Beating the top 10 small business time wasters

man reaching for clock

In a five-part article series, we look at the 10 most common ways small business owners waste time, and deliver solutions for combating this damaging behaviour. Part two looks at goal setting and keeping a clean desk.

How do you manage your goals? Do you even have goals – whether personal or work related? And how is your desk looking these days? Is it the picture of perfection and looking simply serene? Or are you in a devastatingly disorganised state?

In part two of our five-part series, we’re going to look at how having no clear goals can be the cause of a major black hole as far as time wasting is concerned. We’re also going to consider the state of your work space. Don’t be scared, this one is a fun one and will be so rewarding when you come out the other side.

So, let’s soldier on, shall we?

Problem 3: No clear goals

I always, always say – if you don’t know where you are heading how can you get there? You don’t drive to your new friends place without first having an address, and you certainly can’t do the same thing with your life.

Of course that’s a large scale example, but the principals remain the same. A goal is a goal, whether it relates to how rich you want to be, how much weight you want to lose or what you want to get done at work today.

Walking in to work at 9am with no idea where your head is at in regards to what you want to achieve, is a complete waste of time. You might as well change your starting time to 10am. By the time you settle in, get a coffee, think about what you want to do… that’s what time it will be. Then, before you know it it’s morning tea time and then the thinking becomes, “well, I might as well just start at lunch time.”

If you’re the employer, I can’t imagine that you will be too pleased paying your employees for 3 hours of unproductive work time.

Solution?

First things first (time for my favourite word again) – focus. You need to focus on where you’re going and what  you want to be doing to create goals in the first place. Think about what you want to achieve in life. Say you want to be a doctor – you need to create goals to get you there, and you need to focus on them to get you through. Set yourself goals – for life, personal and your work – and work toward them. Focus on them, drive towards them. This is going to be the only way you’re going to get there. Remember the age old saying – no one is going to do your work for you.

On that note, don’t leave work at the end of the day without knowing what you’re going to be doing tomorrow. Take five minutes extra to write yourself a list of goals you’d like to achieve the next day. Watch your productivity skyrocket as you walk in the office every morning with purpose and direction, just by doing that one simple thing every day.

And finally, set yourself personal goals. I am a firm believer in working to live, not living to work – so what’s the fun or the point really, in turning up to work every day – dedicated to the cause – if we don’t know why we’re doing it in the first place? Give yourself a personal goal to strive towards, so you have meaning behind why you do what you do every day.

Problem 4: The messy desk

The messy desk is a big pet hate of mine

Did you know that the state of our desk tells people a lot about us – whether we like it or not. A messy desk says we are lazy; a tidy desk says that we are super productive and organised. What impression do you want to leave your workmates with?

It doesn’t matter what you say to me, I will never stop believing that a messy desk, inbox, house, garage or dog box doesn’t translate in to chaos in your head. Being surrounded by a calm environment is contagious and will naturally calm your head space too.

Solution?

I’m not usually one to look to fashion trends, but in this case I’m a huge fan of minimalism. If you can get away with having nothing on your desk, do it (this might be a little unrealistic, of course).

If you can’t have nothing on your desk, take me for example. I have just my computer, a filing tray, an action tray and a jar for my pens on my desk. Everything else has a spot in a draw or in folders. Anything on your desk that you don’t use is just a distraction – including random bits of paper. The best way to get the most out of your workspace is to keep it clear of clutter and unnecessary paper.

Next: try and print as little as possible. For one thing, it’s environmentally friendly and it saves you money on paper and stationary. For another, when you print excessively you’re creating yourself a giant paperwork mess. Remember this simple equation: less paper = less filing = more time.

And finally, a note on filing. Yes – we all hate it, but it’s a necessary evil. Instead of watching the filing tray grow and then procrastinating about when you’ll do it, do yourself a favour and file as you go. It’s a very productive general practice and great use of your time, which means you won’t hate coming in to the office everyday knowing that there is a giant filing pile to be tackled.

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