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Time is one of your most valuable assets and a resource which cannot be increased.  It passes on its own no matter how we choose to use it.  Therefore, you must use your time wisely and utilize time according to your priorities.  Wasting time when it does not suit you or your desired outcomes is the opposite of what a small business owner should do.  The following entry will list some ways to minimize time traps (things that waste your time).

Before you can implement these minimizing techniques, you must first outline the desired goals for your business and life.  Goals can show you what and how you should be spending energy and effort on.  Without this knowledge, you could flounder from meetings to networking events to social media sites, gaining no advancement in the areas you had hoped for.  So first, please, spend some time to determine your goals.

Let us talk about the most common time traps in business.  Time traps are not the same for everyone.  Therefore, as previously mentioned, it will be entirely dependent on your goals.  There are a handful of ruses that a majority of business owners fall into, however.  Now is the time you start evaluating each time trap against your goals to see if they fit; if they do not, don’t allow it to continue.

Trap #1

Attending meetings:  How many times are you requested to attend a meeting in a week or month?  And how many of those meetings, after you are asked to join, do you know in the pit of your stomach that it will be a waste of your time?  Those are the meetings you want to gain the courage to say no to.  Respectfully decline those invitations, citing the reasons it does not fit your goals.  The other person will appreciate the honest and polite response.

You will save yourself a lot of time because these meetings are not only the meeting time itself but any driving time or preparation time required as well.  If you do believe the meeting request is aligned with your goals, you can prepare ahead of time to make the most of that meeting by asking for an agenda or purpose, generate any questions for information you would like to know, and negotiate a location which fits your schedule best.

Trap #2

Checking email:  We are a society of email checkers.  It is estimated by RescueTime that a typical worker checks email more than 50 times per day.  Breaking that down means we open our inbox once every 9.6 minutes.  Does that really serve ANYONE’s goals?  Does it serve yours?  Probably not.

Set some blocks of time throughout the day to dedicate to clearing out that inbox.  For me, 8-9am, 11:30am-12pm, and 4-5pm are what work best.  Unless you are waiting for a terribly important email (it must be absolutely required to move forward), keep your inbox clearing to pre-planned periods of time to help minimize the amount of time you are away from the more important business items.

Trap #3

Not delegating:  Small business owners wear many hats.  It is the nature of business.  But small business owners also tend to want to control everything; to know everything that is going on at all times and, worst yet, trying to do it all.  The thing is, you have many strong suits and some weak ones.  You must learn to release and delegate those which are not your strong suits.

By delegating, you prevent yourself from spreading yourself too thin and you can actually make progress forward.  You got into business because of your passion for a chosen field.  The rest which does not interest you should be outsourced (or hired in-house if you have enough work).  Spend your time doing what you do best.

Trap #4

Repeating unnecessarily:  With so many tasks coming from so many different angles, it is very easy to repeat items with slight variations.  These are the tasks you need to be aware of at all times.  Document what you do and take notice of the repeat offenders.  For example, a client asks you how you structure your pricing and then a second asks what your pricing is.  Similar question, slightly different.  You should put this explanation in your FAQs on your website.  So each time a client or prospect asks a question, just link them to the FAQs.

Additionally, there are many tools which help with automating electronic processes.  Let’s say each time you receive a sale through your website, you need to put a Sales Receipt into Quickbooks.  This would be time for automation.  Software like Zapier would allow for you to set up a rule (Website Sale = Sales Receipt) and perform the action for you automatically.  Keep track of these processes and shorten the time you spend on them as much as possible.

Trap #5

Trying to be perfect:  Your business is your baby, there is no way away around that.  You created it, you built it, and now you maintain it.  So like any good parent, you want it to be amazing and perfect.  The major problem with perfection is its ability to limit forward movement.   The more you continue to expect perfection of yourself, the more you will be let down and defeated.  No human is perfect and no business is perfect.

Continue to take action based on your goals, put your best foot forward, and reassess as you move along making changes where needed.  Your strength is building your business and putting your passion into it.  You need not worry about making sure it is perfect the first time around.  Trust that your desire to grow your business will fine tune your operations along the way.