Running a small business isn’t easy. Between administration, managing employees, marketing, chasing leads, taking care of clients, managing your web presence, and the myriad other activities that are necessary for business owners, there’s hardly any time left to actually do what you started your business for.
As an entrepreneur, you may experience frequent interruptions or be pulled in different directions, demanding your time and attention. While you cannot eliminate interruptions, you can determine how much time you will spend on them and how much time you will spend on the ideas and actions that will lead to your business’s success.
We’ve prepared some tips for managing your time.
Plot where your time goes
Use a calendar to record time spent on conversations, projects and activities (work and non-work related) for a week. This will help you understand how much you can get done during the course of a day and where your time is going. You'll see how much time is actually spent producing results and how much time is wasted on unproductive thoughts, conversations and actions.
Use Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle
This principle helps you think about your priorities, and determine which of your activities are important and which are, essentially, distractions. List all of your tasks and activities, and put each into one of the following categories:
- Important and urgent
- Important but not urgent
- Not important but urgent
- Not important and not urgent
Then schedule tasks and activities based on their importance and urgency.
Take the first 30 minutes of every day to plan
Don't start your day until you complete your time plan. The most important time of your day is the time you schedule to schedule time.
Decide on the results you want to attain
Take five minutes before every meeting or task to define your goal. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. Also, take five minutes after each call and activity to determine whether your desired result was achieved. If not, decide how you can keep conversations focused.
Do not disturb and make appointments with yourself
Make sure the other people in your business know when you are busy. Put a sign on your door, disconnect the phone and silence your emails when you absolutely have to focus and get work done.
Practice not answering the phone just because it's ringing and e-mails just because they show up. Don't instantly give people your attention unless it's absolutely crucial. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls.
Schedule appointments with yourself and create time blocks for high-priority thoughts, conversations, and actions which will drive your business forward. Have the discipline to keep these appointments.
Block out unnecessary distractions and organise your space
Avoid social media as it tends to steal away your time and attention.
When physical space is organised, it leads to organised mental space and more efficient work. Keeping your desk free of trash and clutter also helps to maintain a balanced head-space, conducive to productivity.
Set realistic goals and remember to rest
Remember that it's impossible to get everything done. The best you can do is make sure your time is well-managed, so you can pack as much productivity into the time you have as possible.
Sometimes taking a break actually saves you time and results in greater productivity. Without taking a break you’re guaranteeing yourself exhaustion and ultimately diminished returns.
Multitasking might seem like a smart way to save time by cramming as much work as possible into a short amount of time, but it’s likely doing more harm than good. Focusing on one task at a time increases productivity and performance.
Conversely, trying to take care of a single task while you answer every new email, respond to every text, and micromanage every issue as it arises means you’re not giving any one thing the attention it deserves.
Hire people you can trust, and give them the work you don’t have time for or don’t know how to do. This will give you time to focus on the tasks you’re best at and the ones that mean the most to you.
While technology sometimes makes the modern business owner busier than ever, it also offers numerous opportunities to streamline and make things easier. With an infinite number of apps, programs, and online services available, there are ways to take difficult, time-consuming tasks and let the computer handle them for you.