Community Futures Meridian

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How Profitably Are You Spending Your Time?

  • November 1, 2018
  • Written by Meridian Admin

Running a small business, being an entrepreneur, often makes for frenetic business days. Days and weeks fly by and at the end of a month what have you got to show for all your effort? Do you know how many of the activities you undertook resulted in increased profits for your company, and how many were simply a literal waste of time? If you don’t know the answer to the question above, then you probably don’t know how productive your employees are either.

Business activities can be broken into two types, those that aid productivity and lead to greater profitability and those that are time-wasters. If this sounds like a sweeping statement, consider the typical activities you carry out during an average business day. If you are talking to a customer, selling, helping an employee with a technical issue, thinking about the strategic direction of your company—you’d probably agree these all help your company’s productivity and long-term profitability. If on the other hand you are surfing the internet watching a funny video about animals, drinking a coffee while daydreaming, or dealing with another computer glitch, then these are not only not helping productivity they are a hinderance.

If you are thinking the descriptions above describe a normal business day; that’s just the way it is and you can’t be productive one hundred per cent of the day, you’d be correct. But, spending a little time focusing, or re-focusing on how you spend each working day, can be a useful exercise.

We all know social media has become one of the biggest time-wasters in businesses. In fact, one report in the U.S. suggests that on average employees spend five hours (or roughly ten per cent) a week on non-work, social media activities. Extrapolate that figure over a year and we’re talking 200 hours per employee (or you!). The same study reports that this results in over $15 billion in lost productivity in the U.S.

Consider for a minute; how do you divide up your time? Are you spending your valuable work time on the things that will grow your business and increase your profit? How much time do you waste in a day?

For just one day, note down what you did during the previous 30 minutes. To make this easier, you might create a chart that lists typical activities, so you can then simply enter a number into your calendar. For instance;

  1. Meetings
  2. Emails
  3. Social media
  4. Online research
  5. Selling
  6. Strategic planning
  7. Writing (reports etc.)
  8. Thinking about work
  9. Thinking about personal stuff
  10. Dealing with staff
  11. Dealing with customers
  12. Manufacturing
  13. Travel
  14. Coffee
  15. Lunch

Add whatever else you do during a typical day and create your own list.

At the end of the week use a green highlighter pen to make note of every 30-minute period where you can honestly say you were increasing productivity or profitability. At the end of the week, if more than half your time was not spent on building your business, you might want to rethink how you are spending your time. Perhaps, try to extend the periods of the day where you can see you are working “on” your business rather than “in” your business.