Time is money: Productivity hacks for everyone

Alexandra Cain
Business Journalist

Alexandra Cain writes regularly for the small business sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review

Alexandra Cain
Business Journalist

Alexandra Cain writes regularly for the small business sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review

Time is money, and here are some great ways to squeeze more value from the working day.

Many busy small business owners spend their lives rushing around working on so many projects it seems impossible to keep track of time. But unless you are tracking your time, it’s impossible to know if you’re spending your time productively or charging fairly for your services.

Image shows two women in a pottery store using smartphones. The right technologies and workflows can help you maximise your productivity.

Work in progress

Luckily, there are a lot of tools out there to help businesses free up time. The idea is to track your time accurately so you know how much time you spend on work you can actually charge for and how much time you spend on tasks that are necessary, but may not be helping to grow your business.

Part of this is optimal workflow management. Many businesses, including consultancies and professional services firms, use a system where they track and charge clients billable hours.

One way of making this process more efficient is to link systems that track billable hours with invoicing and accounting systems. Time Tracker is a great option for this.

The Time Tracker app gives business owners a good understanding of how each staff member spends their time, and can be a great coaching tool for managers training team members make the most of their working hours. The idea is to pinpoint parts of the day where staff members could be making better use of their time and help them to change their behaviour. 

Managing behaviours

Technology is just one tool businesses can use to get the most from their day.

Business coach and human resource expert Shane Warren says another way to boost productivity is to be aware of your energy levels. “Some people are morning people, others prefer to work in the afternoon. We all naturally have a go-slow phase. It is in these times that we will tend to ‘waste’ time,” he says. 

Knowing when your low energy times are allows you to schedule your hard work and thinking for when you’re fresh and alert. “Do the ‘tea and tidy’ stuff associated with your role in those times when you are not so naturally alert or energised,” Warren advises. 

Warren suggests having a chat with your team about natural energy flow in the workplace. It’s not about having New Age crystals on people’s desks – it’s simply about understanding the changing energy levels of the entire team and how they overlap. Then you can encourage the team to collate their to-do-lists and plan collaborations that suit this natural energy phase. 

On a more macro scale, Trello gives business owners a great helicopter view of all the projects in the business and who’s working on them.

This enhanced view means it might be possible to schedule tasks that need to be performed in the morning for people who naturally work better in the morning. At the same time, consider scheduling tasks for people who work better at the end of the day in the afternoon, if the project allows this.

When it comes to technology, Warren says the idea is to use systems that are habit-forming for staff members. “If the system you are using can easily become habit forming, then it becomes instinctive.”

The right technologies, coupled with the right workflows, can help you optimise productivity, bill more accurately, reduce waste and earn what you deserve for your efforts.

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