Running a small business is not an easy task. Between client deadlines, keeping track of payments, and customers to please, it can feel like your to-do list never gets any smaller - trust me, we also still feel overwhelmed from time to time, and without the help of our team, a lot of things would be impossible. But if you are on your own and don’t have anyone else to rely on, your best shot at getting everything done is by managing your time wisely.
As a matter of fact, effective time management is probably one of the most important skills any small business owner needs to have. The goal of effective time management is to create a working environment that allows you to get things done and stay focused on your tasks. But effective time management is more than simply scheduling your day; it's about consistently maintaining a routine that makes daily tasks easier and more efficient. And with these 10 tips, you will see that it’s definitely achievable!
Evaluate how you spend your time daily
The first thing you need to do is to evaluate how much time you spend on your usual tasks because how we spend our time, is a reflection of our priorities. If we want to change the way we use our time, we need to first take a look at what is most important. Based on this, you will need to learn how to set priorities and how to say "no" to activities that aren't in line with your goals. By taking control of our time, we can make sure that we're spending it in ways that are truly meaningful to us.
Create a schedule and stick to it
Next, you should create a schedule with the tasks that you need to take care of. Whether you're a student trying to juggle a heavy course load, a working professional with a busy career, or a stay-at-home parent balancing childcare and household chores, an effective schedule can help you make the most of your time. Of course, creating a schedule is only half the battle. The key to successful time management is to stick to this schedule. This can be easier said than done, but there are a few simple tricks that can help. First, try to be as realistic as possible when planning your day. If you know that you're likely to get sidetracked by tasks that aren't on your list, allocate some extra time for those activities. Second, don't be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for help. And finally, remember to give yourself some flexibility.
Prioritize your tasks from most important to least important
While you are creating your schedule, try to prioritize certain tasks. Of course, all your tasks are important to a certain extent, but there are always some things that are more important than others and need to be done first.
To figure out what's most important and what can be postponed, break down each task into smaller parts so that you can see exactly how long each part will take. This will help you determine which ones are actually worth doing right now, versus those that aren't or shouldn't be done at all because they're not essential.
Assign time limits to each task on hand
Also, once you know how much time you need for a certain task, and you have organized them in a schedule based on their importance, you should also set yourself time limits or as I like to call them “deadlines”. I personally work much better if I have a bit of pressure - knowing that something needs to be done at a certain time allows me to sit down and focus, rather than letting time pass.
Avoid multitasking and focus on one task at a time
How good are you at multitasking? In our fast-paced world, it sometimes feels like it’s necessary to try to do multiple things at once in order to keep up. However, studies have shown that multitasking is actually ineffective and can actually lead to lower productivity. When we try to focus on multiple tasks at once, our brains become overloaded and we are not able to give any of the tasks our full attention. As a result, we end up taking longer to complete each task, and the quality of our work suffers. So, if you want to be more productive, it is best to focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention. You will find that you are able to complete each task more quickly and achieve better results.
Organize your workspace to avoid chaos
If you have a lot of work to do, you're probably feeling stressed and overwhelmed. The best way to overcome this feeling is by having an organized workspace so that you can manage your time effectively. It might seem silly, but having an organized desk will actually help you stay focused on the tasks at hand and avoid distractions, which will, in turn, allow you to get more done each day. If you want to avoid chaos and get more done, you need to set up your workspace in a way that encourages productivity and reduces stress. Remove all distractions and only leave the necessary things. Also, if you work from home, try to have one dedicated workplace. Even though it sounds tempting to work from your bed or sofa, you’ll just get tempted to take a quick nap, turn on the TV or pick up your phone.
Avoid distractions while working
Talking about distractions - it is important to avoid any possible distractions while working for efficient time management. Let’s be honest - how close is your phone to you when you are working? While you might think that this isn’t impacting you or that it helps you to become more productive, we know that’s not the case. It actually causes us to waste more time than if we would just put it away and focus on nothing but our work.
But not only devices are a distraction to us - people can be too. Try to keep your focus on what you are doing and don't let other people get in the way of your work. If someone asks you a question, tries to call you, or sends you a message, don't give them an answer until after you have finished your work. This will help keep your work time more efficient and make sure that you get everything done.
Plan ahead to be ready for any unexpected changes
Another thing, which is important to do is to expect the unexpected. There are always last-minute changes or plans that come between your plans, which is why it’s important that you think ahead - it’s one of the most important things you can do to be ready for any curveball thrown your way.
If you don't have a plan, then it's more likely that something will get in your way and prevent you from achieving your goals, and most importantly, you will end up wasting your precious time. Planning ahead means being prepared for anything that may arise unexpectedly and making sure that you have all of the information or tools necessary to deal with any situation that comes up.
Avoid procrastination and be active
Now, all this planning and organizing is great, but at the end of the day, you just need to sit down and get the work done. Unfortunately, procrastination is the reason why a lot of people fail to achieve their goals. It is a very common problem but can be prevented by keeping a positive attitude t work, avoiding distractions, and breaking down large tasks into small ones.
The most effective way to manage your time is to avoid procrastination and be active while working, as this helps you to stay focused on your goals. It also reduces the chances of getting bored or discouraged when things start to get difficult. There are many ways in which you can be active while working for effective time management:
- Take breaks from your work regularly
- Get up from your desk every hour or so and walk around the office for five minutes
- Put away your phone or laptop when leaving your desk
- Get involved in projects that interest you, such as research or volunteering
In general, you will want to make sure that you have a healthy work-life balance. If you don’t put enough importance on either one, you will see that your productivity will decrease drastically.
Use efficient time management tools
Lastly, I suggest using time management tools to help you stay on track. They are great because they simplify the process of managing your time effectively so that you can work smarter and achieve more in less time.
The best time management tools will help you keep track of your tasks and organize your priorities. They can also help you stay organized by helping you prioritize what needs to be done first, while others can be put on hold until later. To keep track of our tasks and the ones of our team we use Notion - here we write down all of our to-dos as well as their deadlines. It’s super helpful and allows all of us to stay on track.
And this completes the list of my top 10 tips on effective time management as a business owner. The next time you feel like there are never enough hours in the day, remember these tips, and hopefully, they will help you stay on track and manage your time smartly and effectively. As you can see, time management is essential for anyone looking to be productive and successful. Luckily, it's not as difficult as it may seem at first glance. By adopting some simple time management strategies and sticking to a routine, you can create an environment that allows you to focus on your tasks and get things done.
Until next time,