Put your phone to voicemail. In the current economic climate, sales people have gone into overdrive and business owners are being swamped with unwanted sales calls. Even if the caller can be quickly dispatched, each call is still highly disruptive and in many cases really rather annoying. One strategy to avoid unwanted calls is to divert all calls to voicemail. If the call is important the caller will leave a message and can be phoned back. Thankfully, most sales people will not leave a message.
Get more organised. It takes much more time to correct mistakes than to get it right first time. A missed appointment is not only embarrassing and stressful but also takes time to fix. Be disciplined and always record appointments as they're made. Many people also find keeping lists to be a great help. A popular personal productivity system based around lists is Getting Things Done created by David Allen.
Become proactive. Making arrangements can involve a time consuming game of email tennis to fix a time and a place. By proactively suggesting solutions instead of asking questions, this arrangement time can be drastically reduced. Instead of saying ‘when can you make it’, say ‘how about meeting 10a.m. on Thursday, failing that, Friday at the same time’. It is a good idea to give a couple of alternatives.
Be assertive. Having to chase a supplier is time consuming and mentally taxing. Being passive unfortunately does not get the job done. By being the kind of customer that is assertive about efficient, quick delivery will increase the chances of things getting done on time. Remember it is the squeaky wheel that gets oiled.
Automate and batch processes. In every business there is room for automating processes, saving time and effort. A good example is automating the payment of regular invoices via a bank direct debit or standing order. Time can also be saved by batching together similar tasks and doing them all at once.
Avoid distractions. The working day is full of distractions and after each interruption it takes several minutes to get back to the main task at hand. Cutting down on distractions is therefore a quick win in terms of improving productivity. Here are several strategies for avoiding distractions:
- Turn off email auto receive. It is very tempting to read emails as they arrive which is a great waste of time. It is easy to think that not being online at all times will mean that something important will be missed, but in reality very few things can’t wait a few hours. Turn off email auto receive and try to download emails just a few times each day so then you are in control of you email and not the other way around.
- Change your homepage. Many people set the homepage on their browser to their favourite news site and it is terribly tempting to spend the first 20 minutes of each day catching up on the latest celebrity gossip. Setting the homepage to a neutral, but useful site like Google helps to get the day off to a productive start.
- Avoid social media. Social media services such as Twitter are great fun but are the thief of time. Treat social media like email and try and restrict viewing to once or twice a day.
- Unsubscribe to email newsletters. Most email newsletters are only slightly better than spam and never get read. They clog up email inboxes and take time to delete. Unsubscribe, unsubscribe, unsubscribe!