7 Secrets for Managing Time as a Small Business Owner
It often feels like time is in short supply for small business owners. As you rush to complete projects, meet with clients, and manage the day-to-day operations of your business, it can seem like a never-ending stream of obligations that are impossible to get ahead of. Read on to learn the seven secrets for managing time.
If this sounds familiar, you probably already know that time is one of your most important assets and wish there was a way you could get more of it. While there may not be a way to add more time to your schedule, you can do things to manage your time better.
Commit to Having a Plan
If you want to use your time effectively, you need to have a plan. Small business owners have a lot of obligations, and if you are always moving from one thing to the next without a plan, there is no way you are using your time well or keeping clients happy.
When it comes to making a plan, the first thing you need to do is commit to making a schedule every day. Beyond making a daily schedule, you should also try to plan out your weeks and months as well as you can. This way, you won’t just be using the time for each day as efficiently as you can, you will also be able to look ahead to make plans for your time in the coming weeks and months.
You could also use different apps to help you plan and keep your schedule. With your schedule on your phone, it will always be handy for when you need to add something new, and it will always be there if you need a reminder of what comes next.
Audit Your Time
Our time is valuable, but few of us really know what we do with our time. Of course, you’ve been at work, but you probably don’t know how much time you spend on different tasks. To get a handle on time management and set your priorities, you need to see where your time is going.
One way to do this is to record your time manually, but there are time tracking apps that can make it easier. You can install these applications on your phone or computer, and they will keep track of your time for you. Some of them even have features that analyze the time logs to help you find areas where you may be wasting time or using your time inefficiently.
Learn Where to Focus Your Time
Setting priorities is one of the keys to most time management strategies. This makes sense because if you can’t determine which tasks are the most important or those that will have the biggest impact on reaching your goals, it will be hard to set a schedule that puts these tasks at the top of your list. If you are not prioritizing correctly, it will be very easy for critical tasks to slip through the cracks.
When setting priorities, there are two points to consider: importance and urgency. You also need to remember that importance and urgency are not the same. You might find that you have important tasks that may not be very urgent, and you may also find that there are urgent tasks that are not very important. When setting your priorities, start with tasks that are both urgent and important and then follow that with tasks that are important but not urgent. After that, you can set tasks that are urgent but of little importance as the lowest priority.
Put Similar Tasks Together
When you are making a list of all of your priorities and obligations, you will probably notice that some tasks are very similar. Along with that, you might also notice that you have a lot of tasks that need to be done from the same place. If you take tasks that are similar or ones that need to be done from the same place and put them together in a block on your schedule, it can be a good way to save time.
As an example, you could put responding to emails and returning phone calls all into one block of time. Instead of doing different types of paperwork at different times, you could schedule to do it all at the same time. If you need to make time to meet with different employees regularly, you could schedule all of these meetings to happen one right after the other.
Be Smart About Delegation
Your employees are there to help your company meet its goals. If you are going to prioritize your time well, you need to be able to pass some of the work off to your employees. With that being said, you want to be smart about the tasks you choose to delegate and the employees you choose to trust with those tasks.
The first point is that you should only delegate tasks that don’t require your attention. If something requires your attention, then it is not a task that can be handed off to another person. This is true, no matter how tedious or unpleasant the task is. Additionally, you shouldn’t keep a task on your schedule just because it is something you prefer to do yourself. If an employee can do it just as well, it is something that could be taken off your schedule.
Everyone Needs Priorities
Being able to delegate some of the work to your employees is great, but you also want them to know how to set priorities and know the secrets for managing time. These people work for you, and when they are at work, their time is also your time. If your employees do not manage their time well or are unable to set priorities the right way, the time you pay them for will be used inefficiently.
Set priorities for the whole company and make time management a part of the company culture. Teach employees and managers about the way you prioritize their work, so they know what you expect and what you see as the most important items on their schedules. You don’t want to be overbearing or micromanage your employees, but you can’t blame employees for not meeting standards if you don’t set clear expectations.
Don’t Let Time Management Take Over Your Life
Managing your time is important, but you shouldn’t let it take over your life. You need to be able to set priorities and keep a schedule, but you shouldn’t stress about every minute of every day. If you let things go too far, time management will become a burden instead of being a tool you use to get the most from each day.
On a related point, you can’t forget about maintaining a work-life balance. You have to set aside time for yourself and your family. If you are dedicating every moment to your work schedule, you will get burned out, and that won’t be good for your business. Unstructured time away from your office will help you relieve stress, and when you come back, you will feel reinvigorated and ready to jump back into your schedule.
With these secrets for managing time, you should know how to set and manage priorities at your small business. However, there is no perfect time management system that will work well for everyone. Once you know how to set priorities and manage a schedule, use the time management tips and strategies that work well for you as an individual.