For many entrepreneurs, starting their own business is a dream come true. However, being a small business owner requires that you to wear nearly every hat, as the accountant, human resources, marketing director, and so much more. Therefore, it is imperative that you manage your time efficiently. Without proper planning and prioritization, you risk falling behind on important tasks, causing your business to suffer. But, how do small business owners efficiently use the time they have when their task list seem never-ending? We’ve compiled these 7 tips to help improve your time management skills, allowing you to prioritize your to-do list, increase your efficiency, and better balance all the aspects of managing your small business.
Not everything on your plate must be done right this second. Some tasks don’t have to be done by you at all. Use the Eisenhower box to begin improving your time management skills by sorting your tasks into four categories:
- Urgent – These tasks must be done as soon as possible. They are important and time sensitive.
- Important but not urgent – These tasks should have a deadline attached to them, but they don’t have to be done right now.
- Urgent but not important – Tasks in this category can be delegated to someone else or outsourced to another company. They need to be done soon just not by you.
- Not urgent not important – these tasks can be trashed. They should not be on your radar at work.
You can also use the ABC method. Write down every task at hand and prioritize them by importance A tasks are most important and C tasks are least. Then take each group and individually label them A-1, A-2 etc. Everything has a rank of importance to keep you on task.
Trying to figure out which tasks go into which category can be confusing. That’s where the Pareto analysis comes into play. It’s also called the 80/20 rule. Typically, 20% of your tasks will generate 80% of your business. So, that 20% should be at the front and center of your priorities. The other 80% of the tasks can be done later.
Step by Step Goals
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. This is how you can tackle your goals and improve your time managment. Start with what you want to accomplish before lunch, then, after lunch. Determine, what do you want to accomplish before the end of the week? Then the month, and the year. If you can break your goals down into manageable chunks, your to-do list will feel much less intimidating and increase your ability to focus.
It can feel like having excellent multi-tasking abilities is a great goal to achieve. ‘Strong multi-tasking abilities’ is a job requirement for nearly every position. But, studies show it slows your productivity. Time management experts predict that by simply focusing on one task at a time you can double your productivity, output, and performance. That is like music to the ears of small business owners.
It’s easy to get completely sucked into the task at hand. It can take up hours of your time leaving you feeling exhausted when it’s over. Giving yourself a break is important. If you are exhausted, you aren’t working at maximum capacity. The Pomodoro technique breaks down each task into twenty-minute chunks. When twenty minutes is up, you take a five-minute break to recharge.
According to a study done by Esselte 43% of Americans are self-proclaimed disorganized people. They also stated that this disorganization causes them to work late at least twice a week. Thus, organizing your workspace is a huge time saver. It eliminates distractions so you can focus. You spend substantially less time trying to find that thing ‘you know is at your desk somewhere’. Everything has a place. Clutter is a drain on your time and energy reserves.
Checking email several times a day is a huge waste of time. It takes you away from the task at hand and it will take that much longer to get yourself re-focused on what you were doing. Receiving 200 emails a day can be overwhelming, but it’s necessary to know what’s going on with clients and vendors. The key is to dedicate specific chunks of time to email. For example, only responding and sending email for two hours per day. This could be from 10 AM-11 AM and from 2:00 PM-3:00 PM or whatever works for you. The goal is to not let it run your day.
Time management is essential for business owners to be successful. There are so many plates spinning in the air it may feel like you are just waiting for one to break. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is completely feasible to improve your time management skills by making a few, simple changes to how you prioritize your tasks. This can make huge impacts not only in your stress levels but in the efficiency of your small business as a whole. By managing your time well, you can better prioritize your to-do list and focus on accomplishing the mission of your business.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.