We waste a lot of time in the office. When billable hours are involved, this becomes a huge problem for profitability and efficiency. In the first of a two-part series, Bryce Sanders outlines time-saving steps to create an extra hour in your work day.
The 50-minute hour
In the US, a CPD credit requires 50 minutes of instruction. Psychiatrists say “Your hour is up” after 50 minutes. You already use time blocking. Instead of working for 60 minutes, then composing your notes and preparing for the next task, allocate 10 minutes of that hour to prep and summarising. You are still working for the client, however you are including their record keeping time in that hour.
Time Saved: Your day has at least three time-blocked hours. Including 10 minutes of prep time in each saves 30 minutes.
People are always late
You are meeting a client or colleague for lunch. They haven’t turned up yet. Ideally, they called to let you know they are running late. Instead of waiting by the elevator, stay at your desk. Keep a list of short tasks or projects available. Wading through emails is an obvious example. Required reading is another. If they arrive in five minutes or 15, you have made productive use of the time.
Time Saved: You have at least two meetings or appointments daily that don’t start on time because of late arrivals. Assuming they are 10 minutes late, that’s a potential saving of 20 minutes.
Distractions always occur
You are a professional. Resist the urge to answer your own phone. The only time you can reach your doctor immediately is when he has news that must be delivered personally. When you have time blocked an hour for a project, have your assistant take messages or let calls go to voicemail. You can review messages and return calls at the end of the hour. You may not have wanted to talk with that person anyway.
Time Saved: During your three time-blocked hours, you might receive five calls. Only two need returning. Assuming calls are at least three minutes, those three calls you didn’t take saved nine minutes. Friends can be called after business hours.
Your phone probably displays the length of each call for client billing purposes. Not all calls are billable time. One strategy is to keep a three-minute egg timer on your desk. It requires turning over to keep the sand flowing. It’s a tangible reminder how much time this call has taken, very useful when friends start telling long stories. Another strategy is to buy a long phone cord or wireless headset. Walk around on calls that don’t require looking at spreadsheets. The physical activity will shorten the call.
Time Saved: The high energy comes through in your voice as you pace the room. During the day you have shaved a minute off 12 calls. The other person doesn’t feel rushed, they just realise you are in the middle of something important. That’s a potential time saving of 12 minutes.
The net result: the four simple steps above have the potential for saving 61 minutes per day. Next week Bryce will look at the steps managers can take to create an extra hour every day.