5 Common Time-Wasters and How to Avoid Them
Steps to maintain productivity
By Karen Litzy, PT, DPT
As business owners, we are all too often pulled in many directions. Whether you are an owner of a traditional physical therapy clinic, a solopreneur, or working in a nonclinical role, you are often tasked with being the CEO, chief marketing officer, social media manager, chief financial officer, and much more.
Many of you are taking on all these roles while also treating patients and trying to have a life outside of work. With all these responsibilities, you have to be organized and efficient. This means finding ways to utilize your strengths and abilities so you can be effective, efficient, and compelling (EEC).
These days, there are many distractions and time-wasters available to us, from falling into the social media marketing rabbit hole to trying to update your website or crunch the numbers every month. Tasks that should take under an hour can become hours or days of frustration, taking you away from more pressing matters in your business.
Before we get into how not to waste time, it is essential to understand how you, the business owner, operate. What do you like to do and not do in your business? What tasks can you do in your business that allow you to be EEC?
Take a few minutes to fill out the EEC graph template on page 52 and make your own. Add as many rows as needed. In the first column, list the activities necessary for the business that you enjoy doing. In the second, list the activities necessary for the business that you do NOT enjoy doing. In the third, rate whether you’re good at each of these activities (be honest here). In the fourth column, rate how integral each task is to running your business on a scale of 1 to 10. And finally, in the fifth column, ask yourself whether someone would pay you to do this task. This will help you better understand what is needed for your business and where you might be wasting your time and talents that may be better spent elsewhere. You may be good at something and find it enjoyable, but if it is not bringing in revenue, it is a hobby and should not necessarily be part of your job description. This exercise will clarify what tasks you should be doing and what tasks you should outsource or delegate to a team member.
An efficient framework for completing any task is the Pomodoro Technique. It is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s.1 The Pomodoro Technique works as follows:
- Choose one task you want to work on and block out all other distractions.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes or one Pomodoro.
- At the end of the Pomodoro, take a five-minute break.
- You can choose to continue to work on the same task for your next Pomodoro or move on to a new task.
- After four Pomodoros, you can take a more extended break of 20–30 minutes.
Keep the Pomodoro Technique in mind when working on any of your tasks (outside of direct patient care) throughout the day.
In this article, we will consider several common business time-wasters and how you can address them. There is of course the potential for hundreds of activities that waste time, but this list will concentrate on the most common. Keep in mind that you want all your tasks to be EEC!
Nothing sucks the time out of your day more than reading and responding to your emails. This has the potential to disrupt other tasks you can and should be doing. But it is a necessary aspect of business and needs to be addressed.
These tips will manage expectations for the person emailing you, provide you with a routine, and take much-needed stress off your shoulders.
2) Team Meetings
Team meetings are one of the most critical aspects of your business. They allow you to connect with your staff, discuss the company’s health, review ongoing projects, and discover new ideas to push your business forward. But meetings can easily fall off the rails, go on for too long, or become irrelevant.
Although we cannot guarantee a meeting will never run over or go off the rails, planning ahead and having these safeguards in place will decrease the likelihood of that happening and keep your meetings EEC.
3) Social Media Marketing
Having a social media presence for your business is a must in today’s world. If you do not have a marketing department and have not hired an outside marketing company, social media posting and marketing will be on you or someone on your team. It is very time-intensive, but on the other hand, it can significantly impact your visibility to your ideal customers, authority in the marketplace, and revenue.
It is important to note that social media marketing, planning, and posting take time to do well. But by using some of the tips above, you can easily cut that time down to allow you to focus on higher-level tasks within your business.
As most business owners tend to be type A personalities, we lean toward perfectionism. Often this means dwelling on specific details for far too long, waiting to offer a new service until the website is just right, or not posting that video to social media because it is not yet “perfect.” And while you debate the perfect post, website, or proposal, your competition down the street beats you to the punch.
We always put our best foot forward because we are representing our brand and ourselves. Even if what you propose, post, and say is not perfect, as long as it stays consistent with your values, your customers will pick up on that.
5) Too Many DIY Projects
Who doesn’t love a good DIY project? The problem is that if it is not the right job for you and it is taking you hours or days to complete, then it might be a time-waster. Remember the table you filled out above? Just because you like to do something doesn’t mean you are good at it or that it benefits your business. For example, spending hours watching YouTube videos to learn how to fix a minor issue with your website might not be the best use of your time as a business owner.
Hiring an independent contractor or intern or delegating the job to someone on your team will not only save you time but will save you money in the long run. As the owner, you want to concentrate on higher-level projects that will grow your business, bring in revenue, and positively impact your community.
There are many potential time wasters that we need to look out for as business owners. Hopefully, these tips will help you get out of the time-wasting rabbit hole and realize that your job as the CEO is to concentrate on growing or maintaining your business, inspiring those around you, and being an integral part of your community.
1Cirillo F. The Pomodoro Technique (3rd ed.). FC Garage GmbH.