There is no doubt that small business owners are busy people. Your business takes up nearly every free minute and the tasks never seem to end. During the holiday season, all of this gets magnified, and it can become more difficult to manage.
Here are a few time-saving tips that may help during the next few weeks.
Stay organized. Every small business is asked to do more with less. Several things are happening at the same time, and it can be easy to forget things. Take the time to write things down and create a to-do list. Prioritize your time to ensure the most important tasks get accomplished. There are only so many hours in the day and inevitably you will have to remove something from your list. It is also important to create a calendar to schedule your projects at times that do not interfere with your top sales volume days. Your business priorities will change as you move through the business cycle and your calendar can be a great guide for strategic planning.
Leverage technology. If you continually communicate with your customers through email, consider using a template to help with this process. You can also construct your email communications in advance and then schedule them to be released throughout the holidays. If you need to have meetings with people who do not live in your geographic location, leverage the use of video conferencing to save time. Apps are all the rage and can provide great tools to improve your productivity. They allow you to be mobile yet stay connected to what is happening with your business.
Take advantage of business downtime. Most businesses have at least some slower times in their business leading up to or during the holidays. Take advantage of this time by completing projects that would be difficult to do during increased customer traffic. If you have extended business hours due to the holiday season, be prepared for downtime in the early morning hours or late at night just prior to closing. Use this time to recover from the day's business and prepare for the next day’s sales.
Try not to multitask. Many people believe multitasking saves time, but it often takes longer to complete each task and, in some cases, you are forced to redo the task due to lack of focus. According to research summarized by the American Psychological Association, shifting between tasks can cost you up to 40 percent of productive time. Complete one task at a time and make sure you do it right. It is completely acceptable to say no from time to time. If you don’t have the time or the task can be done by someone else, that’s OK. Your time is valuable and not without limits.
The holiday season is a busy time of year, and every free minute you gain back helps. Retail is exhausting and unpredictable, and being efficient in the way you operate can save you precious time that you can use to handle the unexpected.