As the old saying goes, “Time is money”.

Small businesses know this all too well. But often employees have to wear multiple hats and take care of several things at once, so it’s especially easy to lose track of time. What they sometimes don’t realize is how important time management is for a financially sustainable business.

Small companies face many costs, like rent, insurance, taxes, payrolls, marketing and advertising budgets, and so on. These are well-known, but there are also other silent, hidden costs – and poor time management is definitely one of them.

How Are Employees Wasting Time?

Did you know that the average employee spends 2.5 hours a day answering email? And that figure doesn’t even come entirely from client emails: due to lack of proper communication tools, employees waste a lot of time answering internal communication.

Employees also get interrupted every 11 minutes while working by notifications, new email (again) and co-workers.

The open office design, that was so popular in recent years, has made things worse and it’s proven to harm employees’ productivity and concentration. It takes up to 20 minutes for the human brain to refocus once it’s been derailed.

Meetings have been listed as one of the most dreaded time-wasting activity for employees.

A shocking figure by Atlassian shows that the annual salary cost of unnecessary meetings is $37 billion for US businesses.

Lack of direction and communication can also hinder the positive outcome of any assignment by forcing workers to review their work, reschedule tasks, and generally struggle to finish their work on time.

These few examples show the many ways in which employees’ hours are wasted, instead of being spent on more productive and profitable activities.

The Effects of Poor Time Management In Business

When time management is off, it can impact some crucial aspect of a business’ life:

  • Wrong estimates

When you have poor management of time, and tend to work around the clock with no idea how time is really spent, it’s more difficult to estimate projects.

  • Delays

This goes without saying: when you don’t manage time well, the risk is running out of it. Especially when working with tight deadlines, small delays can pile up and trigger a negative chain effect on the rest.

Missed deadlines will, in the long run, damage the business’ reputation – and since small businesses rely on word-of-mouth, bad reviews from present clients make prospects run away.

  • Cost overruns

When estimates are off, it’s easy to be forced to put in extra work to finish projects. The extra work, of course, has a cost.

Whether the company eventually decides to add extra charges for the clients or to get that money back from somewhere else, cost overruns can hurt the business in the long run.

  • Heavy workloads and stress

Work stress is soaring worldwide, with a staggering amount of employees suffering from burnout. In the US, for example, companies are putting up with extra costs to support their workers’ medical bills.

What’s more, burnout affects not only employees but managers too, with consequences on the company as a whole.

A Few Time-saving Solutions

Ironically, many small businesses claim they don’t have time to think about time management. Still, a few small changes combined with the right tools can have a huge difference in helping your company make the best of its time:

  • Change mindset

As Tim Ferris famously said:

Focus on being productive instead of being busy.

Teach your team (and yourself!) to value the quality of work, not the quantity or the number of hours worked. With clear prioritization, you’ll be able to sort out the tasks that really matter and that have more impact on the success of your work.

  • Put Technology to Good Use

Create a system that makes everybody productive by using the right tools. Technology can lend a helping hand when we can’t manage time on our own.

To have an overview of where the time is going, spreadsheets are the easiest solutions, although some employees might find them clunky and difficult to fill. Time tracking software is an alternative, more accurate way of knowing precisely where time goes.

  • Cherish Transparency and Communication

Grow a culture of transparency and cooperation to avoid costs and mistakes popping out at the last minute.

Firstly, be upfront with your clients and tell them exactly what’s included in their contract, and what is not. Update them regularly and establish clear and shared deadlines to avoid nasty surprises and misunderstandings.

Secondly, make sure your team doesn’t have to chase managers around to seek the information they need. Create archives that are easily accessible, using tools like Dropbox. Don’t forget to be clear about goals and expectations for the project.

If time is, indeed, money, make sure your staff is putting their work hours to good use!

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Author: Stefania Rossi, CMO at Timeneye