One of the biggest complaints I hear from small business owners and entrepreneurs is … there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done! This is something I struggle with as well. There never seems to be enough hours in the day!
Time is valuable. And it is something that we can’t get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. If you can identify your biggest time killers it will be easier to develop strategies to avoid them.
A time killer is anything that takes you away from other projects that are of higher priority. There are a lot of time killers in business and you should identify your time killers, look out for them, and stay away from them. Only then can you put your available time to the maximum possible use.
The time killers that I have listed below are ones that I encounter most often. But apart from these, each one of us may have unique time killers that are particular to our business niche.
Four of my most offensive Time Killers:
1. Telephone calls
2. Bad equipment
The list could of course go on. But these are ones that I deal with the most.
Phone calls can often be quick and to the point. The problem arises when one of the participants on the phone decides to turn a short question or answer into a lengthy conversation. This is why I personally prefer e-mail over a telephone call. It’s not uncommon to get someone on the phone who is not nearly as busy as you are and they want to spend time brainstorming or coming up with new ideas when that wasn’t the purpose of the call in the first place.
Schedule calls with a predetermined agenda and length of time. I try not to schedule calls until I’ve got a clear outline of what we are discussing and I’ve been provided with a scheduled start and stop time.
Announce at the beginning of the call that you have a limited amount of time. There are times when I just need to pick up the phone and work through a current project with someone. Or when a private client calls with a few questions. Whenever these situations arise, I always say, “I only have 10 minutes and then I have another scheduled appointment…” or “I only have a few minutes before my next appointment…” That way I’ve made it clear, right away, that the call must be kept short.
This is another terrible time waster. How many of you have wanted to take a hammer to your computer or copy machine? The equipment you use each day can kill hours of your time. If your equipment is not working properly, then you need to upgrade it or you’ll be left with a ton of frustration and wasted time.
Two years ago a client of mine sent me a file that contained a virus on it. My PC virus software did not catch it. It quickly disabled my computer and made it useless. I was able to copy all my files over to another PC … not knowing the infected file was part of the files I was transferring. It attacked my second computer and wiped it out too. I had one computer left and it shut it down as well. It took my IT Guy days to fix the problem. A few weeks later I chose to fix my PC problem for good and purchased two Macs.
A computer that takes a long time to boot up, a photocopier that gives shamefully faint photocopies, a stubborn drawer that doesn’t open easily, a calibration machine that doesn’t calibrate right, etc.– these can waste a lot of time and send you up the wall.
The solution to bad equipment is pretty simple: Get rid of it. If you have such equipment or machinery, get it changed at the earliest possible date. It is worth the cost when you take into account the amount of time and energy that you waste on it every day.
Haven’t we all met them? They simply love the sound of their own voices and once they open their mouths, there is no stopping them. They waste not only your time but their time as well. Steer clear of such people.
I have a vendor who I refuse to see unless it’s an emergency. Every time I talk with him, he wants to consume 45 minutes or more of my time … time that I don’t have. In fact, I do less business with him now than I have done in the past. Mainly because he is a time killer.
Identify which vendors, employees, colleagues, etc., suck up all your time with endless chatter. Then, set boundaries. If you MUST meet with chatterboxes, make sure you’ve clearly given your schedule to them in advance … “I only have 15 minutes.” If they start chattering about something unrelated to your meeting, you’ll have to be tough with them (and maybe even interrupt them), and say, “Remember, I only have 15 minutes. Let’s get back to the main point of our meeting.”
I think most meetings are a huge waste of time. When I left my last job, working for a large publishing company, and started working for myself, I quickly realized that by not having to go to meetings each day, I gained HOURS back into my schedule.
One of my private clients has a great solution to prevent long meetings. Their meetings are always limited to 15 minutes and everyone stands in a circle instead of sitting at a table. No one wants to stand around while their hot coffee is waiting for them back at their desk. So instead of talking for an hour about useless information, they have to be quick and to the point. This is highly effective.
I understand meetings are necessary for most companies, so when you have them, make sure you have clearly outlined what you are going to discuss. If possible, make it a standing meeting and put a short time limit on it.
Whenever you deal with Time Killers, use your common sense and try to find a way to get rid of them. Don’t expect them to go away by themselves. YOU MUST find a way to prevent them from consuming your valuable time!