|Susan Solovic, The Small Business Expert is an award-winning entrepreneur, an attorney, a New York Times best-selling author, a media personality and a highly sought after keynote speaker.|
The Workday is Short: Here's How to Make the Most of It
When I'm on the road and talking to small business owners, one of the biggest problems they seem to face is a lack of time.
Throughout history, the invention of time-saving devices usually ends up creating more work for us. When the time required to complete one task is shortened by a new invention, another task springs up to fill the void. Both nature and small business owners' schedules abhor a vacuum.
However, this isn't a hopeless situation. The key is to organize and concentrate your tasks so they can be completed efficiently. Fortunately, we have technology-based tools that can really help us out. Let me illustrate with some examples.
Social media can control you, or you can control social media. I suggest the second approach. If your business is making good use of social media, set aside a block of time to get it all done at once. If you go back and forth all day, just pecking away at it each time, your social media program will prove to be a huge time waster.
Apps bundle your tasks
Free TweetDeck lets you compose and schedule tweets as well as take other actions within Twitter. Hootsuite, also free, lets you easily compose and schedule posts to most of your social media accounts. Further, for a reasonable fee, TweetAdder can automate Twitter "thank you" messages and retweets, and make a variety of other tasks easier as well.
These apps allow you to concentrate your social media work into one solid block of your day. Many of them also allow you to take care of social media tasks in places where you might otherwise be unproductive. (Like waiting in line to get the new iPhone?) Now, there is one more thing you need to do to make sure you're investing your time wisely: Be sure your efforts are truly focused.
Let me make two true statements: First: Business tasks deserve your complete attention. Second: You deserve some breaks throughout the workday. The tricky part is to work out the balance between these two truths and a system that allows you to fulfill each.
A real tomato
Consider a Pomodoro timer. The Pomodoro technique is basically 25 minutes of uninterrupted concentration on a task followed by a five-minute break. Every fourth Pomodoro period is followed by a 15-minute break. The name, by the way, is the Italian word for tomato, from the old, tomato-shaped kitchen timers.
The Pomodoro period is uninterrupted. If you get interrupted, you need to start over with the timer. The idea is to get your work flow maximized through unbroken focus. There are free and inexpensive web based timers as well as smartphone apps.
Let's compare investing our money with investing our time. If you collect your loose change each day and then put it all into a savings account, you wouldn't toss random slugs in with the quarters, would you? It's the same with our time. Keep it pure and focused on important tasks. And when it's time for a break, enjoy it.