As a small business owner, you’re the most important person in your organization. Between meeting client’s deadlines, tracking finances and managing personnel, it can feel like your to-do list never shrinks.
Since time is a limited commodity, effective time management is one of the most essential skills for small business owners. While time management isn’t an exact science, you can create new habits that work best for you and your schedule.
We’ll explore eight time-management tips to help you boost productivity, make better decisions, and focus on your company’s growth and success.
If you feel like there are never enough hours in the day, these tips can help you better manage your time.
Clutter – both literal and figurative – can slow your progress. If your workspace or workload is chaotic, you may be too overwhelmed to tackle your tasks effectively.
Follow these recommendations to get organized:
If you have a smartphone, turn it into your ultimate small business tool with apps designed to help you take charge of your schedule and workflow.
Here are some excellent time- and task-management apps:
When you’re starting out, it’s natural to take on anything and everything to do with your business. You’re likely accustomed to learning on the job and have picked up marketing skills, accounting skills and other abilities required to run your organization.
However, as your time becomes more precious, delegating becomes crucial. Learn to outsource some tasks or assign projects to employees, giving yourself the freedom to take growth opportunities.
First, decide what tasks you’d like to offload. Pinpoint tasks you typically procrastinate on to determine who could better handle the job. If you don’t have a staff ready to pitch in, find independent contractors or freelancers specializing in that area who can work on an as-needed basis.
Reach out to your professional network and get referrals to find trustworthy people who can do the job. A delegated task is only successful if it gets done properly, so hire carefully and enforce deadlines.
Handling finances can take a great deal of time and cause massive stress. Implementing an accounting system early on will help you stay organized, which will save you time later.
These are a few to consider:
If you’re a solopreneur, the biggest struggle you may face is staying productive without having others hold you accountable. As your own boss, you must work diligently to stay motivated and avoid distraction.
Follow these tips to minimize distractions:
It’s also crucial to keep business matters out of family time to ensure a positive work-life balance. Segmenting your day will help you manage your time and make the most out of each precious hour.
The 80/20 rule states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your effort – and vice versa. Identify the 20% of your tasks that result in the most “bang for the buck” and concentrate on them. Delegate or spend less time on the rest.
For instance, if you spend a large chunk of your time on the phone, ask people to email you rather than call.
Some customers or employees are high maintenance, taking up more than their share of time with complaints or drama. Consider letting these time-wasters go.
While multitasking may seem like a great way to get everything done, it’s ineffective because the brain takes a little while to refocus attention, making you less productive and more error-prone.
Concentrate on one thing at a time, and organize your day that way. For example, you could focus on answering emails first thing in the morning to get that out of the way, and select another block of time to return phone calls. Once finished with a task on your list, move on to the next one.
Working all the time can be physically and mentally unhealthy while negatively impacting your creativity and problem-solving skills. Many leaders say they get their biggest revelations while on a nature walk, in the shower or otherwise relaxing.
Downtime helps your subconscious sort through data and come up with creative solutions. It’s not only about taking a vacation, although that counts. Consider taking time to hang out with family and friends, find a hobby, do something active outside or read a book for fun.
Here are several key reasons why time management is crucial when you’re running a business:
Meredith Wood contributed to the writing and reporting of this article.