Most business-minded people rank time as their number one most valuable asset: yes, ahead of their computer, their company’s website, and even their physical office. Studies have shown that having just one extra hour in a workday was worth a lot of money to most people.
So what’s your time worth to you? If minutes are money, here are a few ways you can spend your most valuable asset wisely:
Get an assistant.
Let’s be honest: We all want one. Back in the day when I couldn’t afford one, I made one up: Seriously, I created an e-mail address–“firstname.lastname@example.org”–and I used it to coordinate meetings and respond to press queries, thereby giving the perception that I was a bigger deal than I actually was. I have no shame in admitting that, because the truth is that a lot of us do wild things to “fake it till we make it.”
Cut the e-mail addiction.
Remember, connectivity and multitasking don’t always equate to higher productivity. Resist the temptation to be hyper-plugged in; instead, schedule specific times throughout the day to check e-mail. I actually like to wait a good hour at the beginning of the workday before responding to any e-mails. Instead, I start my day with a handwritten list of what I want to achieve (along with a strong cup of coffee . . . or two).
Only after the list is made and the coffee is consumed do I check my e-mail, and then I take a break from e-mail again until lunchtime. I find this helps me focus on the task at hand instead of getting sucked down an online K-hole (we’ve all been there . . . it’s like the online equivalent of going into Target for one box of tissues and then reemerging hours later with a full cart).
Similarly, I keep my outgoing e-mails to a minimum by keeping a Google Doc open for each of my employees, so I can jot down notes and reminders throughout the day. Then I send them the whole shebang at the end of the day as a nice, organized list. I know my employees love to hear from me (duh!), but let’s be honest, it’s not efficient for anyone for me to be poking them with one-off e-mails all day long. So unless it’s urgent, I add it to their master list and then deliver it all at once so we can all remain head down and focused throughout the day.
Embrace your social addiction, responsibly.
Many money experts will tell you to cut your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram habit to get more done during the day. Well, I think that’s crap. I regularly find story ideas, project inspiration, and even potential partnerships by exploring my social media feeds. Used correctly, social media can be a huge asset to the business of you.
But just like your e-mail, schedule some time each day to update and scan your feeds. Pick a time when you are typically lower energy; for example, I like to go through my social media from two to three p.m. each day, when I tend to be a little sleepy and less focused. My social media time provides a nice mental break so I can power through the rest of the day.
My production company co-founder has a bum knee from running marathons and often needs to go to physical therapy. During those times, she has “personal” blocked out on her calendar so that no one can schedule meetings or calls with her during that time. So if you have personal stuff you need to take care of during the workday, schedule it. I trust her enough not to use that time to go shopping or fuck around, and plus I need my people healthy, happy, and firing on all cylinders.
Don’t waste time being a dummy.
It’s not enough to protect your time from other people trying to claim it; you also have to save yourself from your own time suck. Yes–the curse of wasting your own damn time. Sometimes, it’s an honest mistake: failing to schedule your day efficiently or setting a needless meeting with someone that really could have been a quick phone call. But other times, it’s being just plain dumb–and that’s on you, sister.
In some cases, investing a little time can actually help you save time. Think of all of the hours of productivity you’ve flushed down the pooper over the years by trying to smile and nod your way through a project you knew nothing about, instead of just getting all of the information up front. This smiling-and-nodding syndrome–when you have no idea what’s being said but pretend you do–is not just bad from a learning standpoint, but from an efficiency standpoint, as well.