Surviving these unprecedented times calls for some creative problem solving. Today’s economic turmoil means ecommerce store owners are doing more than they’ve ever done before, and they’re doing it with less—less resources, less security, and less bandwidth.
And that’s saying something. Even before the current situation, most ecommerce store owners (70% to be exact) told us they take on two or more roles in their day-to-day work and 53% take on three or more roles every single day.
We asked store owners how they manage their time (you can see the complete study here) and 84% of shop owners don’t think they spend their time effectively.
It’s no wonder why: Back in February when we ran the survey, 30% of 1,000+ store owners we polled told us they solve bandwidth issues by rolling up their sleeves and simply doing more themselves.
There are only so many hours in a day and, at some point, you’re going to run out of time (or out of steam). Or maybe a pandemic emerges and forces you to take on more work than you have the capacity to handle while also navigating ongoing health concerns.
So how do you find more time in an already packed day?
Not only is burning the candle at both ends bad for your mental health, it’s also bad for business. While there might be seasons when you need to dedicate that many hours to your ecommerce shop, it’s not a long term solution to your store’s time management problem.
If you’re looking for more time in your calendar, follow these steps to find where your time is going and get more of it back.
1. Audit your time.
The first step to solving your time management challenge is to audit your time.
You probably think you know where you’re time is going, but often what we think we’re doing isn’t what we’re actually doing. So start your time management journey by auditing the tasks you’re doing and how long they take you.
For an entire week, track where you spend your time and categorize each task into a broader category such as operations and finance, administration, marketing, sales and customer support, etc.
Start a spreadsheet or find an app that will track your time for you. Find a solution that works with your schedule in order to stick with it and get the insight you need. It’s 2020 and we have the technology, people.
When you’re done, take a hard look at how you’re spending your time: Are you one of the 33% who say marketing is the key to success for 2020, yet are only giving it 17% of your 40 hour work week?
When you know where you’re spending your time you can see firsthand how many hours you spend on tasks that keep your business running versus the tasks that align with your goals.
If you’re spending a lot of time in one area, but you enjoy those tasks and they grow your business, then great! The goal isn’t to limit the time you spend on every area of your business, but rather to find where your time isn’t efficient or worthwhile and to limit those tasks.
2. Streamline your work.
Once you know where you have room to improve, you’ll be able to triage your time management overhaul. Instead of trying to fix all your time management issues immediately and implementing too many changes at once—and therefore sticking with none of them—find the one area where you’re spending the most time without seeing much return.
Or maybe you just pick the area where you’re spending time and you don’t enjoy it.
Either way, choose one area of running your store where you’re spending time and focus on finding specific solutions before moving on to the next area.
Here are some quick tips and tricks to managing your time and streamlining your calendar:
- One of the main rules of time management is that humans don’t multitask well. Practice blocking time so you spend a few hours working on one task—and one task only—before moving on to the next one.
- Look at the processes your store has in place. Can you reduce the number of steps you have in place? Can you limit the number of approvals something needs? Multiple steps means more time—and it means more chances for something to fall through the cracks.
- Set a timer while working on time-consuming tasks. When you look at where you’re spending your time, ask yourself if that much time is really necessary. For instance, if you write and edit blog posts, you might need to set a timer and only edit posts for an hour. At the end of that hour, move on. Of course, we don’t suggest publishing subpar work, but one hour of work fits the ROI you’ll get back.
The trick is to find ways to work smarter and more efficiently. Sometimes setting a timer is enough to keep you on task and focused so that you do better work in less time than you normally would.
3. Find an outside solution.
You might find that there’s just no way for you to work smarter and minimize the time you’re spending on some tasks. At that point, it’s time to outsource.
You can only work so hard and so efficiently before you max out the time you’ve got available.
You don’t have to start off by hiring a brand new team. Instead, see if there’s a freelancer you can work with to offload your tasks. If at the end of a month you’re seeing better returns for your time, it might be time to invest in bringing on another full-time employee.
Whether you bring in a freelancer, hire a team, or invest in automation tools (like CM Commerce), some tasks will depend on your ecommerce store.
It might be intimidating or frustrating to hear that you need to bring in some outside help, but consider the long-term goals for your store. If you want to keep growing, finding help is an investment in the future or your store—and in your own mental health.
Learn more from the research study.
The stats we cite in this blog are taken from our recent research study, Ecommerce Confessions: How 1000+ Store Owners Spend Their Time. You can read more insights and download the entire guide here.