When you are a small business owner, there are a lot of things you must do yourself. Depending on the size of your company, you often do not have the option of giving some of it to someone else. With good time management skills, you can accomplish much more during your busy day.
Take a Time Inventory
Before you can manage your time better, you will need a good understanding of how you are using your time now. Take a week and write down each hour what you did for the past hour. Be sure to include every coffee break, phone time, talking with managers, employees, meeting time, etc. The more you can jot down and the amount of time you spent doing a particular task – the better.
Evaluate Your Time
After a week of developing a carefully written record of time spent at work, sit down and honestly evaluate it. Look for periods of time wasted (looking at emails, surfing the Internet, coffee breaks, daydreaming), time spent performing tasks you could have given to someone else, time in meetings or calls that were unnecessary, and time spent in activities that are not going to grow your business.
Determine Your Priorities
As a small business owner, you need to look at your business and determine how you can best use your skills to grow the business. The Pareto principle, also called the 80/20 rule, applies here. The rule states that about 80 percent of your profit comes from 20 percent of your work. For better time management, you want to find out what that 20 percent is and focus most of your energy and time doing that.
Instead of just dealing with work issues as they come up, set some goals of things that you want to accomplish this week. Goal-setting will help you use your time more efficiently and enable you to see things achieved that are most important. Set both long-term goals and short-term goals. The long-term goals will guide your overall planning and the short-term goals will include small daily, weekly, or monthly goals to help you achieve the long-term goals.
Daily goal setting should only include three or four goals that are attainable each day. More than this and you might find it discouraging because you may not be able to fulfill them all. One simple way to help with this is to sit down the night before and jot down your three goals for the next day, and then prioritize them. This way, you do not need to waste valuable morning time to decide what you should do and you will see things accomplished that are more important to your business.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Studies show that most people cannot effectively multitask. You can focus better on one thing when you are not disrupted by emails, phone calls, and other interruptions. Try to limit them as much as possible. One thing that may help is to use time-blocking for your project time management. Set aside 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour, etc., to give your full attention to a single task – ignore everything else. Let your secretary or managers handle it. Use a timer to mark the time, and then take a 5-minute break before starting the next block of time.
Once you can follow these time management tips as a small business owner, you will want to help your managers and employees do the same. Find ways to eliminate processes in your business that are time-wasters and often unnecessary. This will enable you to develop the most profitable business that you can be glad to own.