Time is precious, particularly when it comes to running a small business. Yet there are never more than 24 hours in a day. Some entrepreneurs respond to this fact of life with focus and purpose. Others freak out. With the right approach, you can work efficiently, productively, and relatively stress-free.
Here are eight tips for effectively managing your time:
- PLAN AHEAD.
One of the worst things you can do is jump into the workday with no clear idea about what needs to get done. The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you’ll lose jumping from one thing to the next (and rarely completing anything).
- KNOW YOUR GOALS.
Engage in activities that support your business goals, both short- and long-term. Everything else is a potential time-waster. Your daily plan should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to generating income and growing your business.
- PRIORITIZE WISELY.
Organize your to-do list based on how important and urgent tasks are.
Important and urgent tasks must be done right away. Decide on when to do important but not urgent tasks and delegate the urgent but not important tasks: that make the most “noise,” but when accomplished, have little or no lasting value. Not urgent and not important tasks are low-priority stuff that offer the illusion of “being busy.” Do them later.
- JUST SAY NO.
If you have to decline a request in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent, do not hesitate to do so. The same goes for any projects or activities that you’ve discovered are headed nowhere: Be prepared to move on to more productive tasks.
- ELIMINATE DISTRACTIONS.
Pay attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Track self-induced interruptions, too, particularly those of the social media variety. Your smartphone is extremely useful, but it’s also addictive and among the most insidious time-wasters known to mankind.
Is there a more overused buzzword today? We all combine several activities into one all the time and lots of activities can be effectively and safely combined. Planning ahead helps here to be able to execute two or more tasks simultaneously.
- DELEGATE MORE OFTEN.
If you are equipped with talented, dedicated colleagues or subordinates, there’s always more work they can take off your desk. Running a successful small business depends upon the owner’s ability to think about what lies ahead and not get mired in day-to-day operations. Look for opportunities to pass responsibility for specific tasks to others on your team.
- DON’T BE A PERFECTIONIST
There’s nothing wrong with being ordinary. Perfectionism, otherwise known as paying excessive attention to every detail, important or not, is a kind of procrastination.
Set rational goals for yourself to avoid stress. It’s a fine thing to strive to be your best but it is counterproductive to try to be the very best.
- LET YOUR DEVICES HELP
Technology helped get you into the time bind in the first place, so use it to help get you out. Try some of the many personal scheduling software programs that allow you to keep a calendar, “to-do’ lists, and phone and address books on your computer.
It’s not enough to be efficient anymore. Use the technology to get rid of all the paper in your life. Much of organizing comes from streamlining your work life. The more clutter you have in your life — phone numbers on slips of paper, business cards in notebooks, a desk piled high with calendars and lists – the more likely you are to waste time trying to stay organized and on top of things.
- REWARD YOURSELF
Don’t let any progress, however small, go unrewarded. As you use your time diary/ to-do list to make decisions about how you want to organize your time better, progress in prioritizing and saying ‘no,’ let yourself enjoy that.
It doesn’t have to be a big reward, maybe it can be as simple as spending some time by yourself or getting a treat. It is important to acknowledge and enjoy your success.”