It’s often true in business ownership that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. The demands on your time aren’t going anywhere, so you’re going to have to get good at prioritising tasks, knowing what you can afford to ignore and managing your workflow carefully. Here are some tips on mastering your time management.
Time Management – The early bird catches the worm
Ever noticed that those who get into the office early seem to be well prepared for the day less stressed? An early start helps to avoid the 9am rush and the serenity of quietly working before the distractions of the day start can help you to prepare in peace. Studies have actually shown that regular early risers tend to sleep better and are generally more productive.
Time Management – Plan your day
It may seem obvious but before you get going take time to plan your day. We’re all familiar with the ‘to-do list’ but how often do we actually use them? Whatever your preferred medium, be it paper, a website or an app, get into the habit of using it. While planning, think carefully about which tasks are essential, which are non-essential and which need to be completed as a matter of priority. If a task doesn’t directly relate to your bottom line, ask if it really needs doing at all.
Time Management – Delegate
As the company’s driving force, you’re a doer. When a problem comes your way, it’s your natural reaction to try to fix it. Your close emotional connection to the business also means that you want everything done well, so the temptation is to do it yourself.
Your time is very valuable, though, so you should only working on jobs that couldn’t be done by anyone else. Delegate anything that doesn’t absolutely require your attention. If there’s nobody to pick up that work, ask yourself how much your time is worth and whether it’s more cost effective in the long-run to hire.
Time Management – Put aside time for big picture thinking
Some business owners work so hard on the day-to-day operations of the business that they forget to raise their head to see what’s going on around them. Have you ever felt like you don’t have time to think? You may be working hard but is the business actually moving forward? Take time to reflect on the business and where you want it to be in the future. By focusing on the bigger picture regularly you’ll ensure that your efforts are geared towards growth.
Do not disturb means do not disturb
As the business’s leader, it’s crucial that you’re around to help staff out with any problems they might have. At the same time, though, you’ve got lots to do yourself. Set aside regular periods where your staff know that you’re not to be disturbed, turn off your phone and email and get in the zone. A couple of hours of pure time management concentration can be worth days of repeated interruptions.
Time Management – Reflect and prepare
At the end of the day take time to check back. Congratulate yourself internally for what you’ve achieved and start to plan for the next day, that way when you return you’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Ask yourself if tomorrow’s list looks feasible. If not, start thinking about delegating or cutting less important tasks.
Time Management – Automate what you can
The right tools can take a huge bite out of your workload, so take those opportunities to automate parts of your job. For example, effective accounting software can remove the need to manually keep records, and CRM suites can free you from keeping meticulous accounts of your client relationships.
There’s a definite learning curve to managing your time effectively and everyone has an approach that works best for them. Identify the biggest drains on your time in day-to-day work and look for ways to make those processes more efficient, but be sure to stay flexible; you never know what challenge is coming next.
Visit the starting up portal for more help on facing those first time management challenges.