Being a small business owner can be very demanding, and most entrepreneurs know that running a small business can be a juggling act, often spreading themselves thin performing many different jobs during the course of a single day. With the primary responsibility for the success of their business resting on their shoulders, they know that better time management is key.
Poor time management can be costly for you and your business. By adopting a more efficient approach to how you manage your time, you will be able to make the best use of the limited time available to you and maximize how much you can get done each working day. which can translate into. Keep in mind however, that time management skills are not the same for everyone, that why you have to find what works best for you.
Benefits of Time Management
Not only does effective time management allow you to be more organized and focused on key tasks; it also results in less stress by giving you a sense of achievement and piece of mind. In addition, the effective management of your time can lead to improved communication not only with your customers and partners, but also with your employees when it comes to giving assistance, support, motivation, and direction.
Let’s look at a few common advantages that you can attain with effective time management:
- Maximize what can be accomplished in a work day
- Identify and deal with time-wasters
- Maximize the use of your resources
- Break indecision and procrastination habits
- Better planning and forecasting
- Track progress toward your goals
On a more personal level, being better at managing your time can drastically improve the quality of your life by allowing you to have more time for family, friends, and other interests.
So with that in mind, here are 5 tips on how to be a better time manager:
1. Clearly define your goals
The ability to set goals is at the very core of personal productivity since it provides direction. By setting clear objectives, you will become better at managing your time by knowing where the bulk of your time each day should be focused. That way you are better able to prioritize your workload based on your goals and those of your business.
You should even go one step further and set S.M.A.R.T goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound), that way you will be able to properly track your progress in meeting your objectives:
- Specific: Describe your objectives specific to the results you want so you can easily measure your performance (e.g. send 5 business proposals today).
- Measurable: Your activity should be measurable to see if you are making progress toward a goal. This will help you stay on track and will result in you staying motivated.
- Attainable: Make sure you set goals that you feel you have a reasonable chance to achieve. Don’t assign yourself more tasks than you could reasonably be expected to successfully complete.
- Realistic: Make sure your resources allow you to meet your objectives (i.e. time, money, staff) and take into account professional and personal factors that may influence your ability to reach it.
- Time-based: incorporate a specific time frame when setting your goals. Set yourself deadlines and stay committed to meeting them. This will give you motivation to meet the goal within a certain time-frame.
Implementing this goal-setting strategy into how you manage your time will without a doubt make you more efficient since you will know what you want to do before you even start your day.
2. Avoid Multi-tasking
You might think you’re good at multitasking, and you probably are, always trying to save time by doing multiple things at once. But the reality is that by juggling several tasks at once you are actually wasting valuable time. And while it may seem that multitasking is a great way to boost efficiency, numerous time management experts have become quite critical of it. In fact, research has shown that constantly jumping between tasks not only leads to reduced performance, but also slows down progress because mentally, switching between two or more tasks takes more time.
If you manage your multitasking, you’ll be much more effective than if you simply hop from project to project without driving them to completion.
Let’s say you are taking a business call, while also working on finalizing a proposal for one of your clients. By trying to do these two things simultaneously, you won’t be able to totally focus on either one, potentially leading you to miss something critical regarding one or both of these tasks.
Here are five tips to stop multitasking (or at least remove that temptation):
- Do one thing at a time: you’ll actually get more things done by doing them individually.
- Schedule time for individual tasks: Allocate time in your calendar to work on one task at a time.
- Limit distractions: Take yourself away from distractions such as telephones and emails. Avoid constantly monitoring your email inbox.
- Group similar tasks: Try to group tasks which can be worked on concurrently together.
- Reduce clutter: Stay focused on the task at hand by removing items for others tasks from your desk.
In addition, you ability to prioritize should minimize the need to multitask.
3. Learn to Prioritize
As a business owner, many important things will compete for attention. but as you probably know, there are not enough hours in a day to give attention to everything, and you sometimes find that relatively unimportant tasks or commitments can easily take up much of your time.
What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.Dwight D. Eisenhower
Learning how to prioritize your workload for optimal time management can help you get use your time more efficiently by making sure you accomplish the most important tasks first and weed out the work that does not contribute to the success of your business. To help you get started, here are the 3 steps you need to follow on a regular basis:
- Determine value: Identify how each of your tasks and commitments impact your business, doing this will help you recognize which tasks carry the highest value to your company. You can start by asking yourself: if you could only do one thing on that list today, what would it be?
- Write it all down: Put your organizational skills to work and draft a list of the tasks you want to accomplish in any given day or week. Lists are an important first step in improving time management by giving you a clear set of priorities.
- Create a ranking: In order to know which tasks you need to work on first, you need to prioritize them in order of importance. This helps you determine the top priority tasks that needed to be tackled first so you plan your schedule accordingly.
By following this method, you will get an excellent overview of all your tasks, their importance and urgency. This way you will focus mainly on your tasks and duties with the highest priority before you turn to tasks with lower priority; enabling you to be more productive.
4. Embrace new Technology
As you read this article, you are either using a computer, smartphone or tablet. But have you thought about how the very tool you are using right now can be an effective tool in making the most out of your time?
By giving you the ability to seamlessly share information with clients, employees and business partners, Technology can be a powerful time management tool by boosting your productivity and helping you get things done.
- Online calendar: With free online tools like Google Calendar and Zoho Calendar, you can check your availability and manage appointments no matter where you are. No need for that good-ol’ pen-and-paper day planner anymore to stay on top of important dates.
- Cloud storage: With services like Google Drive, Dropbox or Onedrive, you now have the possibility to store documents and files online so you can access conveniently from any PC, Mac or phone that has an internet connection. This can make you move productive by allowing you to work at times and locations that weren’t previously possible.
- Note-taking: Free tools like Evernote, Fetchnotes and Kustomnote allow you to create and access notes on the go. You can use it for number of interesting and different things like storing your notes, lists, photos and even client business cards so you can retrieve them on any device.
Like many other recent technological innovations, online productivity solutions create unprecedented conveniences for everyone. It is up to you to leverage these tools to manage your time more efficiently and make them part of your everyday life.
5. Delegate Tasks
As a small business owner, you may think that you need to do everything yourself, especially some of the more basic day-to-day operational tasks. But while it’s perfectly understandable that you may want to be to involved in every aspect of running your businss, doing so may not be the best use of your time, especially if you have employees that can delegate some of the tasks to.
Growing your business should be the primary focus of every small business owners. If you want to use your time efficiently, you need to look for opportunities to pass responsibility for specific tasks so you can avoid being mired in day-to-day operations. Some common examples of tasks that you can delegate:
- Social Media Marketing: Management of your social media pages.
- Customer Service: Handling customer issues and complaints, responding to product and service inquiries.
- Administrative tasks: Tracking customer payments, filing tax returns, and ordering supplies.
- Bookkeeping: Invoicing, maintaining and/or analyzing your business’s financial records.
- Market research: Doing basic research about your competitors and your customers.
- Data entry: Entering customer information into your CRM.
By delegating some of the tasks above, you will be able to work on the bigger picture for your business, like finding new ways to penetrate new markets, innovate and one-up your competition.