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Beat The Clock & Reclaim Your Day: Time For a Time Management Check-up!

The Dirty Apron & Co.’s Top Tips for Food Business Efficiency and Effectiveness

It’s 7pm and the day has passed in a complete whirl. One minute you were grabbing your morning cuppa and getting stuck in to your immense accumulation of email correspondence; the next, your phone is bleeping with a text reminder that you need to meet your extended family for that special birthday dinner at 8pm.

So, where did those mystery ten to twelve hours go in between? Is there some sort of time warp in operation? Why is your to-do list so freakishly long? And, as the working day comes to a close, why are there more (and not fewer!) emails in your inbox?

Of course, we all get those days when we’re chasing our tails; when instead of feeling a sense of satisfaction upon reaching the close of business, we endure exhaustion and disquiet at the recognition of our lack of achievement. However, when the ‘one of those days’ sentiment starts to become the daily norm, it’s time to re-evaluate your time management strategies.

How can food businesses boost their performance and productivity? Is there a way out of the endless cycle of incomplete tasks that seem to be inherently linked to a food entrepreneur’s hectic daily routine? And, if it’s possible, will it be painless?

Yes, we believe that it is possible and yes, it’s relatively painless. A few changes to your behaviour and outlook are often all it takes to beat the clock and reclaim your day.

So, if you want your up and coming food business to hit the big time, don’t dwell on the past…!! Follow The Dirty Apron & Co.’s top tips for a brand new flawless routine – we’ll help kick-start your day and ensure it runs like absolute clockwork:

1. Call Time on Social Media:

Social validation, the intrinsic human need to ‘share’ our thoughts and feelings, FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and even weaknesses in our self-esteem have been put forward as rationales behind social media’s addictiveness.

We’ve all been there: you’re working on that all-important new product development proposal; your creativity is exhausted and your mind is beginning to go numb. To counter that feeling of near burnout you contend that a very quick social media fix (just five minutes!) will offer the perfect antidote.

However, twenty-five minutes later and you’re still scrolling and refreshing; you now have five new tabs open in your browser – these have very little to do with the new product development document you were working on and a lot to do with cute kittens, your bestie’s hen night/stag party plans, the movie trailer for an upcoming blockbuster, your cousin’s Facebook pics of his Mediterranean holiday and… well, you get the idea… you’ve taken a tiny detour from your to-do list.

The solution? Most time management specialists would tell you that it’s as easy as pie: simply stay offline (or at least off social media) during your working day.

For us here at The Dirty Apron & Co., we know that for food entrepreneurs it isn’t really that straightforward, is it…?

As the owner-manager of a food business, social media is a lifeline for your brand. You can’t very well ‘call time’ on social networking when it’s a vital element in your business plan. So, here are some handy ideas for reconciling your time management methodology with the very real need to shout about your products via as many social media platforms as possible:

Subscribe to A Third Party Scheduling App:

While it has its flaws, third party scheduling apps offers a handy time-saving strategy for food businesses. Using just one convenient dashboard, these apps allows the user to make universal updates across all social media platforms. So, if you use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ and more, you can save time by wording and choosing relevant photos just once – your generic social media post is then shared across all of the platforms you’re active on.

Very handy, right? Well, yes it is; but remember that it’s a shortcut and sharing updates via a third party app instead of logging in to individual platforms can mean that you may miss out on the bigger picture when it comes to monitoring the impact of your social brand campaigns.

Make the most of your social media activity by only posting at peak times.

For example, check your Facebook page insights to find out the peak times your audience is online – schedule two posts per day accordingly. Your time is precious; a calculated plan of action in terms of social media activity will ensure that you are maximising your efficiency and productivity.

Quick tip: If you’re still getting to grips with the data outlined in the insights section of your social media dashboards, check out the ‘Best Times to Post on Social Media’ research on Sprout Social.

Set your alarm:

Allocate a max of twenty to thirty-five minutes to your work-related social media activity. Be strict with yourself – set a timer on your mobile phone and move on to other tasks when the alarm sounds!

Separate Business & Pleasure

When it comes to social media, many food entrepreneurs we deal with find that it’s useful to separate their personal and business accounts. In fact we’d recommend it as a ‘best practice’ approach. So, that means no distracting personal notifications when you log into social media platforms – work profiles mean work-related notifications only!

2. Start to Delegate Like a Boss:

Whether you’re actually the boss, second in command or somewhere else along the chain of seniority, the concept is still key. Savvy delegation skills will free up vast chunks of time and allow you to power through your core responsibilities.

If you’re working within a small to medium food business, perhaps not every member of staff has a clearly defined job title and job description. However, here at The Dirty Apron & Co., we’d recommend that your take matters into your own hands. Begin by writing a description of what you understand your key daily tasks to be; in addition, outline a brief overview of how your specific role or ‘job title’ relates to the fundamental overall goals of the business.

By gaining a clear understanding of your role and responsibilities, you’ll be better placed to make a quick call on whether an incoming task should be added to your to-do list or bounced forward to a colleague or external contractor.  

Of course, if budgets are tight, delegating tasks to others might sound like a luxury that you can’t sustain. Think about the cost-benefit side of things though… if the delegation of tasks alleviates your workload so that you can concentrate on strategically developing your business and growing your turnover, it might just be the most practical and profitable approach in the medium to long term.

3. Make Sure It’s Crunch Time With the 80/20 Rule

The 80/20 Rule, otherwise known as the Pareto Principle, was conceived by a clever Italian economist.

Way back in 1895, Vilfredo Pareto, discovered that people in his surrounding society seemed to naturally divide into two groups:

  1. the ‘vital few’ (the top 20% in terms of money and influence) and

  2. the ‘trivial many’ (the lower earning and less influential 80%).

Fast-forward to 2018 and the Pareto Principle is being used for a multitude of purposes. From socio-economic research and management studies, to sports science, accident prevention and life-coaching, Pareto has become the go-to guy for weighing up concepts relating to balance and distribution.

Right… now, getting back to time-management…

For us, the Pareto Principle matters because the big-wig socio-economists and management aficionados tell us that 20% of our activities produce 80% of our results.

Leadership and sales training expert, Brian Tracy, explains the phenomenon well when he states:  

“…. this rule says that 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 20% of your customers will account for 80% of your sales. 20% of your products or services will account for 80% of your profits. 20% of your tasks will account for 80% of the value of what you do, and so on.

This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth as much or more than the other eight items put together”.

So, once you understand that just 20% of your workload is crucial in propelling your business forward, while the other 80% is of no massive significance, you’re going to start looking at your to-do list in a whole new light. Naturally, the key to ensuring that the Pareto rule helps boost your productivity is to establish which tasks comprise that illustrious super-constructive 20%.

How about starting your day tomorrow by scanning your to-do list and designating a ‘20’ or ‘80’ weight of importance to each item on the list? Followers of the Pareto Principle approach to time management will advocate that you should never begin tackling the ‘80’ tasks until your ‘20’ tasks are complete. Plus, it’s advised to start with the absolute most dread-inspiring chores.

Go on, experiment with the Pareto Principle – bite the bullet tomorrow morning and get stuck in to those challenging ‘20’ assignments. Just make sure that you have a strong morning brew by your side!

4. Clock Out & Take A Break – Mind Your Mental Health

Were your parents the type who told you repetitively to keep working until all your homework was done? No breaks, no treats, no TV until everything’s finished…

Or, were you lucky enough to have an indulgent parent or grandparent who was constantly bringing you tea and cookies and reminding you that it’s time to take a study break; to get some healthy fresh air and exercise?

Perhaps your early experiences of dealing with deadlines have coloured your established work patterns. However, whatever your ingrained workplace habits, it’s important to sit up and take note of the latest research.

According to the most up-to-date findings, we all need to clock out regularly.

Some productivity experts even recommend that a ten-minute break should be taken for every sixty minutes of work. As a busy food entrepreneur, a break every hour might be off the table, but the contemporary outlook certainly views regular breaks as highly beneficial – it’s all about making the most of your workday. Here’s what they’re saying over at ‘Psychology Today’:

“Counter to intuition, taking breaks at work may actually boost performance…. Breaks can replenish the psychological costs associated with working hard, improve work performance, and boost energy.
At some point, employees need to stop working to recharge their batteries, so to speak. Short breaks during the work day can actually boost mental resources such as attention, ensuring good performance”.

Besides, remembering to clock out and take regular breaks is a recognised strategy for improving your mental strength and endurance – all good for building entrepreneurial resilience! Throw some daily exercise (or at least some exercise several times per week) into the mix and you’ll really be doing yourself a favour as regular exercise is linked to improved energy and alertness.

What’s more, with exercise being associated with an improved immune system, you should be in a position where you’re taking less time off due to colds and flus.

So, there you have it… working around the clock won’t necessarily improve your productivity, but regular breaks and scheduled interludes for your exercise regime can be a win-win for time management.

5. Create An Interruption-Free Zone

Whether it’s the bleep of an incoming message, or yet another question from an employee or colleague, interruptions are par for the course when you’re working within a hectic food business environment.

But, let’s think about how much more work you could plough through, without those interruptions. If you’ve begun to find that achieving a disruption-free hour of unadulterated work has become a rare feat indeed, consider implementing as many as possible of these tips and tricks:

  • There are plenty of apps and digital platforms that allow you to apportion blocks of time to various assignments. If you’re working on a project that requires a considerate amount of concentration, earmark the time block as a ‘Do Not Disturb’ segment of your schedule. Share your work calendar with colleagues and family members; emphasise (in a gentle but firm manner!) that it’s vital that you remain uninterrupted during these ‘DND’ periods – unless it’s an absolute emergency, it can wait!

  • Are you an early bird or a night owl? If you’re naturally an early morning person, consider hitting the office before the world around you is completely awake. If you find you work best late in the evening, consider starting your working day a little later than normal and working through into the evening. When you are your own boss or work within a flexible working environment, why not? It’s your chance to get jobs done when you’re surrounded by less hustle and bustle.

  • Schedule more meetings: Hmmm…. Scheduling more meetings might not immediately sound like a way to improve your productivity. But think of it this way: there is no getting away from it – your colleagues, employees and contractors will always have questions and queries that you need to deal with; besides, it’s your responsibility to provide good channels of communication. So, by planning regular meetings and catch-ups, you’ll spare yourself unexpected and unwanted interruptions when you really don’t want to deal with them.

Have you found our Top Tips for Food Business Efficiency and Effectiveness useful?

What are you own experiences (positive or negative!) of managing a challenging schedule? Have you developed your very own tactics for beating the clock and reclaiming your day? We’re looking forward to hearing your stories, just tug on our apron strings...

If you have any questions, make sure to ask inside my Facebook group, Bite-sized Marketing Morsels with The Dirty Apron & Co. This is one of my favourite places to hang out! On this sounding board, I get personal and raw while introducing you to other food industry movers-and-shakers, bringing mini-trainings right to your feed for delicious results. 

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The Dirty Apron & Co. is a one-stop shop that turns delicious dreams into reality. Rachel and her team are specialists in food marketing for retail or wholesale food businesses, cafes, restaurants and caterers.

They are passionate about all

things food, and have the know- how, experience and industry contacts to help new food businesses get started.