When you're a small business owner, there isn't a minute to spare! You no doubt have a long list of things to do and not enough time to do them all. You have to decide how many employees to hire (and then manage these employees), market your business, and a million other little details. This is why it is so important to make the most of the time you have, by managing your time efficiently.
You've no doubt read article after article full of time management tips in an attempt to get a handle on that to-do list and to make the most of your day so you can make your business a success! Not every tip is suited for every business owner; some tips might work for you but not for someone else. With some trial and error you can find tips that will work for you.
Here are 10 essential time management tips for small businesses. Pick a few and try them out!
1. Tracking your time is the first step toward time management. Doing this allows you to optimize the time utilized for each task and avoid the incredible time wasters that you face each day.
To do this, you don't need fancy software or the latest smartphone. Simply carry a notebook around and write down all of your activities that occupy your time every day.
Try this for about a week. Jot down what you do and how long it takes you to do it. Are you spending half an hour making small talk with a supplier? Is your office so unorganized that it takes you half an hour to find that file that you just had? This time can really add up, and before you know it the day is over.Writing down how you spend your time helps you to see where your time goes and what changes you need to make to manage your time better.
2. Before doing anything, first thing in the morning, take the time to plan your day out. Assign a time period for everything - one hour for returning phone calls, 30 minutes to check email, etc. But don't pack your schedule too tightly, because that's just asking for failure. Make sure to plan your day with extra time assigned to each task (say, adding 10 minutes to each task to allow for interruptions).
3. Don't be afraid to put up a "do not disturb" sign on your door for some time each day. "Do not disturb" also applies to your phone and email - turn both off to ensure that you can work without interruption. And, it applies to perusing the Internet and social media and other distractions - make sure that Facebook is off during the business day!
4. Along those lines, don't feel like you have to return phone calls and answer emails right away. Include time in your daily schedule for these tasks.
5. Multi-tasking might sound like a great time management technique, but some studies show that people who multi-task actually get less done than people who focus on one task at a time. You may feel like you're getting a lot done only to find, at the end of the day, that your to-do list is still full of items that still haven't been crossed off. Trying to multi-task may, in the end, also cause you to feel more stressed out!
6. Celebrate those things that you have gotten done ("resolved" issues). After all, knocking things off your to-do list is a success! This also encourages you to move on and work on "unresolved issues," by focusing your energy and managing your time.
7. Know when you can delegate tasks. This can be easier said than done if you are a Type A control freak. A good rule to follow is that if your staff can do something at least 80% as well as you could, then you know you can delegate a task with confidence.
8. Know when to say "no" and how to prioritize. Both of these things get easier with practice!
9. Get out of the perfectionist habit. Getting everything "perfect" is impossible, and trying to do so is frustrating and ultimately wastes time.
10. When you were at school concerned about grades or working for a company with a boss looking over your shoulder, did you easily managing your time? It may be that having someone holding you accountable is just what you need. Find an "accountability buddy" to encourage you to meet your deadlines and your goals.
Besides these 10 essential time management tips for small businesses, there are hundreds more out there. Don't give up until you find a time management technique that works for you! In the end it is worth the effort.
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