Feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day? There are a few steps you can take to maximize your time and get more done:
1. Clear your client house! If you have an overload of clients in your roster – some of which you probably haven’t worked with in years – cut the dead weight! Drop the bottom 25% (lowest spenders, hardest to keep in touch with, haven’t used in over 2 years) and re-focus on your top 25%.
2. Use your expertise. Rather than trying to expand into new markets you know nothing about, use your existing knowledge to find a customer base you may have overlooked. For example: if you normally work with doctors or nurses in a hospital setting, you could probably expand into other areas of healthcare, like home health or private practice.
3. Have a “time cushion.” If you’ve got a big deadline looming, set yourself a pre-deadline. If any problems arise, you’ll have a few days to work out the kinks.
4. Know the business cycle. What is the busiest time of year for your clients? Plan your contact with them for a few weeks before or after the rush.
5. Invest in quality equipment and software. I can’t stress this enough! A lot of small businesses are wary about spending extra money to update an old system, but believe me – it’s worth it! Workflow will speed up and you’ll save so much time if you’re not using outdated technology.
6. Create good habits. What do you waste the most time on? Schedule out your time to do that activity. For example, many people get sucked into reading emails and spend hours a day in their inbox. If you set aside an hour every day at a specific time to check your e-mail, you can concentrate your efforts and spend the extra time being more productive.
7. Use the four Rs. When receiving messages, voicemails, memos, or emails, sort them quickly into these categories: Reroute to someone else, Respond now, Read later, or Recycle (as in Recycle Bin)!
8. Set a meeting agenda. Do your meetings run too long? Having an outline of all the points you want to cover will help. If you are prepared before you go in, you can steer the conversation away from unnecessary subjects.
9. Practice your message. Write out a script to practice what you want to say in a meeting, a phone call, or an impromptu drop-by. It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch – this is just the basic information you want your customers to know. Who are you? Why are you meeting/calling? What is the next step or required action?
10. Stay away from hassles. If you have a client who is frequently changing their mind, reworking their order/idea, or needs handholding, they are wasting your time. Hopefully you followed tip #1 and took them off your priority list, but sometimes it’s a hard decision when you have a needy customer who spends serious money. Just think about it: in the time it took to crawl through the process with your high-maintenance client, you could have been cultivating a relationship with several new customers that fit your business.