Time is precious for small business owners but it’s easy to waste your energy on things that don’t matter or get bogged down by slow processes and procedures. However, there are things you can do. Here are 14 tips for improving your time management.
- Any time you spend organising yourself and your working environment will be time well spent: you won’t be distracted by clutter and outdated material and won’t waste time looking for documents.
- Once that desk is tidy and functional, start the day by clearing the decks of smaller issues: quickly scan new mail and messages, review your schedule and deal with any defined, urgent tasks.
- Next up, you need to prioritise any bigger actions that are important and urgent: for example, where others are waiting for your input.
- Act decisively to delegate unimportant activities or drop them altogether. That’s something every busy director and business owner shouldn’t be afraid to do. So trust your staff.
- Keep all tasks that remain manageable and do each task beginning to end. Only reward yourself when you hit a meaningful milestone. Stay focused.
- Allow some time between tasks so you’ve space for the unexpected and for conversations with the team.
- Be realistic about tasks and how long they take. Just knowing that a certain task will genuinely take no more than an hour will motivate you to complete it.
- Recognise what times of day best suit different activities: for example, make important customer calls when you are at your liveliest.
- If there are any tedious, unpleasant or long-term activities on your agenda that you cannot delegate, don’t ignore them. Build them into your routine, perhaps by scheduling tasks at a set time.
- Consider using time-management and project-management tools to improve effectiveness. Also use other simpler software: a smartphone-synced diary and to-do list as a minimum. You’ll also need a good physical filing system, templates for standard letters and procedures for routine tasks.
- Keep an eye on your business processes such as payment and HR procedures to see if they are slowing your operations down. If they are, improve them.
- Get rid of all those regular distractions. At times that will mean turning off your smartphone when you need to, ignoring email, and refusing unscheduled or unnecessary visits and meetings.
- Try to collaborate effectively: ask others to provide just what you need, in a form that suits you when you need it, and do the same for them.
- Analyse your time use: log all your activities, and end each day with a review of how much time you wasted on unimportant matters and tasks you should have delegated. That way you can tweak things for tomorrow and be even more effective.