Regardless of which small business owner I speak to, they all are busy juggling a long list of tasks that doesn’t seem to have an end coming any time soon. In any given day, they are fighting to meet deadlines, managing administrative work, and trying to stay on top of their next sales source. Needless to say, even for the most organized, effective time management sometimes seems impossible.
If this sounds like you, and you think that you are always struggling to manage your time and tasks in your small business, we'd like to share some tips and tricks that may help.
Know the importance of time logging
Get a clear understanding of where your time runs away to in a normal day. Simply begin with how you start your day and note each and everything you do until you go to bed. This does not need to be fancy and can be done on a simple piece of paper or in a spreadsheet. We use these with some of our clients, so contact us if you’d like a template to use. The goal is to keep an eye of what you have been doing throughout the day and how much time you have spent on that particular task. You should try to follow what you have been doing throughout your normal daily routine. Changing your routine on the day you track your time won't provide you with a clear snapshot.
Identify the tasks that waste your time
Once you see where your time goes in print, you should be able to easily identify the tasks that have been wasting your time until now. Divide all the tasks that you have been doing throughout the day into different categories and sum up the time. Some quick calculations will help you to determine the percentage time that you have been spending on each task. The output of this activity is to determine the tasks that take most of your time. Some of the potential categories can be meetings, phone calls, non-productive tasks, breaks, and emails. Be honest when you do this. If you logged on to Facebook to check your business page, but ended up spending twenty minutes looking at someone's vacation pictures, log it.
Multi-tasking is one of the major problems that affect most small business owners. They poke their heads into different activities at the same time and it is often difficult to manage everything. Although we can not deny the fact that multitasking would help you to complete most of the work in a short duration, this practice will create more problems in the long run. You can improve your performance and productivity by focusing on a single task at a time. It is crucial for the small business owners to devote their attention and time to a single task, otherwise, you may find yourself going back to each individual task to fix the errors.
Delegate your tasks
One of the major problems that consume most of your attention and time is to do everything by yourself. Many people are not aware of the fact that the habit of working on all the tasks could potentially do more harm than good. You can’t be good at everything, so consider hiring or outsourcing some of this work to one of the thousands of professionals out there who will help you to do the task in a better way. In most cases, a hiring a full-time employee isn't necessary, part-time or freelance contractors will get the job done.
Gone are the days where business owners had to manually perform their tasks. Thousands of programs, apps, and online services are available that can automate time-consuming tasks, track progress and generate reminders. Automation helps manage and streamline tasks, freeing up time to focus on other constructive tasks like business and professional development and marketing.
Make a List
For those of you that lie in bed at night - staring at the ceiling - thinking about the overwhelming amount of things you need to accomplish, this ones for you! Get back to basics, and just make a list. Nothing takes the overwhelming out of a to-do list quite like putting it on paper and seeing its’ manageability right in front of you. Separate your urgent and non urgent tasks, and by all means, keep business and personal separate as well. Prioritize your tasks in one place so you know you where you need to focus first.
At the end of the day, no one solution works for everyone. The trick is to find something that works or you that results in controlling the chaos and making the best use of your time - and just stick to it.
If your not sure where to start, please call us. We can help suggest what tasks you may be able to cost effectively outsource, what budget friendly software would work for your business for tracking and automation, or just provide some helpful templates to help you put a system in place to dig out from where you are..
Finally, for those of you smallbiz superheroes that have found a method, a system, software, or an app that works well, we’d love to hear from you.
How do you manage your time effectively in your small business?