This is part 2 of a 3-part series on Time Management. I have to thank Rod Worley with Four Grainer: Inside the Jewelry Trade Radio Show for motivating me to write this series. While I was on his podcast show, he asked me the following question: "Where are they supposed to find the time?"
Instead of writing simple direction to explain how to get things done, I decided to dive deeply into my own personal time management experiences and detail how I accomplish more than seems humanly possible every week.
This 3-part series builds upon itself, so go back and read part 1 here before reading this one.
As a quick recap though, in part 1, I explained how I prioritize time and the best time of day for me to get work done.
Dealing With Time Consuming Tasks
I fondly remember a 300 level course I took in college called Management Psychology. As a 300 level course, it dove into more complicated business management issues. One of the topics explained in that class was how to analyze and organize your work space for maximum time efficiency. This organization method can be equally applied to a jeweler's bench, the layout of a retail store, an assembly line, or a white collar office. Surprisingly, it can also be applied to using software.
Rushing to learn something new is never good for business. When rushed, we often just learn the basics of how to accomplish a task one way without learning better ways. Business software falls into this rushed category. Every software system, whether Quickbooks, PhotoShop, your website CMS, or The EDGE has tons of features that make your everyday tasks easier, yet very few people will ever invest in the full training to learn those systems fully.
I've probably used PhotoShop every day for work since 1995... Indeed, that's quite a long time. Every time I upgrade to the newest version I should enroll in a class to learn the newest features, but I don't because I only use it for a few limited tasks. Yet, some of those tasks take me a long time to accomplish. During my recent upgrade, I decided to apply some of my own advice and see if there was a better way to accomplish photo retouching. Sure enough, there's a build in feature now that shaves several minutes off the photo retouching process I use.
Several minutes might not seem like a big deal is you are editing one or two photos, but that time quickly adds up when you have to process 700 photos from a jewelry photoshoot. In one such project, it was a total time savings of 35 hours!
Think about all the software you use in your business and if anything you do with that software is tedious and time consuming. Most likely, you can learn a better method if you pause long enough to watch a training video.
If you're one of those people who doesn't read training manuals, well then, don't come crying to me that you don't have any time left in your work week. You're wasting a lot of it bumbling through software.
There's always a better way to accomplish a task. If the answer isn't in training, then it can be found in better apps or a better organized working environment. You probably know the expressions "there's an app for that." Well it's true, but you first have to recognize that a time consuming task is sucking your time away.
Dealing With The Social Media Time Suck
One such time consuming task is logging into all your social media accounts to post updates. Every time I stand in front of a group to teach social media strategies, someone inevitably tells me that they don't have time to post or pay attention to social media. My answer, invariably, is that they first need to examine how they are wasting time in other areas of their business.
So far, I've already explained how I saved myself 10 hours per week and a few minutes per photo when working in PhotoShop. I have several other examples of where I've shaved time off my daily work by improving performance. That reclaimed time can be diverted to other new tasks, or you can apply it to your much needed downtime.
You could easily sink 10 hours per week into social media, but as a business owner, that's not a good use of your time. You should create a social media posting calendar for your business. This calendar will detail what type of posts will be published on certain days. You can then use this calendar to create the content that will be posted.
The good thing about the content calendar is that you can delegate the creation of the content to your employees. They should be able to follow the plan you set forth, and eventually one of your employees should be able to learn how to build upon the content calendar without your input.
There are several social media management software platforms that make the posting process easy for you. My staff and I currently use HootSuite Pro. This system allows us to post our social updates ahead of time, which allows us to maintain a consistent daily posting schedule without rushing back to our computer several times a day.
However, posting updates to social media is only half of the engagement process. You have to reply to people who engage with your posts. For that reason, you should schedule your social posts during the times when you know you will be able to actively monitor those replies on your smartphone.
Your smartphone is the fastest way to keep up on social engagements, which means you need to have your business account notifications turned on. Honestly, most retail jewelers don't get a lot of comments to their social posts, so you should not worry that your active monitoring will take up a lot of time. Additionally, you can, and should delegate this task to your employees.
It should only take a few minutes randomly through every day for you to respond to customers who are engaging with you socially. As long as you are not involved with some other task, I feel you should always reply immediately to social interactions.
There are two reasons why you should not defer your social interactions until later in the day:
- Your reply to a customer will be less relevant to them if you wait until later to reply. Engaging immediately back with them is better for customer relations.
- You are more likely to run out of time at the end of the day and decide not to reply to all of the engagements for that day, which would make you look like a company that is only interested in pushing a sales message.
Social media is an important part of your business marketing; if you don't have time for it then you need to delegate it to someone else.
Delegating Saves You Time
As the business owner and entrepreneur, you are always willing to put the extra effort in to make your business better and perform every task to perfection. Many entrepreneurs fall into the thought trap that they are the only person who can do a particular job. This is a horrible time trap.
Other people might not perform the task to your level of quality, but anyone can follow a plan if you write detailed instructions. You have to learn that it's okay to write those detailed steps so you can delegate tasks and give up some of your perceived perfection. I say perceived because you will be surprised how other people will handle a task you give them. Sure, you should teach them the procedures you follow, but you should also give them the freedom to improve upon those procedures if they can find a faster way to achieve the same or greater results.
Think about your work day and all the repetitious tasks you handle. Can you write directions for those repetitive steps? If so, that's a task you can delegate. It usually takes me 10 times the amount of time to write directions as it would for me to do something myself. The last set of directions I wrote took me about 20 hours to detail all the steps for a daily task that ate up 90 minutes of my time.
Currently, I'm training an employee to take over a repetitive 40 hour task of mine. It's going to be several months before I'll be able to completely pass that difficult task to him, but once I do, I will have saved another 40 hours of work every month.
I'm going to stop there for today and let you think about how you would train someone else to take over your regimented tasks. In tomorrow's third and final installment, I'll explain how you can be truthful about time, protect your time, and compare the value of your time.