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With the myriad of activities you need to handle as a small business manager, you may not have time left to do what’s most important to run your business effectively.
With better time management and systematic prioritization of tasks, you can reduce distractions, accomplish your goals and earn more money. Here are some time management tips that will help you to succeed.
1. Create a time management plan.
Benjamin Franklin once said:
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
The first step towards better time management is having a plan. A good plan must be in writing and prioritize daily, weekly and monthly tasks for achieving your goals.
Here are the key elements of a time management plan:
- Define your weekly, monthly, and annual goals clearly and write them down.
- Make a detailed list of tasks that need to be done to accomplish the goals.
- Prioritize tasks in terms of importance and urgency.
- Include ongoing business functions such as returning emails and paying bills.
- Build in some flexibility—some time is needed to handle unexpected issues.
2. Prioritize according to importance and urgency.
Many methods are used to prioritize tasks, such as the Pareto principle, or the 80/20 rule, which favors increasing the amount of time you spend on the most critical tasks that generate the biggest returns for your business. It’s based on the idea that 20 percent of your efforts give 80 percent of your results.
Organizing similar tasks or focusing on one specific task for 25 minutes, taking a five-minute break and then focusing on the next one (Pomodoro technique) are some other methods.
The Eisenhower method came from what President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:
“What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Tasks are categorized as important, not important, urgent, and not urgent. Important and urgent tasks need to be done first, followed by important but not urgent tasks, then urgent but not important tasks, and finally, tasks that are neither urgent nor important.
3. Delegate responsibly.
Small business owners often find it difficult to delegate, believing they are the only ones that can do what needs to be done. Delegating is essential if you want to get more accomplished, as well as in reducing your stress and increasing business success.
Identify the tasks only you can do on your time management plan. Then identify the tasks that others are able to complete without any help from you—or with only a little help from you—freeing time for you to handle those only you can do.
Don’t ever delegate responsibilities without preparing and training your employees to handle tasks. Part of this comes in making sure that you hire the right employees in the first place.
Richard Baring, a writer who provides cheap custom essay writing services, says, “You only delegate successfully if the task actually gets done. To make sure it gets done you need to hire the right people and train them well.”
4. Minimize distractions.
The more you can concentrate on your tasks, the faster you’ll complete them. One of the main sources of distraction is when others start interrupting you—whether it’s an employee asking a question, someone coming in for a visit without a prior appointment, an unsolicited telephone call, or it can even be a scheduled meeting.
Try restricting access to your office when dealing with important tasks by locking your door for a period every day. If you can identify a pattern of interruptions, you can schedule time for them in your time management plan.
5. Identify and eliminate time-wasters.
Henry David Thoreau said, “It’s not enough to be busy… the question is what are we busy about?” Try tracking your time from the beginning of your day to the end, listing each task you manage to complete, and the time it takes you. When you do this, it’s easy to identify your time-wasters.
Categorize your tasks into areas such as emails, phone calls, errands, meetings, etc. The goal of the exercise is to find out areas where you may be wasting time. For example, if you find you’re spending too much time answering emails, you can set a cap on the time you spend on this task every day.
6. Automate where possible.
Automation offers many opportunities to streamline your time management efforts. Difficult, time-consuming tasks can be accomplished with ease when using a multitude of apps, programs, and online services.
Time tracking software like Hubstaff and Harvest can record time spent on projects and make management and invoicing easier. When it comes to overall workflow, Trello is a tool that organizes projects into boards in a visual way.
7. Try to achieve balance.
Many managers who battle with time management complain about a lack of balance. They tend to focus too much on one area at the expense of others. The best CEOs have excellent time management skills. That’s the key to success.
Networking, actively managing employees, and dealing with problems, are all important, but with so many balls in the air, when you focus on one, the others tend to fall to the ground. To prevent this from happening, it’s useful to group tasks into different categories and try to find a balance between them.
8. Multitasking can be counterproductive.
If you try to cram as much as you can into the shortest amount of time possible, you don’t necessarily increase your productivity or performance. If you’re trying to answer emails, respond to texts, micromanage issues as they arise, and plan at the same time, you won’t give any task the attention it deserves.
You have to keep shifting mental gears, and you’re more than likely to have to go back and correct errors later. Rather, do one thing at a time and do it properly. Mozart said:
“The shorter way to do many things is to only do one thing at a time.”
9. Organize your space.
When your office is cluttered, you tend to be less efficient, and if you appear disorganized, it’s not good for the morale of your employees. When you’re physically organized, you tend to be more mentally organized. This is another opportunity to use apps and other tools to stay organized so you can find what you need when you need it.
For example, you can use a to-do list app, such as Todoist, Google Keep, or Any.do. The Wunderlist app helps you to manage tasks from your phone, set reminders, and share your lists with others.
10. Include rest time.
Some small business owners are so concerned about what has to be achieved that they feel guilty if they take a break. It’s well-known that taking a break can actually save you time because it results in greater productivity in the long run.
Your mind and your body need time to rest. When you don’t rest, mental exhaustion and burnout cause diminishing returns.
Time is the most precious resource when it comes to small business management. If you find yourself feeling exhausted before your day even begins, it’s a sign that your time management may need attention. If you use every hour efficiently, you’ll be more successful. The good news is that you can learn to manage time effectively by using these powerful tips.