Running a smooth operation is as easy as having effective time management skills.Some experts say our habitual nature causes us to take up to 30 days of practice in order to make a change. Unfortunately, most of us don't have 30 days to spare, even if it's the right thing for our business. Why not? It's often because of poor time management.
If you are letting office chatter interrupt your daily tasks, leaving paperwork piled on your desk or refusing to decline each task asked of you, you may have ineffective time management skills. And this unmanaged time is lost money, according to Bob Losyk, president of Innovative Training Solutions, Inc.
Losyk, who spoke with Aftermarket Auto Parts Alliance members during their 2006 convention, says everyone has the choice to either waste time or use it productively. "What you do with your time depends on what you do with yourself. You've got to get better at managing yourself."
Among some of the biggest time wasters for our industry are unnecessary time spent on the phone or answering e-mails, frequent interruptions and not delegating activities among staff.
According to Losyk, many of these can be effectively controlled with proper time management. "Human nature is that we try to do things that are tension relieving rather than goal achieving" like gossiping with coworkers, he explains. "But you have to stay on track. Slot out a certain time of the day to return phone calls, or empower employees to make a decision on their own instead of running to you."
Passing the buck
For a store owner, lack of delegation could be the biggest time waster and can even result in diminished company profits. Often, we don't delegate because we don't trust our employees, says Losyk.
"Where does it say in the world that managers and owners are the only people who can do things right?" he asks. "It comes down to training and development, and we have to take the time to do that training."
Take advantage of people's strengths; for instance, a younger employee might be better equipped to run the computer.
More time savers
Follow these tips to save time and money at work every day.
1. Use the F.A.D. system for dealing with paperwork — file, act or discard. Touch paper only one time before handling it, Losyk notes.
2. Rearrange your desk so it is facing away from the door or schedule an hour each day to close your door to limit interruptions.
3. Create a monthly master calendar or to-do list for the entire company. Each month, list employees' doctor's appointments, days off and vacations to ensure you're never understaffed.
4. Prioritize. At the end of every day, compile a list of tasks that must be accomplished the next day. Read over the list and number them from most important to least. Not sure how to prioritize? Look at how your business would be impacted if a task does not get accomplished, and schedule the most crucial first.
5. Morning person or night owl? Know your work style and tackle the most difficult tasks when you have the most energy.