Time Management Tips for Small Business Entrepreneurs that Actually Work
If you’re an entrepreneur (or waiting in the wings), you’re probably aware of certain qualities and skills which are important to the success of your business. While some people are born with these qualities, many others develop them subconsciously during their formative years, while there are a few who need to make a conscious effort to learn them.
It is said that time waits for none. I couldn’t agree more, and in the business world, losing time is akin to losing money. This implies that time cannot be wasted. It’s always going to elude you, and there is always going to be a hell of a lot of demand on it.
The good news is that there are ways which enable you to control time – yours as well as your employees’. Read on to know more about how you can do so effectively.
Rank your tasks in the order of their importance to prioritize effectively. Make a ‘to-do’ list, if you have to stay on track and stick to it.
Every day will bring with itself a new set of problems and challenges and it is easy to sway and get sucked into them. However, having a list of the tasks you need to accomplish, along with the deadlines, will keep you focused.
Ranking is essential as it helps you determine the most important/urgent task. Checking completed tasks off your list can be extremely motivating.
Track Your Time
In order to use time effectively, you need to measure how much of it is available to you, and how and where are you using it. This is vital to exceptional time management. You need to track you time and identify where your crucial minutes and hours of the day are getting spent/wasted.
This can be in a number of ways. You can do so with the help of a physical list, a smartphone app, or an excel spreadsheet where you can mention the number of minutes/hours spent on a task.
But, the most effective way of doing so is with the help of high-quality time management software. It can help you manage your time in the simplest of fashion as well as calculate the most complex time gaps and variations in no time, which in essence, save your time.
This type of software is usually cloud-based so you can access it from anywhere any time and view all your saved data.
Don’t Deter Delegation
Taking a cue from the above point, once you’ve determined where you can cut back on spending your time, you can figure out which tasks require your skills and/or intervention, and which ones can be delegated.
There will always be certain tasks that will require your complete and undivided attention. You, as an entrepreneur, need to focus on work that is more strategic in nature. Other employees can be entrusted with functional jobs. You should be able to distinguish between what can be delegated and what cannot.
Delegating implies relying on other people to complete the tasks, while you work on other things. So make sure that you hire employees who you can trust, or else delegating can backfire.
Work on Setting Systems
Haphazard work always costs time. Organized and streamlined processes always help save time.
In most businesses, there are tasks which need to be performed mandatorily every day in order to ensure a smooth functioning of the office machinery.
This is where streamlining and creating recognized and effective systems and processes come into play. They quicken daily work, which ultimately saves a lot of time.
Avoid Frequent and Lengthy Meetings
Yes, meetings are an important and unavoidable part of every growing company’s culture, but only if they’re productive.
Long, unending meetings which do not result in a constructive outcome or an action plan are nothing but a waste of your as well as other people’s time at work, which could otherwise have been allocated to getting other important tasks completed.
Always have a set agenda before going into a meeting and try not to waver from it. Additionally, include only certain key people who can contribute with solutions and ideas to problems in the agenda. Keep meetings short and to the point.
Get the Difficult Tasks out of the Way First
Make sure you identify the tasks you find most challenging and get them out of the way first thing in the morning, or when you are at your optimum performance level.
We hear stories about what successful people do every morning, but that does not mean that only early risers can be successful. ‘Night owls’ are high-achievers too.
The great thing about running your own business is that it gives you the flexibility to work till late in the night, if you’re not a morning person. Take advantage of that.
Of course you’ve got some very talented people on board, but there are certain tasks which can perhaps be outsourced. It is possible that you may achieve better results from a firm that specializes in a particular task.
It could be recruitment, payroll, publicity, or anything that does not require dedicated or full-time departments. Outsourcing is cheaper than setting up and running certain departments.
Learn to Say ‘No’
While I completely understand that you do not want to disappoint your customers with a no, sometimes, it has to be said.
This holds especially true when you already have too much on your plate and a customer is being pesky, difficult, or unnecessarily time-consuming.
Rather than jeopardizing the customers you already have scheduled, say no to those who act unreasonably.
Be Ready for Interruptions
As much as we hate them, interruptions have a knack of showing up when we’re least prepared to deal with them.
Instead of spending too much time changing your plans, prevent these interruptions by scheduling some time to deal with them.
If you’re handling a particularly important project, make sure you have a plan B in place to keep you from dropping everything and losing track.
Shut that door, turn down the music, put your phone on the ‘silent’ mode, and hang a ‘Do not disturb’ sign outside your door, if that’s what it takes to cut distractions.
Apart from that, reducing distractions entails training the people you work with to respect time and focus on the task at hand.
Do Take a Break
The work-time ratio is going to be skewed most of the time, so don’t sweat if you sometimes feel overwhelmed at the pace at which time flies.
Remember, you’re a human being and have your limits. There is no point in turning into a workaholic and being tired and stressed out as that will reduce your productivity.
So do schedule breaks and time-offs into your schedule to maintain your focus, sanity and high performance levels.
All progressive entrepreneurs, whether new or experienced, have a peculiar thought pattern. They believe that there is always scope for improvement in the way they work or handle their business. They value time as one of their most precious resources, and make efforts to utilize it in the most optimal manner possible. You, too, can achieve success by prioritizing, preparing and then executing tasks in an effort to manage your precious time.