Small business owners put in a lot of hours. A recent SCORE article on "How Hard Small Business Owners Work" reported a study showing that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees with 39% working more than 60 hours a week. When owners are working that many hours, managing time is critical.
Time management, however, is a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs intuitively know that putting systems in place to help manage time is the best way to stay organized and get things done. But putting those systems in place takes - you guessed it - time. And more time is just something most business owners cannot afford to give.
Time is the Most Limited Resource You Have as a Small Business Owner. Manage it Wisely.
Making time for time management and creating ways to help you streamline your to-do list is ultimately going to give you more time to do your most important work. The trick is to keep things simple.
Here are some simple time management tips to help you take control of your productivity without adding hours to your day.
Tip #1: Keep a Schedule
Every meeting, project deadline and admin task should be written down and scheduled in a way that is both manageable and effective. To create a schedule and hold yourself accountable to self-imposed deadlines, the system needs to be simple. There are many great time management tools out there - like Trello and Todolist - that you can use to schedule tasks and stay organized. Most allow you to add task deadlines that flow into a calendar so you can easily see what tasks are in front of you in real-time.
Tip #2: Build in Some Wiggle Room
In a perfect world, we would create a plan, and everything would fall in line. But we live in the real world where the unexpected happens every day. Inevitably, last minute obligations will come up and you will be forced to adjust your schedule. That is why building in some flexibility is critical to successfully managing your time.
Tips #3: Streamline Your Email
Full-time professionals spend 28% of the workday reading and answering emails. When you are spending over two and a half hours of your day on email, it is hard to make time for the real work that is required of a small business owner. Streamlining your email process and reducing the time you spend answering emails will hugely improve your time management.
Tip #4: Focus on One Task at a Time
Multitasking is one of the many enemies of productivity. An article published by the American Psychological Association on multi-tasking discussed research showing that 'doing more than one task at a time, especially more than one complex task, takes a toll on productivity.' The human brain was not designed for heavy-duty multitasking. When we are multitasking, we are shifting focus back and forth to different parts of the brain, asking it to start and stop activities in quick succession. This ends up taking more time, more energy and produces a less effective result. Simply put, when we try to do two things at once, we fail to succeed at either.
Tip #5: Do not Try to Do It All
Since we cannot successfully do two things at once, the only way to get more done in the same amount of time when your plate is already full is to delegate. Delegation is one of the smartest and yet most underrated time management strategies. Rather than trying to 'do it all,' consider bringing on an employee or delegating tasks to a current employee to support your excess workload.
Get the Right Support so Your Time Management Routine Sticks
Managing time is a challenge for even the most self-disciplined entrepreneurs. Engage with a coach or mentor, like a SCORE mentor, who will hold you accountable and help you best manage your time so you can focus on your most important work and grow your business. To connect with a local SCORE mentor, call our office at 386-255-6889 or visit our website at volusiaflagler.score.org.
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