As small business owners, we are responsible for every aspect of running our businesses, and don’t we know it? From planning and selling to marketing and managing, accounting, and designing, we have a lot on our plate.
So quickly, the pressure on our time increases, and we start feeling overwhelmed. These feelings naturally reduce our efficiency and hamper our productivity and positivity. So often, we don’t know where to begin, so we end up procrastinating or putting stuff off, or we get the more manageable tasks done to make us feel we are at least doing something!
“I’ll just get these little bits done, out of the way, then I’ll be able to concentrate.”
Have you ever heard yourself saying this? As a result, the growth of our business starts to suffer, and we lose that all-important momentum. But there is good news; it is totally possible to take control of your work schedule and to-do list by working on organising and planning your time better and in advance.
I dislike the phrase’ Time Management. It all sounds very corporate, and as small business founders, there is no life-work balance. It’s just life; some days, it mingles into one. I’ve realised through my own small business journey that this is one of the most critical skills for business owners; some tasks can be outsourced, but managing our own time is purely down to us, and how well we do this very much relies on where and what we spend our time on.
No matter how packed our schedule gets as business owners, we must allocate time to building awareness of what we are spending our time on and managing it to see our vision come to life.
Here are three essential time management tips for small business owners. They are straightforward tips you can start implementing today!
1 – Plan out the following day, the night before
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, make a plan for the following day, the night before or as you finish work. This little habit has significant benefits. I’ve been doing this for years, and it’s one of the reasons I can achieve so much in a day.
When I get to start my day, there is no ‘What do I need to do today?’ (Get distracted on Instagram etc.) I get up and get straight on with it. I don’t have to think; all my brain power can go to the task in hand. It helps with distractions; too, I tend to park them, jot them down and deal with them later (if I can). It keeps me more focused throughout the day and gives me a measure throughout the day. You can ask yourself, “Am I where I need to be now in my day”? And you can respond accordingly before the day runs away with you.
Your plan doesn’t need to be fancy; list what you need to do or want to do that day. It’s essential to have a mixture of ‘have to do’ and ‘want to do’ to grow your business daily. Ideally, put it in priority order so you can work your way through it and achieve momentum. I write this list in my planner next to the relevant day (I use the HELLO TIME Horizontal Planner as this has a whole page on the right of the week page purely for this reason). I can easily visualise my day and week. I can see what I’ve achieved and what needs to get done. Equally you can use a to-do list our MY DAY Daily Planning Pad to get your daily plans in one place.
2 – Set time limits
As a business owner, you might have several meetings to attend and many other tasks to take care of during the day. But it’s important to remember that you only have 24 hours a day and need your sleep! So don’t let any random requests that don’t align with your values, unplanned meetings, or other people’s urgencies steal more of your time if you can help it.
There are times you might face situations that just can’t be avoided. A good idea to manage time when such unplanned events come up is to set a hard stop time. Make sure not to spend more than, say, 20 minutes on an unexpected meeting or not to spend more than 10 minutes on an unscheduled call. That way, you can fit it in and get back on track with your day rather than letting it take over and writing the whole day off.
3 – Just do one task at a time
The term multi-tasking isn’t new, and we ladies love to multi-task, don’t we? You may think you can get more work done by handling multiple jobs at a time, but the truth is that it hampers our productivity, and you can end up doing things twice in some instances through making mistakes.
The simplest way to complete more work is to focus on one task at a time. That way, your job gets done sooner. Switching between tasks jams up your mental bandwidth and ruins your attention, and it can take up to 23mins to get back to the same level of focus you had before you were distracted, if you think of how many times a day we are distracted, that is a lot of wasted time! Having your undivided attention on one task boosts your efficiency.
Efficient time management is one of the essential skills for entrepreneurs. But remember, better time management is about managing your time more efficiently and making sure you spend your time on both running your business and growing it.