Time management is important to SMEs, as this is the one resource that can’t really be bought. For small businesses, limited staffing and a small budgets are common. For SME team leaders, this negatively impacts their work-life balance, often resulting in those at the top taking zero holidays throughout the year.
However, there are a few tools that can help to reduce the workload and save time, but they all require team effort. This is why sharing is caring in small business time management. In other words, it’s essential to rally your team so that you’re all on the same page. Creating a family-like team produces a high-performance group that’s more productive and increasingly invested in the goals of the business.
1. Make Use of Small Business Telephone Plans
Small business phone plans are specifically designed for businesses that struggle to communicate. These types of systems make sure that your team can effectively handle incoming calls at their earliest convenience. Sharing call-handling is a key practice for small businesses where employees often have varied job roles. By using a mobile application that has an inbuilt calendar, your employees can schedule time slots when they will be available to take incoming calls.
This also means that an employee’s workload is spread more evenly when they’re working on other tasks or in a meeting, as their device will automatically divert calls for them. It can be tempting to try to multitask in a time-starved environment, but focusing on one activity at a time has proven to be more effective.
2. Tap into Digital Training Tactics
Unfortunately, most of the time when small businesses are stretched, they can begin to neglect any process that isn’t client-facing or marked as urgent. But staff training is a must in every organisation. Staff training is great for boosting employee morale, which is often affected by a heavy workload. If you don’t have time to run a regular workshop, that’s understandable. As an effective alternative, you should consider subscribing to a masterclass website like Udemy to share bite-sized lessons with your workforce.
Whatever sector you operate in, these types of learning platforms cater to all sorts of topics, from entrepreneurship to engineering. It can also be a great way for your employees to expand their knowledge in a specific area so that they can work towards their next career goal from experts in that field. After all, skill shortages are the main productivity barrier in SMEs — a barrier you can now overcome in-house.
3. Send Messages via Slack and Skype
Internal communication is essential in any business, but it’s also a notorious time-waster. There is a fine line between too much and too little. If you are currently communicating in-house via email, you should immediately terminate this process, as email has been proven to be one of the biggest distractions at work. Recent studies have found that people spend around 11.7 hours of their working week in their work inboxes (we spend an additional 5.3 hours on our personal accounts!) Further research has indicated that most of these emails are internal (around 75,000 out of 95,000). Maybe this is because long threads can become incredibly confusing if there is a group conversation happening via email.
If this is the case, you should think about switching to instant messengers like Slack, where you can set up dedicated channels with multiple participants. Even better, you could limit your internal communication to one weekly Skype call to discuss progress on a given project. Especially in meetings, we tend to stretch an agenda to meet the allocated time. If a meeting is scheduled to last an hour, you’ll find a way to make it last that long. Setting a strict agenda and only making a meeting as long as it needs to be will promptly reveal how much time we waste communicating non-essential details.
4. Power Projects with Shared Timeline Tools
If you need to get to the nitty-gritty of a shared task, implement project management tools that allow you to segment a larger task into sub-tasks. This avoids unnecessary confusion and helps whoever is managing the project to see who is on track with their contribution. It also gives each team member accountability for their part in the process for a clear-cut way to delegate tasks. Delegating tasks can be difficult to do in a small business setting, as many managers tend to hoard responsibility or micromanage. Popular project management tools like Asana and Trello take away the verbal input for a more objective view on task sharing.
5. Deliver Better Work by Delegating Tasks
In a similar vein to what we said previously, delegating tasks (no matter how you do it) is essential. As a small business leader, be honest and realistic with yourself about your schedule. Utilising your team’s strengths in specific areas and building a team to deal with a specific problem is the key to effective time management and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
If you need to use a personal time management tool to achieve this, try time blocking. This is a time-management technique that works very simply — you allocate time solely to a given task, which helps you to see the feasibility of your schedule. This visual aid will be an instant indicator as to whether you need an extra helping hand in certain departments.