Is finding enough time to do everything you need to do one of your top small business challenges?  If so, you’re not alone; just about every entrepreneur lists “time” as one of the top challenges they face in running their businesses.  It’s not uncommon to feel stressed and overwhelmed with everything you need to do.

Plenty of time management books will help you use your time more productively, but who has time to read a whole book these days?  Instead, here are some quick tips to help you work smarter, ease any stress, and tame the time monster.

The 4 “D”s

You might have seen a strategy that allows you to evaluate how to handle each task or e-mail as it comes across your desk.  Here are mine:   1. Do,  2. Delegate,  3.  Delete, and  4. Delay.

It’s pretty self-explanatory.  For each task you have, you choose one of the four.  Do means drop everything and do it now.   Delegate means give it to another person to do.  Delete means you didn’t really need to do that task in the first place and you can cross it off the list.  And delay means you’re going to do the task later and not now.

Every thing that comes into your life can be handled using this 4D filter:  do, delegate, delete, and delay.  It’s a great tool, and I definitely recommend trying it if you don’t have a system for yourself. But there’s an even better idea.

The Secret Sauce

Once you’ve applied your formula and you’ve decided on the tasks you’re going to “do” today (the first of the “D”s), there’s another step to add that will actually start freeing up some time.  With tasks you’re going to “do,” you have two more filters to try:

  1. Can I automate this task?
  2. Can I systematize this task?

Go ahead and “do” the task the way you’ve always done it.  Then add another step that essentially asks: “Is there a better way?”

Take Your Biz Off Automatic Pilot

It’s funny how we keep doing the same things over and over again the same way, even though our business has long outgrown the way we’re doing it!  Sometimes we don’t think to question whether there are new ways of doing things faster.  We might not want to tackle the learning curve, even though we could save a lot of time in the long run.

Sometimes I ask a client how they perform a particular task.  Often when I ask how long they have been doing it that way, they realize that it had never ever occurred to them to consider changing the process.  Once you start asking yourself “Is there a better way?”, you may find dozens of tiny procedures to change, which can lead to freeing up time in your daily routine.

It can happen when you add or replace an employee, too.  You’ll see what systems need tightening up, and you can create procedures and implement new software and tools with the new employee to make the job even more effective.

More Important Things

The 4Ds, Do, Delegate, Delete, and Delay, are a great way to organize your time.  To save even more time, take a look at automating or systematizing everything you can, and let us know how we can support you.

Won’t it be nice to have time for more important things?