Gillian Franklin

Gillian Franklin

Thursday, 17 January 2013 00:00

How can I cut down my workload?

This article first appeared December 22, 2011.


I’ve just started up and seem to be working all waking hours (and some sleeping ones too). It’s getting ridiculous and I wondered if there are ways that I can cut down my workload.


I seem to spend half my time negotiating with suppliers or in client meetings that seem to drag out forever. I’m scared to scale this back, though, in case my business suffers.


What can I do?


There are a few options for you to consider:


Time management


Time management is a skill that is necessary to develop in any business, especially one with limited resources.


I would suggest that you review what you are spending your time on and what “outputs” you achieve with your time.


By this I mean, for each section of your day, at the end of a meeting or discussion or even work you have done by yourself, give yourself a scorecard of the quality of the output.


You can break this into a few categories and the following list may be helpful:

  • Essential for the survival of my business (important)
  • Essential for the future growth of my business (important)
  • Solving a problem today (urgent)
  • Okay, but neither urgent nor important
  • A waste of time

Even if you “marked” yourself for a week, you may find it useful in determining how and where you are spending your time.


I would be surprised if you don’t find a number of items in the four and five group.


Then the challenge will be to ensure that you don’t participate in these activities in the future.




Focus is another important attribute required in business. At the commencement of each meeting, I ask everyone to articulate what the purpose of the meeting is and what outcome we expect, ie. (a) purpose – to review the latest promotion and (b) outcome – to decide on whether we will run this promotion next month again.


Then any discussion that goes off this path can be quickly stopped and the conversation brought back to the key points.


This requires collaboration and discipline but is probably the major area where you can cut back on wasteful time.




Productivity is another area you can develop. In addition to managing your time so you ensure it is spent on important and urgent tasks, do the work as quickly as possible.


Don’t handle a piece of paper more than twice if possible (don’t shuffle from one in tray to another), make informed but quick decisions, spend time efficiently by multi-tasking as often as possible (do lists in the car when traffic is slow), return all your phone calls while driving.


Invest in your knowledge of technology, use soft copy folders for quick access to documents and use an iPhone or Android smartphone so you can quickly do emails anywhere and everywhere.

Gillian Franklin is recognised as one of Australia's most innovative marketers, with a passion and commitment to supporting women in business. She is managing director of her own company, The Heat Group – one of Australia's leading personal care companies. Gillian has grown the business from five employees working out of a coffee shop to a thriving company with more than 90 staff. Prior to this, Gillian was the youngest ever GM at Revlon at the age of 25. She was inducted into the Australian Business Women's Hall of Fame in 1998. 


Ask Gillian or any other StartupSmart mentor a question here.

Comments (3)

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Hi Gillian,

Thanks for your insightful comments on "time management". The other suggestion I'd have (because sometimes everything falls into the no. 1 & 2 on your list) is to outsource.

If you use a website like or the cost of outsourcing is dramatically reduced. Yes, I realise the dollars are going OS, but hey we operate in a global village don't we?

Cheers, David
[email protected] , April 21, 2011
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Dealing with suppliers and negotiating with clients can be quite time consuming however I would not be short-cutting this process too much. Develop some efficiencies... yes. Go into each meeting/negotiation with a very clear understanding of what it is you want or need to get out of it. Having an understanding of what the other parties objections or concerns might be will be a big advantage also. This will not only produce desired outcomes but will reduce meeting/negotiating times dramatically.

Knowing what is important or urgent as opposed to 'a waste of time' is very difficult for someone who is poorly organised to start with. Proper time management can only begin by... Firstly defining business goals. Secondly, developing operational strategies aligned with your goals. Thirdly, outline specific tasks which will lead to your strategic outcomes. Lastly, manage how you and your employees send time on these tasks by properly allocating resources and prioritising these tasks. There are many methods. You just need to find one that suits your situation.

Quite often I have found poor time management comes down to individuals bad habits, procrastination or poor workplace culture. If you really want to manage your time and the time of your employes more efficiently, identify where the problems lay and work hard to change or eliminate bad practices.

David... Try
Zmithy , December 25, 2011
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David: With the high Aussie dollar, the big new carbon tax and Gillard's "unilateral war on pollution," and the woeful excuse for a Government, there's never been a better time to outsource. Australia does have a comparative advantage at some things, like selling minerals to China (at least until Labor's boneheaded big new tax on mining comes in), but for other things like labour, with the joke that is FairWork, there's no comparative advantage.

So why should you, as a small business owner, pay the cost of socialist Big Government policy from Labor? As a boss, you create the jobs, not the Government!

Outsource away. Because Australia's ultimate business inefficiency is letting a Labor Government run by union thugs run the country!
aussielibertarian , December 28, 2011
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