As a business owner, your time is arguably your company’s most valuable asset. Besides the level of expertise and experience, you’re able to bring to the table, your hourly rate is quite a bit higher than that of the average employee!
How do you strip back all of the simple job duties, routine tasks, and other fluff in order to allocate your time to areas that will have a greater and more direct impact on your business’s profitability and long-term success? How do you spend less time putting out fires and spend more time strategizing for the future?
Enter the time audit. This simple but effective mechanism will give you a better idea of where your time is being spent and how it could be spent more effectively. Let’s take a closer look at this invaluable tool and show you exactly how to apply it to your business!
What Is the Goal of a Time Audit?
First, what is the purpose of the time audit? Simply put, the goal of a time audit is to help you free up your schedule by at least four hours per week—four hours that you can use to work directly on your business. This might include any of the following tasks:
- Strategizing to boost sales
- Strategizing to increase profits
- Training managers and high-level employees
- Creating, testing, and documenting systems
- … and much more!
Imagine how your business might look a year from now if you were able to commit four hours each week to working on your business rather than merely in your business. That’s an additional 200-plus hours that is being dedicated to the most valuable aspects of your business. Needless to say, you would be miles ahead of your competition!
On the other hand, imagine what would happen if you didn’t spend time working on your business while your competition spent more time working on their business. You could easily lose any competitive edge you currently have, and instead, find yourself behind the eight ball.
Now that you see the importance of working on your business, it’s time to make that happen—with a time audit!
How to Perform Your 4-Step Time Audit
Ready to begin your very first-time audit? The good news is that any business owner can complete an actionable time audit in four simple and straightforward steps:
1. Track How Your Time Is Being Spent
Over the next two weeks, keep track of how you are spending your time. This means that every time you perform a new task, write it down or add it to a log. It’s important that you make this list as accurate and detailed as possible, as you will need to refer to it repeatedly during your audit.
2. Determine Your Current Hourly Rate
Regardless of their position or how they are paid, everyone has an hourly rate. Determine what your hourly rate is as the owner of your company. It might be $50, $100, $200, or even higher.
3. Eliminate Line Items That Can Be Delegated
With your list of tasks and hourly rate in hand, start crossing out items that can either be delegated to another employee or outsourced to a subcontractor that could do it better for a lower cost. If you’re performing a routine task that has no impact on the customer experience, it’s a waste of your time!
Many business owners are able to free up 80% of their schedule simply by refusing to do work that someone else could do.
4. Determine What You Should Be Working On
In The Time Blueprint for Entrepreneurs, Michelle McCullough notes five areas where business owners should be focusing all of their time:
- Creating new products and services
- Marketing current products and services
- Fulfilling orders
- Managing the business and employees
- Learning new skills
If a task doesn’t directly affect one of these five areas, eliminate, delegate, or outsource it. At our business, we outsource all of our bookkeeping and payroll returns. Even most personal tax returns have been delegated to our staff.
Of course, I still review everything for quality control purposes; but I have freed up a significant portion of my schedule simply by giving up tasks that someone else can perform to a similar (and sometimes better!) level.