Task management systems vs. to do list software
When you’re running a growing business, your time is at a premium.
Your attention is being pulled in multiple directions at once, there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, and no matter how productive you are, your to-do list just keeps getting longer. On top of that, you’re always looking for ways to empower your team to work faster and smarter, too.
If only there were some shortcuts to save time on the mundane, day-to-day tasks so you could focus on growing your business.
Well, there are. In fact, there are hundreds of time-saving hacks out there.
But before you plunge headfirst into a time-hacking spree, you should consider some strategy. Not all of the hacks you find out there will be a good fit for your business. Some of them might even end up costing you more time than they save.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of six of the most universal tips, tools and processes that could make a real difference to the number of hours in your day.
To do list software
Email can be a huge drain on your time. If you’re not careful, you can spend a whole working day in your inbox, feverishly typing out replies. And by the time you’ve sent one email, two or three more have popped into your inbox. This is particularly frustrating if you find yourself restating the same things over and over, manually formulating the same sales pitch or internal notification each time.
If this rings true for you or your team, try setting up templates for your most common emails. Identify the types of message you send most and prepare a generic email, leaving yourself clearly marked gaps where you will need to insert specific information such as names and dates.
Say you or your employees have to send out a generic email once a day, and it takes 15 minutes to formulate it manually each time. Over the span of one year, shaving 10 minutes off that time by using a template will save 44 hours: a full working week.
Task management systems
But emails are not the only place where you might end up repeating yourself. Good businesses run on consistency, and there are all sorts of internal and external functions which require written documentation.
Using a tool such as Microsoft Office’s Quick Parts feature or TextExpander allows you to save certain chunks of text and insert them quickly into documents, either from a menu or by using keyboard shortcuts.
Did you work hard on formulating the perfect sales argument for your services, or set a series of terms that must be used consistently across the board? These tools ensure that your message stays consistent every time, while also saving you the precious seconds, minutes, or even hours it would take to type out each piece of text manually.
So which is best?
Social media is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a huge drain on your time. The constantly updating nature of platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram means there is always new content to devour.
Sharing your own content on social media can increase awareness of your brand and generate leads, but you need to be careful that you don’t get sucked in to your newsfeed. A casual scroll can turn into a lost hour in what feels like the blink of an eye.
Using a social media scheduling tool such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Later or SEMrush allows you to line up a full calendar of social content across all of the platforms your business is active on, away from the temptation to scroll endlessly.
Getting started with business process management
While meetings are an intrinsic part of the modern business environment, they also rank highly amongst the biggest perceived wastes of time at work. But meetings in and of themselves are not the real problem: the problem is badly structured meetings.
If your employees are disgruntled by the number of meetings they have to attend, or your meetings regularly run over the scheduled time or drift from the agenda, then it may be time to rethink your strategy. It could be a challenging process to identify which recurring meetings are surplus to requirements, and old meeting habits may well die hard, but cutting wasteful meetings out of your day can save an enormous amount of time.
At Process Bliss, our meetings are run according to the Level 10 principles set out in the book Traction® by Gino Wickman of EOS, which keep all meetings focused and productive.
To do list software
Worried that cutting down on meetings will lead to a lack of communication within your team? Worry not. There’s software for that.
Applications such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and Webex allow you and your employees to collaborate via text chat, voice calls and video. You can set up different channels for projects and teams, ensuring that all of the discussion and resources relating to a particular topic are kept in one place.
Used effectively, these tools eliminate the need for endless catch-up meetings and enable rapid collaboration within your team.
Task management systems
How much time do you lose each day simply looking for documents? That PDF with the interesting insight, or the spreadsheet with the data you need. You know you had it somewhere, but where did you save it?
Though it may take a significant amount of time to set up, a centralised document storage location will do wonders for efficiency within your business. An intuitive platform with a documented process for saving files, such as a knowledgebase, an internal wiki, or a well-structured file server allows your team quick access to all of the resources they need to do their jobs.
Restructuring your files and data can also be a good opportunity to look into integrating your systems with a smart IT solution, such as Zapier. Sharing data between platforms manually can lead to tedious and time-consuming data entry work, as employees copy information from one platform to another. Well-integrated systems cut out the need for this entirely, reducing the risk of human error in the input and potentially saving a great deal of time.
So which is best?
Every business is different, and there may be other aspects within your company that could be made more time-efficient. But remember, while it might sound counter-intuitive, not all time-saving hacks will actually save you time.
Think back to our email template example. It’s a simple calculation: if it takes you a day to implement a hack that saves an hour on a certain task, but you only do that task once a year, it will be a decade before the time you invested will actually pay off.
Though it may seem less spectacular, it could be much more effective to shave just a few minutes off a task, particularly if it’s one you or your team carry out regularly. With well implemented, efficient processes saving small amounts of time on regular tasks, the net result is a huge boost in productivity.
Hack smartly, and you’ll find that you have all the time you need to focus on growing your business.
Schedule a call with Process Bliss to discover how we can save precious time for your business.