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Efficiency Experiment - Week 5. Improve your routines

We all have processes that we do daily, weekly or monthly. Sometimes we don't even recognise they exist or that we are doing them, this is when they have become routines and happen naturally.

As we enter week 5 of the experiment to make James the most efficient small business owner in the UK, we focus on how to improve routines, how to review the processes we do, so we can make our lives better.

Short Term Pain For Long Term Gain

Reviewing things you do a lot and have probably been doing for years will cause initial disruption. It will annoy you to have to review it. You'll think it's not worth the effort. We get that.

But stop and look at the numbers.

Let's say you have a task you do 10 times a week. If you looked at the task and could improve it in some way (change the order, automate parts of it etc...) and save 2 minutes on how long it takes, then over the course of a month, you've saved one and a half hours!

Now if that task took you an hour to review, you are already ahead within a month and over a year you've saved days of time. But if I asked you now 'Go spend an hour reviewing this job you do fine every day' - you'd never do it.

You need to focus on the long term gain. If you are able to improve one process a fortnight, you'll be making a huge difference to your working life.

One recent example for me was my banking. I knew that because I have so many regular payments and invoices into our business account, if I took the time to set up automated connections on Xero, these would all reconcile themselves and I wouldn't need to manually do this each week.

But I didn't because it was an extra job I'd need to do and it doesn't take me too long to go in each week and manually reconcile things. But then I timed myself and I was spending 5 minutes every week doing this. So I bit the bullet.

It took me 10 minutes to set the automation up and now I don't need to disrupt my work to do the task and I save myself time every week. Think small to gain big long term.

Content Planning

One big job where this type of efficiency thinking really helped us at Thirty Three Percent was content writing and distribution. We write and post a lot of content. Between us, we had been merrily writing and creating content since we started the company and we felt relatively organised.

Someone was responsible for the writing, someone built images, we came up with ideas whilst chatting etc... But as it's something that takes up a lot of our working week, we decided to review it.

We changed the order we did things, so no one person was waiting on the other. We ensured the expert on a certain job was responsible for it, so it got completed faster. We created a list of content ideas in a dedicated session, so we don't have to think up new ideas each week. I think in the end we made over nearly 10 changes!

At the end of all the changes we made to our process, we achieved two massive things

  1. We saved roughly three hours a week in our content production. Time that can be dedicated to helping our clients

  2. We are doing a better job at content. The quality has improved

That's one of the things people often forget with efficiency improvements, they save you time so you can have that back to do an even better job. Less stress and more focus.

Go off and write down the 5 things you do the most, no matter how small they are and see if you can amend them slightly to be more efficient. The longer you have been doing them, the better chance that your habits are disguising the potential improvements - then let us know how you get on.

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