to concentrate on the more “valuable” parts of your work? Check out this list of online tools and services that could help you delegate better.

Streamline your social

Maintaining a strong social media presence can be very rewarding for small businesses - but if you’re spending a lot of time on social media, it may be worth making sure you’re getting the most value out of that time. This list from Hubspot gives some great tips for reviewing and streamlining your social media activity - including limiting time spent on networks where your customers aren’t particularly active, and cutting the amount of unnecessary metrics you currently track. If you’re spending too much time actually managing and populating your accounts, why not see if there’s a dedicated app or online tool that can help make things easier?

Monotask - don’t multitask

When you’re running a business, it’s difficult not to constantly try and juggle priorities or stay on top of a dozen things at once. But the problem is that you’re actually unlikely to able to do this effectively. Researchers believe that just 2% of people have the right brainpower to be competent “supertankers”, while the rest of us see our productivity drop when we try to do multiple things at once. So if your daily time report is full of multi-tasking at the moment, why not try scheduling “appointment time” to focus on a specific task, or write a daily to-do list to schedule your key priorities.

Do you have a hot tip for overcoming time thieves when you’re working? Drop us a line on twitter or leave a comment and let us know. Have a great weekend!

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