As a retailer, you know better than anyone that time is practically money. When you waste time on inefficient processes, you’re leaving money on the table that will quickly be scooped up by your competitors.

But whether you’re a seasoned retail manager or someone who just opened a new store, it’s easy to get pulled in different directions on any given day. It can be difficult to focus on one task at a time when you’re trying to deal with clients, train staff and maybe get a few hours of sleep at night.

In retail, success is not just about how much you sell, but how you manage your time. It’s about working smarter and getting more done, and here are 10 tips to help you make better use of all your precious time.

Make a to-do list

Sounds pretty obvious, right? But how many times have you gone through your day rushing from task to task, only to feel like you’ve gotten absolutely nothing done? Exactly. Start by writing down your tasks in advance, either the day before or in the morning.

According to to investigate, our willpower is stronger at the beginning of the day. Use this to your advantage and do the most important tasks first and you will have a better chance of finishing what needs to be done. Also, most stores tend to get busier as the day goes on, so dedicate the first part of the day to the most important tasks on your to-do list.

If you don’t like pen and paper, there are various to-do list apps that can help you out in one go. For example, Google Keep is free for iOS and Android and is designed with large “cards” for each task that can be customized to make them stand out. Apple Notes comes pre-installed on iPhones and offers a sync feature that keeps everything together. Not affiliated with any major company, has panels that appear and disappear with sliding animation, with available synchronization on all devices.

Set clear daily goals and prioritize

It goes along with your to-do list, but here you’ll be focused on exactly what you hope to accomplish by the time you leave the store or turn off your computer. Saying “clean out the store” is not as effective as saying “organize the inventory in the utility room according to purchase date”, for example.

You can clearly define your daily goals by prioritizing the most important ones. Use the ABCDE method as introduced Thor Refsland time management chef:

A: The tasks you must complete have serious consequences if they are not completed

B: Tasks you must complete – mild consequences if not completed

C: Tasks you could complete – no consequences if they are not completed

D: Tasks you delegate

E: Tasks you never complete

According to Refsland, you always do A before you do B, and you never do C before you do all of B. Then apply the 80/20 rule to determine each day; which 20% of the tasks on your to-do list will get you 80% of the results. Once you have an idea of ​​everything that needs to be done, decide how much time you need and work towards that goal.

Know your store’s peak times and schedules accordingly

When does your store get the most traffic? Are there hours when things are quieter that will allow you to work on more challenging tasks? You can easily find out these things using foot traffic programs such as visitor counters or estimates from your POS system where you can run hourly sales reports so you can see when you make the most sales.

This advice also applies not only to daily tasks, but also to seasonal ones. You wouldn’t want to schedule big tasks like inventory counts for December, since you do most of your sales around the holidays. Identifying peak times will give you a better idea of ​​when you can complete tasks.

Train your staff and delegate

As much as you’d like to think you’re superhuman, no one can run a successful retail operation on their own—nor should they try. The first step to getting more done is to surround yourself with well-trained staff who can help you accomplish these tasks. If you find yourself doing most of the work and putting out a few fires, it’s time to look at the training you provide for your employees.

To effectively delegate tasks to your employees and be a manager who increases their productivity, understand that your way is not the only way and that you don’t have to do it alone. Delegate the tasks that make the most sense to both you and your employees, so that everyone is using their strengths, and you’re not just offloading tasks at random. Sometimes it’s more important to delegate a certain task to someone else so that you can focus on the business instead of working in it.

Control your focus and concentration

emails. Texts. Customer inquiries. Questions of employees. Your phone and all the bells and whistles. There is no shortage of distractions that can take up your time during the day. Actually, at least 43 percent of consumers check their cell phones within five minutes of waking up, and another 17 percent check their phones immediately. But if your goal is to increase the quality of the time you have, you need to limit your focus to one task at a time.

That means managing distractions effectively, and that goes for your staff, too. Set rules for the whole time and set expectations to eliminate distractions. For example, set formal breaks and times to check email to encourage retail employees to control their attention and stay focused during work hours—and the same goes for you. It’s tempting to think you have to see everything right in the same second or respond immediately, but if you’re scattered, so is your productivity.

Use a time management system

Time management systems may sound intimidating, but they work because they help retail store owners consciously control how much time is spent on different tasks. Try one of the methods below for a good 60 days and see how it works for you and your employees. Keep exploring different options until you find an adequate solution.

Z Pomodoro technique, you break your work into short time intervals (called “pomodoros”), separated by short breaks when you’re faced with any big task. It trains your brain to focus for short periods of time and helps you stay on top of tasks.

The PASEK The method stands for “prioritizing through organizing, streamlining, saving and contributing” and can be defined as a way to break down your main goals into smaller tasks and smaller goals.

The The Eisenhower system will help you quickly identify the activities you should focus on and those you should ignore. Former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “I have two kinds of problems: urgent and important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.” Apply this to your list and see if your performance improves.

Here’s a cool video that gives an overview of this system:

Automate some operations

The modern world offers many ways to help you use your time more productively, if you use them correctly. One way to make things easier for yourself is to use tools that can automate and optimize your business.

Need someone to answer emails and set up meetings with suppliers? Hire a virtual assistant to take that job off your plate. Of course, not all business operations need to be automated, but there are plenty of apps that can help automate some of the tasks that take up your time during the work week.

Organize your store

Once you figure out the slowest time for your store, use that time to organize your space. Not only will it look more appealing to customers, but you won’t waste valuable time searching for items in a cluttered back room or directing customers to where they can find certain items.

Take some time to label all the drawers and shelves in the back room and look for ways to improve the arrangement of items to make sure everything is in the right place. For example, items that need to be replenished most often should be placed near the door so employees can quickly find them and restock.

Take some time to think

You might think you don’t have time to rest and regroup, but it’s one of the most important things you can do. First thing in the morning, take five minutes over a cup of coffee to think, “What is the most important thing for me to accomplish today?” and then add it to your list. Set your phone to beep throughout the day so that you stop and ask yourself, “Am I doing what I most need to do?” And at the end of the day, take five minutes and answer the question: “What did I learn? What do I want to do differently tomorrow?”

Build in unstructured time

As a retailer, you know that nothing goes exactly to schedule, that things will always come up, and that you can never rest. But when you are always busy and every minute of every day is laid out one by one, your cognitive ability declines, you become more error-prone and less insightful.

Although it may seem counterproductive, scheduling short breaks, such as a 15-minute break, is actually part of good time management. This gives you time to review your work and your goals. Start with one 15-minute break mid-morning and another in the afternoon. Even apply this same practice to shift planning, and you’ll be surprised how much more productive everyone is.

The result

As a busy retailer, you know that managing your time is key to success, but it has little to do with how many hours you work and more to do with how productive you and your staff are with those hours. The real purpose of time management in your retail business is to reduce the distractions and inefficiencies that limit the potential growth of your store and business as a whole. By using these proven methods, you are well on your way to success.

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