When people start their own business they often think it’s going to be all dollars and doughnuts, not realizing that it’s also work. To produce dollars to buy doughnuts, productive billable work will need to be accomplished, or sellable products will have to be made and sold. In business there are tasks that produce results and some that are out-and-out wastes of time.
But, how do you know when something is a fruitful task and something is just a time waster?
There are a few major ways business owners waste time:
* Busy Work – Many business owners spend a lot of time doing things that feel like work, but aren’t really productive. How many times can you edit and rewrite that blog post? How many times can you redo your website, or scour social media before you realize it’s not productive?
* Social Media – It’s a great way to market your business but it can be distracting, so you need to time yourself and have a specific task in mind before getting on social media during work hours. Create a list of actions that you will take and stick to those and nothing else.
* Email Checking – You need a business email and a personal email. Check your personal email only off business hours, and check your work email at specific intervals throughout the day with specific actions in mind. For instance, don’t read all those newsletters you signed up for every time; set aside a specific time for that.
* Phone Calls – Meetings and phone calls seem productive, but are they really? They are if you have an agenda and stick to the agenda and don’t trail off into other territory and just start chatting mindlessly. If you’re not good at doing that, try to eliminate as many phone calls and meetings as possible by using project management software.
* Outside Distractions – The TV, email notification beeping, friends calling, and so forth are all distractions that you can reduce or eliminate during work hours if you make it your goal. If your goal is to earn money, just ask yourself before you do anything, “Is this task getting me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no, stop doing it.
Ask yourself the following questions before doing any activity:
* Is this activity planned and scheduled?
* Is the project defined with a deadline?
* Is the activity goal producing?
If you can answer yes to the above questions, then it may be a good task to keep doing and not a time waster. However, if you can answer no to the following questions, the activity is likely not fruitful and is a time waster.
* If you stop doing this activity will it affect your business?
* Is this activity billable?
* Will this activity produce income?
The great thing is that you can choose not to waste time; once you have identified actual time wasters, you can seek to eliminate them from your day. Once you accept that some of what you’re doing is just busy work and not actually work that will move you toward your end goal of producing income, you’ll be able to stay on track.