Time management tips for small business owners
It’s true: running your own small business has a world of advantages. As your own boss, you can choose your own hours and follow your passion.
On the flipside, small business owners must wear lots of hats. Jumping from CEO to sales manager to accountant all in a single day can be tiring, and you might notice your work-life balance beginning to slip.
In the worst-case scenario, it might even start to affect your business performance. Have no fear and resist the urge to start frantically applying for jobs.
It is never too late to get your time management in check. By using these helpful time management tips, you will be on your way to a smooth-running business and a healthy work-life balance before you know it.
As you will likely know from the countless inspirational quotes the internet has to offer, preparation is the key to success. By looking at the bigger picture of what you want to achieve with your business, you will get a clearer idea of the daily tasks you should be focusing your energy on. There is no use spending all week designing business cards if you are aiming for billboards.
Planning and preparation are not only applicable for your overall business plan, but the smaller daily tasks too. A survey by Brian Tracy showed planning for just 10-12 minutes can save you up to two hours of time in the long run.
For instance, instead of reading the emails in your inbox from top to bottom, sort them into subfolders and prioritise by topic or sender. As you categorise your workload, you may come to realise exactly where you need to spend your time.
Group similar tasks
Once you have your to-do list categorised and prioritised, it is time to start tackling the activities on it. By grouping similar tasks together, you will notice how much quicker you complete a bulk of jobs.
For example, if you have invoicing, expenses, and data entry on your list, try grouping them together into a weekly ‘admin afternoon’. If you could do with updating your website, writing a blog post, and staying active on social media, allocate a monthly ‘marketing morning’.
Similarly, if you have lots of work for a specific client, it might be best to group it together so that you don’t have to switch your mindset as much. Let’s say you write technical reports for multiple businesses. If you have more than one task for a single business, do them back to back so you spend less time having to think about what style or level of language to use.
The average employee spends two hours per day recovering from distractions. And if you are working from home, it can be even more difficult to stay on track with your time management. But it is not impossible. With distractions like children, household chores, deliveries, or even dogs, it can be challenging to get everything on your to-do list done before the end of the day.
Let’s face it, when you work from home, your workday never goes to plan. Instead of letting the work mount up, try to account for these distractions in your preparation. By using a daily planner, you can plan your day from start to finish, including the distractions.
For many of us, our mobile phones are the biggest distraction to our working day. We now live in a world where telephones are an extension of our arms, or at least placed in a convenient nearby location. If your friends and family are the type to expect an instant response to messages throughout the day, let them know you are catching up with work before switching your phone to flight mode.
Sometimes, all it takes is a notification-free afternoon to get a great deal of work off your desk. And those messages will still be there when you are ready to jump back to your social life.
The art of delegation
You have a team at your disposal, so why not ensure you are making the best use out of them? A 2007 survey found that 46% of companies were concerned about workers’ delegation skills. As the owner of a small business, it can be tempting to take on all the big tasks yourself, especially if you are passionate about the quality of your output.
By resisting that temptation and asking your team members to support you with some of the more important tasks, you free up your time while also developing an employee.
Even if you don’t have a regular team, you could consider working with another freelancer to take one or two tasks off your hands. If you aren’t sure they can do the job to the required level of quality, allocate a short amount of time to look over their work and make any corrections you think are necessary. In addition, by going through the changes you make to your associate’s work, they might do a better job in future.
Time management is a common challenge among businesses large and small. This also means there is a world of software solutions available to help you get your time management up to scratch. If your efficiency is starting to drop and you can sense it affecting your business performance, it may be worth looking into how a software application might be the answer you are looking for.
For example, if you are having a hard time juggling your own work with scheduling your team members’ shifts, consider purchasing a shift scheduling tool to take the weight off your shoulders. By allowing employees to swap shifts and request holidays via an online portal or mobile app, you also minimise the distractions you would face with staff coming to ask you about their upcoming shifts.
Software applications for project management, password protection, cloud storage and task reminders are also available to help you in your journey to making more efficient use of your time. Many of these applications are free to use, with paid for versions offered for premium features. Pick out the ones suitable for your needs, and make sure you utilise them on a daily basis.
Be your own boss
When people think of being self-employed, they think of being your own boss as an easy ride, with no one there to tell you what to do and when to do it. Instead, be as strict with yourself as a real boss would be. Don’t think of it as not having a boss—take this challenge on and push yourself to your limits. By being stern with yourself, you open up avenues to develop as a person and grow your small business.
Running a business, no matter the size, is a challenge, so make sure you have the time management skills equipped and ready to use when you have busier periods. Make sure you plan your days, group your tasks, limit distractions, delegate where possible and ensure you are making use of the software available to you. And who knows? You may even find enough time in your day to put your feet up and relax.