Small businesses are unique and require rigid time management. However, everyone knows this is not easy to do; time suddenly disappears, and you are unable to get done even half of what you were planning. There are many time management techniques specifically for small businesses that can help you manage your time. Since it all revolves around you, and not some big corporate machine, you need all the help you can get. The most important thing is to try some tips and figure out what works best for you. There are many resources out there full of tips and advice to help small business owners manage their time. Read further to learn more.
Here are ten essential time management tips for small businesses:
There is a consensus that taking a week to record your thoughts and activities throughout your day and the time it took you to complete your tasks is the first big step. With this journal, written on actual paper, you can reflect back on how you actually spent your time. To see where you have been focusing will give you some perspective on how to move forward. Ask yourself, “Did I spend my time wisely? Is there a better way I should be spending my time? Can I plan better?” This is a great first step to effective small business time management.
Perhaps the term “multitasking” should actually be removed from your vocabulary. Studies have shown that you will accomplish more by focusing on one task at a time rather than spreading yourself thin. Plan a specific time to accomplish each task. It also feels so much nicer when you can actually check an item off your to-do list, rather than fifty percent of one, ten percent of another, and no time left for anything else!
Organize, organize, and organize! There are many systems out there that will help you stay organized. This is vital so that you do not waste time just looking for what you need to complete a task. Buy labels and folders. As things come to you, organize them right away, because if you put it on it may never get done. The few seconds it takes to organize a document or anything else when you first receive it is nothing compared to having to organize dozens upon dozens of documents later on, which will take much more time! As recommended in the Credit Repair Summit Series e-book on time management authored by credit repair business training expert Joel Pate, find a system that works for you, and stick with it!
Delegate time for each task you need to complete, with built in time for interruptions (have “office hours”) and do not forget to plan time to eat! An empty stomach leads to an empty mind.
Do not only delegate your time but delegate tasks and activities as well. As much as you want to run your small business machine to the perfection you have set up in your mind, completing everything yourself is just not possible. This is why you have hired staff. Allow your staff to take on tasks they can handle. Then have them check in with you at a specified time. This will relieve you of some stress, and open more time to tasks high on your priority list.
Prioritize! Take thirty minutes at the beginning of your day to plan not only what you need to accomplish that day, but their order of importance. Expert Mr. Pate also implores you to know the difference between “low payoff” and “high payoff” activities. This looks at the result of the task rather than the time it takes to complete it.
A great time management tip to try that many small business owners do not think to do is to have someone to be accountable to. When we have someone we have to report back to, someone that expects us to get our jobs done, we work harder and more efficiently. Find someone who can do this for you and encourage you as well. Have them ask you at the end of the day what you have accomplished.
Know when you need to work with others and when you need to work alone. This can make a significant difference in your daily time management. Sometimes you just need to shut the door and be left alone to complete your work. There is nothing wrong with that. Schedule time in for this, close the door, put up a ‘do not disturb’ sign. In the end, this will benefit not only your time but your employees’ time as well. When you show you are getting your work done, they will too!
Another common tip that any small business owner can benefit from is to practice not answering the phone or responding to emails right away. If you are in the middle of a “high priority” task, then someone can leave a message and you can call them back. Set up a time in your day specifically to return phone calls and emails. You also might want to disconnect from social media if it is not a vital aspect of your business. You can also check social media at a specific time of the day.
Know yourself. There is nothing more productive than someone who is in tune with how they work. Mr. Pate, also advises you to consider how well you work at different times of the day as an example of how to use knowledge of yourself to manage your time. Create your schedule according to this knowledge. Perhaps you tend to get tired around three in the afternoon, as many do. Schedule in a short walk to revive your senses or plan for a snack. These short breaks will help bring you back to life, ready to conquer your next task!
As a small business owner, these time management techniques can help you discover that time is on your side. Try some of the tips to figure out what works for you. You can create a system where you can accomplish your priorities, and you’ll soon see results. Although no one can always get everything done, these tips will help you become the most efficient you can be.