Four Counterintuitive Timesavers for Small Business Owners
by Dave Crenshaw, Bestselling Business Author, Speaker, and Coach
“There aren’t enough hours in the day” becoming your new mantra? Finding the daily time crunch a bit chaotic? For chaotic, crazy busy entrepreneurs it can be difficult to find extra time in your day. Most entrepreneurs instinctively battle the clock by multitasking—my ultimate no-no. They also pack their day with back-to-back projects and meetings. In fact, many of the things you were taught to do by “time management experts” are the very opposite of best practices for 21st-century time management.
Instead, here are four counterintuitive challenges to conventional productivity that any small business owner can use to unlock mounds of free time:
Time-Saving Idea #1: Avoid Multitasking.
Many people pride themselves on their ability to multitask and think they’re being more productive when they do it. The reality is exactly opposite. Because your brain is only able to focus on one attention-requiring task at a time, you get less done. You make more mistakes. You also increase your stress levels due to mental overload. This is why in my book, The Myth of Multitasking, I more accurately re-labeled most multitasking as “switchtasking.” By focusing on one attention-requiring activity at a time, you’ll get more done faster, with less error, and feel more relaxed.
Time-Saving Idea #2: Schedule Less.
You may be tempted, because you have so much to do as a business owner, to pack your schedule full to the brim. If you do that, you’re not leaving room for inevitable interruptions such as customers requiring attention, employees confronting crises, and even vital digital interruptions. Heck, you may be even missing out on travel time and the, ahem, biological necessities. Leave no room for error, and you’ll always be behind, always playing catch up, which will actually cost you more time as you recover from the resulting errors. No—schedule less. Leave buffer space in between your appointments for those unexpected interruptions.
Time-Saving Idea #3: Procrastinate More.
Huh, you ask? When I say “procrastinate” in reality I mean “good procrastination,” which entails scheduling things in your calendar further into the future. The tendency for most chaotic entrepreneurs is to have a very short-term vision. They’re thinking about doing things next week or in two weeks. Instead, expand your vision to include months, or even years. Give yourself permission to take an appropriate amount of time to get things done. When you schedule something in your calendar further in advance, you’ll leave room for more essential items that pop up.
Time-Saving Idea #4: Allow Little Vices.
When I talk about little vices, I’m referring to things like watching YouTube videos, or spending time on Facebook, or even playing video games. If you tell yourself you can’t do those things, you’ll actually create an addictive cycle with your brain where you’ll be cramming it in throughout the day—often at inappropriate times. The result is actually more time spent on such activities. I once coached a business owner who was spending 20 hours a week at work playing video games. When we discovered that, we decided to not fight it, but instead schedule five hours a week to play those games. The result? He got the same relaxation in a shorter period of time, allowing him to be more productive throughout the entire week.
Let’s be honest, it’s natural to want to attempt to multitask like a supercomputer, fill every minute of the day with action, avoid delays, and shun vices. Rather than letting these practices eat up your time, make them work to your advantage. Turn your burdens of interruptions into opportunities for improvement, embrace your innate ability to procrastinate properly, allow time for guiltless vices, and for Pete’s sake—STOP trying to multitask!
By understanding that some things are inevitable for small business owners, you’ll find that it’s easier and more beneficial to accommodate your schedule around them and make your days far more productive. Indulge yourself a little—it’s good for you.
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