Wouldn’t you love to cut 5, 10, 15, 20 hours from your work week?
This summer I ran a poll in two different Facebook Groups and asked Shopkeepers what the biggest struggle is with their businesses.
- In one group, it was “Getting their business seen”.
- In the other group, it was “Time Management”.
These were either #1 or #2 in BOTH polls so they are both clearly concerns for shop owners.
Let me preface this post by first saying that if you are in pre-launch phase or in your first year as a brick & mortar store owner you are most likely working crazy hours and that is normal. But after year one, it’s time for you to sit back and decide if you REALLY want to work 50-80+ hour weeks.
If you don’t, then stay with me.
My sister and I both knew we wanted to work smarter not harder, particularly after celebrating our one year anniversary as brick & mortar store owners.
We are now approaching our three-year anniversary and we each work on average 27 hours per week. We don’t have any employees and we are open 5 days a week.
How did we do this? We started implementing some time management strategies.
Now that I KNOW Time Management is a struggle for shopkeepers I am here to offer my top 5 tips for time management. I know these work because I have implemented them myself.
5 tips for time management:
BATCH – dedicating blocks of time to similar tasks in order to decrease distraction and increase productivity
This is ideal for making products, blogging, scheduling and more.
How do I use this time management technique? I now try to batch social media posts for a week. I also batch when I list new workshops on our website and then batch again when I list them all as events on Facebook. Batching allows a person to maximize concentration and decrease distraction.
AUTOMATE – convert a process to an automatic operation.
This is ideal for the little tasks you consistently and repeatedly do. They are sometimes annoying and you wish you could have someone just do them for you. In order to implement automation, you have to find the right tool to help you accomplish the task.
How do I use this time management technique? I use the scheduling tool on Facebook to post to our page (this combined with batching is such a time saver!). Using the scheduling tool means I don’t have to be “ready” at 7 am or 7 pm to post on Facebook. I use “canned emails” in Gmail to respond to emails with questions that we receive often. Research your email platform and find out how to do this, it can save you many minutes. Instead of typing out the same response over and over again, I now use a “canned email” and respond with that.
DELEGATE – entrust (a task or responsibility) to another person, typically one who is less senior than oneself.
If you have employees or a biz partner, delegate tasks to them! If you like to have control, then start with small tasks and work your way up. If you are truly solo in your business this may not be possible… BUT don’t give up on the idea of delegating yet. You might have to delegate tasks outside of your business so that you can RUN YOUR BUSINESS. So maybe it’s daycare, maybe it’s asking your spouse to pick up or drop off kids, maybe it’s asking a grandparent to take kid(s) to a sporting practice or event. As shopkeepers, we love to think we can do it all ourselves and we may hate asking for help but you MUST.
How do I use this time management technique? My sister and I experienced first-hand doing it all ourselves until we reached a breaking point in 2017 when we handled EVERYTHING for an outdoor market we participated in. The Market was a success but at the end when we were unloading the moving truck my sister pulled a shoulder muscle and we were physically WIPED OUT for days. In 2018, we asked 4 male family members to help us and although we were still tired it wasn’t nearly as bad as the year before. ASK-FOR-HELP.
BLOCK TIME – a technique that involves scheduling blocks of time designated for specific actions or tasks throughout the day, week, month or year. These tasks should be associated with your short-term and long-term goals and must be blocked out in accordance with the realistic number of hours available each day.
This ideal if you have a crazy schedule, want to set boundaries for yourself and your business, and need to get focused.
How do I use this time management technique? – My friend Kris taught me this concept earlier this year. When trying to figure out how to keep my hours for The Salvaged Boutique to a minimum, I learned that blocking time out in my day (by color) was a great way to keep me focused and accountable. Now I have dedicated time to workout in the mornings, dedicated time to work in and on the store, and I’ve learned to block out evenings for my family or other activities because my brain works best in the mornings and early afternoon.
SYSTEMATIZE – arrange according to an organized system; make systematic.
This is ideal for processes and procedures in your business.
How do I use this time management technique? This is one we have probably implemented the most. We now have a system for custom order consultations (a written contract and scheduling process), for teaching people how to take care of their painted furniture pieces (a printed care instruction sheet nicely wrapped around a microfiber cloth with a ribbon), for pricing custom services (a spreadsheet with starting prices for all types of furniture), for taking workshop orders in-store (an order form for customers to fill out), for taking other custom orders in-store, for paying ourselves (another spreadsheet), I can go on and on! No more guessing, no more looking at each other with a blank look. My sister and I have systems in place for MANY things in our business and whenever something new comes up – I look to SYSTEMATIZE it.
If you think implementing some of these tips won’t save you much time, you will be SURPRISED! Every bit counts.
Start thinking about all of the things in your business that you can set up a system or process for that would save you time. Even if it’s minutes. Minutes times more minutes = hours.
Now work on that list of yours – yes grab your NOTES app or pen and paper and document it. Create a list of 5-10 things in your business where you could apply one of these time management tips and start saving yourself some time! Let me know how it goes.
If you are looking to be a savvy business owner, this is the place for you.
Want to engage with fellow shopkeepers? Join the Savvy Shopkeepers Facebook Group. (A free group for women who own an online shop or brick & mortar store and would like to learn from each other.)
I look forward to sharing how I’ve been able to help build, market and manage a retail store with my sister—all on a budget. ~ Kathy