Retail managers – are you feeling the pressure?

If you’re a busy retail manager and your to-do list is growing faster than you can say ‘sales results’, then it’s time to take back control. You may be surprised to learn that when it comes to optimizing your performance, it’s usually not time management that’s the issue, but priority management.

To help you maximise your productivity, we’ve pulled together 10 top hacks – these are strategies and behaviours that along with key tools and apps, can help make your life easier.

What is your end goal?

To be successful, you need to be focusing on the most important things, so you need to know what your priorities are. Sounds simple in theory, but it can be easy to go off track – especially when you’re super busy. Write down a list of what your priorities are and refer to it regularly. Ensure you keep your list up to date and that it’s in line with the wider business goals.

 Where is your time currently being used?

The first step towards making positive changes is to monitor and analyse what you’re currently doing, so you can spot areas where improvements could be made. Put time tracking tools in place to help you, such as Rescue Time, Hubstaff or Toggl. Look at where you are spending your time and try to break it down into distinct categories. Then look for ways to improve what you’re doing.

Top 10 productivity hacks for retail managers

1.    Have a system

To stay organized, you need to have a tried and tested system in place, with processes that will help you streamline everything you’re doing. There are now loads of tools and apps on the market that can help you optimise your daily routines. For starters, take a look at Evernote, dubbed as a ‘second brain’ that can help you capture all your meeting notes and new ideas, and mindmapping app Mind42, which can help you easily record your ideas, brainstorms and to-do lists.

2.    Set time to focus

Schedule some uninterrupted time each week to work on only the things that really matter. Then be strict and stick to it! Don’t let other things creep in and dilute this time, unless it’s an absolute emergency. Switch off all distractions, including your phone, and close down your emails. If you fully focus in this way, you’ll be amazed at the difference it can make.

3.    Know your own productivity patterns

Everybody works better at different times and in different environments. You need to understand when your peak productivity times are and make sure your use that time to the full and for the most important tasks on your agenda. Understanding your own productivity patterns will enable you to get the most out of them and spot where you may be sabotaging your own success.

4.    Single-task not multi-task

All retail managers are responsible for juggling multiple balls but trying to multitask can be a false economy. It won’t save you time or make you more productive – in fact, it’s likely to do the opposite. Try to focus on one thing at a time. Even if you’re good at switching quickly between tasks, there will always be some time wasted in getting your brain fully in gear. You may also miss out on some golden ideas that only come with total focus. Try concentrating on one task fully and see how much more easily you sail through your to-do list.

5.    Learn to say no

This can be difficult at first, but many leaders cite this as being one of the key lessons they’ve learnt along the way. Without being able to say no, you are likely to end up having way too much on your plate and that gives you even less time to do the things that really matter. It again comes back to priorities. Where should your time be spent, to most effectively help you achieve your goals?

6.    Delegate

Closely tied to saying no, is knowing when to delegate and doing so effectively. Delegation relies on your ability to disseminate information and provide a clear brief. You need to set clear expectations for what needs to be done, by when, and what you are expecting the end result will look like. The benefit is that is will gives you some time back to spend on those things you really need to be concentrating on.

7.    Batch process tasks

It’s a fact – batch processing tasks increases efficiency. So, instead of jumping straight on every email or task the minute it lands on your desk, set a time to process them in one batch. For example, you may choose a certain time each day to sign off invoices, or look at shortlisted CVs. Email is another key area where this approach can really save you time.

8.    Get smart with emails

Always avoid using your inbox as a to-do list. You need to prioritise tasks – whether they arrive on email, as the result of a meeting, or via another route – then action them as appropriate. There’s a simple rule to follow: if you can deal with an email within 2 minutes, do it right away. If you can’t, then add it into your task management system, or delegate. Once you’ve gone through your inbox, look at your new list of to-dos and prioritise tasks. Then do the tasks in the order they should be done. Getting into this habit can transform how you’re working and how much you’re getting done – especially if it’s combined with batch processing your emails.

9.    Cut out distractions

The world will not end if you switch your notifications off. Honestly, it won’t. From new emails, to instant messages and social media notifications, these constant distractions just get in the way. So, just turn them off! Have your phone on silent when you’re working on important tasks and stay in control of how you are using and allocating your time. It’s one of the easiest steps you can take to up your productivity.

10.   Hit the ground running

One strategy many retail managers use is to make the most of the evening before they are back in work. If your working week runs Monday-Friday, then by getting up to speed on Sunday evening, you’ll already be in the zone when you start work. If you hit the ground running, you’ll be more productive from the word go. Just don’t get sucked into checking work emails all the time. With smart phones, it’s easy to be always be ‘logged in’. But to be productive you need a clear headspace and to give yourself chance to recharge. Mindfulness techniques are all the rage the right now, and for good reason.

Final top tip

Give yourself the best shot at making lasting improvements, by concentrating on implementing a few changes at a time. One of the most common traps you can fall into is to try and do too much too quickly.

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