Got a case of small business overwhelm? Try these time management strategies
As hard as it is for us small business owners to accept, we all have 24-hours in a day. Ever feel like your ‘to-do’ list gets longer as the day goes on or that you’re trapped in a constant battle against time as soon as your work day begins? Sadly, it’s often our personal life that takes a hit when our work-life balance is off.
Having run this business for over fourteen years now, we totally understand. We’ve been there. Unfortunately, maintaining a crazy work schedule and burning the candle at both ends can’t last. We’re all human and we need our downtime. Some of the brightest business minds are huge advocates for scheduling ‘do nothing time’ into their work schedules in which they think, reflect and so on.
Sound good to you? Well applying these incredibly effective and easy time management tips and tools is a great place to start.
Track your time
A quick look at your Facebook feed here, a glance at your emails there… we’re all guilty of finding time is gobbled up by largely unproductive activities.
Start recording everything you do each day and how long each task takes you. Use whatever method you’re comfortable with: a weekly time sheet, an Excel spreadsheet… whatever works for you. Why?
Remember that trusty old saying: “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Say goodbye to time wasting tasks
Once you start looking into this, we can almost guarantee that your list will continue to grow over time. Eliminating tasks that are notorious for wasting time is equally as important for your staff.Here are some tips to get your started:
Document any policies or procedures, manuals or forms tailored to monitor social media and general IT usage. Communicate this to your employees, include it in your Employee Agreement (if it isn’t already in there) and enforce it.
Block out 1 or 2 hour periods when you don’t check or respond to emails or take any calls. You can always ask your staff to field these messages for you.
Set an Agenda and allocate a certain amount of time for meetings. Keep a check on each throughout to ensure meetings aren’t going over-time unnecessarily.
Train your staff to detect and deflect time wasters. Sales people shouldn’t be able to walk into your office and see you. Ensure your staff know how you prefer to handle these kind of situations (perhaps book an appointment for you if you’re interested in a certain product/service).
Turn off instant messages/alerts of all kinds if you need to concentrate. There’s nothing more annoying than sounds flying from your phone thanks to social media message alerts/notifications if you’re working to a tight deadline.
Utilise to-do lists
Without a to-do list, you might just find yourself running around madly all day. You’re likely to hit 5pm and ask yourself: what have I even done today?Create a simple list that at a quick glance, tells you what you need to do and include a deadline. We prefer to rank tasks in order of priority and then tick them off as they’re completed but do whatever works for you.
You are not superhuman. We all know this but some of us just love pushing the boundaries.Delegating not only frees up your time, it allows your team members to grow and evolve. To get you going:
Look at your current ‘to do’ list and see what you can give to others. Tell your staff what you need, show them how to do it, communicate effectively and monitor these activities over time. That saves you tackling anything you can successfully delegate after hours.
After keeping track of where your time is going, if anything is taking up excessive amounts of your time, look into outsourcing it or passing it on. Bookkeeping is often one area that business owners can easily handover. A good bookkeeper is likely to spend less time on your books and they should be more thorough than you as it’s their expertise.
Invest in the tools you need
Efficiency and effectiveness – they’re two ‘e’ words that can make or break a small businesses. You and your staff need the right tools to perform at your best. Forget about splurging, look at what you need and consider how out-dated technology may be costing you dearly in the long-run. Conducting a quick cost-benefit analysis is likely to provide you with the answers you need pretty quickly.
Work when you work best
We’ve all read those articles about business owners who are bouncing up out of bed at 5am to hit the gym before tackling breakfast with a friend and heading off to their first meeting at 7:30am. If you’re not a morning person, this is probably sounding like a horror film right about now.
Nobody knows you better than you. Work when you know you’re running on full steam and plan your schedule around this. Plan to work on big projects when you’re in the zone and leave other tasks that require less thinking for when you’re winding down.
At the end of the day, your time is your most valuable asset. We hope these tips free you up to work on your business as opposed to in it.