As an entrepreneur running my own business, time management can become an issue if not managed properly.
Time is unlike anything else in the business world. Lose some, or worst still, waste it and you will never get it back. Making the most of your time is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects of running a small business successfully.
But how should you manage your time in the small business environment? I’ve compiled a list of simple techniques that you as the small business owner can use to ensure time management doesn’t become an issue for you.
Often as an entrepreneur, the tasks that you need to complete will fall into your lap. This is especially true when you are starting out and may not have the capital outlay to employ extra staff.
A great idea is to prioritize your tasks on a daily basis. Rank them in order of importance for the day and begin to work on them in that order. Bear in mind that everybody is different. You might not be the most productive person in the morning, perhaps working at your best after lunch. Leave the most important task for then, unless there is a pressing morning deadline.
As someone who works at my best in the morning, I prefer to get all the important things done when I am at my freshest, leaving smaller, less important tasks for later in the day.
A diary is important
Never underestimate the importance of a diary! Not only can this help you to prioritize tasks, but it will ensure that you do not miss any important meetings you might have scheduled. As many of you may know, it is very easy to get caught up in the day’s activities and have this happen. Nothing is more unprofessional than missing a meeting you might have scheduled, especially if it is with suppliers or prospective clients.
In today’s modern world, a diary need not be something that you physically write in. Use online tools, apps on your smartphone or anything that works best for you.
Say no to multi-tasking!
With so many time pressures on small business owners, most will end up multi-tasking to try and complete their daily tasks. This is especially true when starting out your business, a period when you may not have other staff to assist you. Studies have shown that moving from task to task is more efficient than multi-tasking in most cases. By moving from task to task, you retain your focus on that activity alone. This helps to complete it efficiently and ultimately over a shorter period of time.
Assign time limits to each task
This is another effective way of ensuring you do not remain on a menial task for too long, thus taking time out of your day that you could have used far more effectively. Let’s look at a simple example. Email is a critical tool for any small business owner. Of course, it is imperative to check email every day, but often we can get bogged down during this simple task. Assign a time and a time limit in which you check your email. Prioritize the emails and deal with all the important ones first, leaving the less important for the next day or for a free period in your day. Long extended email communications can also take up a lot of your time. Consider a phone call instead to wrap things up quickly.
Take a break!
Make sure that you take time out every day to take a break from your daily business activities. Take time to move away from your desk for five minutes, make a cup of tea or take a walk outside. Always remember to take a lunch break as well. This time away from the hustle and bustle of your daily tasks will help you to recharge your mind, cut down on mistakes and complete more tasks throughout the day.
Consider outsourcing areas beyond your expertise
Outsourcing is a great way to ensure you do not end up involved in tasks that are not your area of expertise. This often wastes valuable time when you try to undertake them and you’re likely to end up frustrated and less effective at your other tasks.
Core business should be handled by you – it’s the reason you started the company – but outsourcing other aspects such as payrolls, accounting, tax, public relations or advertising will save time and money in the long run.
As your business grows and you begin to employ more staff – in admin in particular – be sure to delegate tasks that will free you up to focus on the areas you excel in as well as the core areas your business operates in. This will allow you to look at expanding your client base, look for new business opportunities and adjust core strategies.
Although some of these small business time management tips might be pertinent to your current situation, they are all valuable and hopefully you will find a use for them as your business grows.
Sophie is the co-founder of www.purelywallclocks.com.au. Purely Wall Clocks is an Australian store that specialises in clocks and has a huge range of quality styles and designs. Sophie has made it her mission to curate the finest range of wall clocks in Australia.