Time management is pervasive in our working lives, especially for white collar workers. We have more technology at our disposal, more disruptions, and more demand for output due to latent productivity since the 2007 recession.
For the first time in about 40 years, productivity gains have retracted in the private sector. And what does that mean for you? Well despite having more distractions and more technology to fiddle with, there’s a very real and serious pressure to do more. It’s led to what Greg McKeown calls the “more bubble.” Since all of us at Sqrl are time management junkies, we’ll give you three ways to overcome the “more bubble” and help you manage your time and improve your bottom line by doing more with what you have.
1) Efficiency is king.
There’s a classic story about a locksmith that perfectly demonstrates the power of efficiency. The locksmith, who charged $50 / hour, took a full 6 hours to complete his very first job. At the end of the job, he handed the owner a $300 invoice, but the homeowner refused. He’d only offer $50 because that’s what he thought the job was worth. A rough first day for sure. The locksmith went home wondering how he’d ever make a living and accepted the $50.
By the end of that year, the locksmith was performing the same job in 30 minutes and charging $50 / job. The locksmith was making $300 in the same amount of time as his first job. That’s a 500% increase, a dramatic change to top line revenue and bottom line working costs.
It’s a story of not only efficiency but of value. Often time management is as much about being more efficient at existing tasks as it is managing and prioritizing new ones. There are many apps which promise more time, but sometimes you just need to get more done.
One thing we did at our old service business was use Harvest to track our time. While our firm didn’t utilize “billable hours,” tracking our time by category allowed us to see where we were spending our time. The exercise was crucial in determining just how efficient we were and where we needed to improve.
2) Evaluate the efforts which result in the most output.
Let’s say as the marketing coordinator you spend 30% of the week on social media, 30% of the week on digital ad management, 30% on cold emails, and 10% on relationship building with current customers.
If the last two months yielded 10 new users from social media channels, 20 users from digital ads, 20 users from cold emails, and 10 new users from relationship building – what’s the best use of time?
If you answered relationship building, you would be correct. For every 1% of time spent, you’re getting 1 new user. It’s a simple exercise, but how often do you do it? By no means is this an absolute since at some point all current customers would become fully “utilized,” but that’s why you should re-evaluate the impact of your time every couple months.
Mark your results against time tracked with Harvest, or apps like Reporter, which will randomly ask what you’re up to and report results back. For marketers, results might be client wins, and for others, it could be widgets made, reports completed, or commits to the code base.
For some tips on how to utilize Reporter, check out this cool article by Belle Cooper on productivity vs. getting things done.
3) Employee Engagement is Key to Kicking Arse.
In a study on employee engagement from David MacLeod and Nita Clarke, the following correlations were revealed:
“Those companies with a highly engaged workforce improved operating income by 19.2 percent over a period of 12 months, whilst those companies with low engagement scores saw operating income decline by 32.7 per cent over the same period.”
A study from the Corporate Leadership Council finds that the secret to low turnover is in the engagement:
“Those employees who are most committed perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization—indicating the signiﬁcance of engagement to organizational performance”
And if you believe a study by Sage North America, the cost of turnover is pretty high:
“30 percent of an entry-level worker’s annual salary, and up to 400 percent of a highly-skilled employee’s annualized salary.”
Hopefully by now you’re convinced that engaging employees with effective organizational strategy, adequate compensation, and limited micromanagement are great ways to cut cost in your organization.
The next time you think about time management, consider proactively doing more with less rather than reactively “managing” resources. Even the best time management practices won’t save underperformers or disengaged employees.
Image courtesy of Jesadaphorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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