Friday, June 29, 2007

Overworked? You Don’t Have to Be.

As a business owner, efficiency is critical. Although there are many perks to being your own boss, one major downside is that the workday never ends. The weight of responsibility can be daunting and the guilt can be crushing if things aren’t running smoothly or your employees end up carrying those responsibilities as well.

It’s only natural that as a business owner, many hours will be devoted to your company, including the sleep lost when you’re up at night worrying. Luckily, there are a few guidelines that you can practice to ensure that life isn’t swallowed up in the chaos.

Meetings – meetings can take up half your day before you even know what hit you when they are unstructured and unorganized, irrelevant and too long.

So how can you make company/staff meetings more effective?

Preparation – never come to a meeting unprepared. Stick to a plan and prioritize topics so that the most important topics are sure to be discussed and announced before time runs out. If the meeting time is up and you haven’t gotten to your low priority topics – include them in a company email (this should already be written out in the meeting notes you’ve prepared).

Segmentation – although it’s great to include everyone and get them up to speed on what all the departments are doing, chances are, they aren’t really going to be that engaged if it doesn’t pertain to them. Wherever possible, segment meetings and include only those that need to know about the topics at hand. In some cases, these people can be the messengers of high level takeaways to those that weren’t in the meeting.

Time Restraints – set a time limit and stick to it. This means that meetings should not even begin late and once that clock hits the hour mark, the meeting is over.

Make Strategic Decisions – business owners often get stuck taking over all tasks that don’t exactly fall into any employee job descriptions. Before you start blindly taking care of anything and everything, think about whether or not it is truly a valuable use of your time.

How can you spend your time more strategically?

Delegation – before you stop and say there is no one else to do the job, really think about it. Too often we are running reports, errands and meetings out of habit. So take the time and figure out if there is anyone better suited for the task at hand and if not, can there be? Can you hire an intern to help with the day to day?

Networking – make sure the time spent networking are with those that truly represent an opportunity for a strategic partnership, new client, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in those golf games, but let’s not forget about the bottom line.

Utilize Down Time – on hold? Write a to do list. Take advantage of the time you are in your car and make important phone calls, if you take the bus to work use the time to catch up on news, phone calls, email, etc.

There’s no need to work past midnight – just remember to work smart, not hard and you’ll have more time for other important life endeavors.