Being a small business owner is very rewarding. However, it can also be busy and overwhelming. Here are a few hacks you can implement to help you with your small business time management.
Keep priorities in check with a to-do list
Some days it feels like you have a thousand things to do and they’re all critically important. On those days, a to-do list can be a lifesaver.
First, write down everything you can think of that you have to do. Then, rewrite the list in order of priority. Top priority tasks are often time-sensitive; they have to be done today. Other high-priority tasks might be those that have the biggest impact on your business.
Keep your priority list short. Remember the 80-20 Rule: just 20% of your business tasks contribute 80% of your results. Make sure you know which tasks are in that 20%.
Many small business owners use apps such as Trello and Asana to keep their tasks organized. Both of these apps allow you to create task lists. Even better, you can organize your tasks into categories such as “do today,” “do tomorrow,” and “do next week.” You can create a card for each item on your to-do list and then move it from the “to-do” column to “in progress” and finally “complete.”
Create daily and weekly schedules
It’s a good idea to plan out your workday by day and week by week to stay on track. At the beginning of the week, sit down with your prioritized to-do list. Decide which items you’ll do each day. Then, make a schedule for each day of that week.
The schedule can be as strict or flexible as you want. Some people like blocking out the exact time that they’ll accomplish each task, such as “Monday, 10:30-11:45 am.” Others prefer just to assign a task to “morning” or “afternoon.”
You can create your schedule in a notebook or planner, or use an online template.
Remember to be realistic when planning out your week. Make your plan based on what you actually think you can get done, not what you want to get done. And, leave room for flexibility.
Planning your day and week is worthwhile, even if things end up changing. Once you’ve made a plan, you can easily move tasks around to stay on track.
Group similar tasks
Grouping similar tasks helps you get more done in a shorter period of time. Maybe right now in your business, you do a little bit of client calls, writing, and invoicing every day. You may notice that it’s hard to switch from one task to the next. After all, these three tasks require very different skill sets.
Try to arrange your schedule to group all your weekly client communication together, and then plan all your weekly writing at a different time. When you work on the same task for a longer period of time, it’s easier to get into the flow. You’ll save time because you won’t have to switch your attention from task to task.
Plan for distractions, but limit them as much as possible
You can’t be productive every second of every day. Distractions happen, and that’s okay. When planning out your work, remember to take lost time into account. For example, if you plan to work eight hours in a day, consider planning around seven hours worth of work.
It’s also helpful to balance tasks that require deep focus with lighter tasks throughout the day. Maybe after working intensively on your marketing plan for a few hours, you have a more relaxed meeting with some team members.
Recognizing your common distractors is also important. If you often get side-tracked by social media or other fun sites, think about adding a focus app to your browser. Focus apps block certain sites until a preset time.
Sometimes employees and family members can be a large source of distraction. One solution is to set specific hours during which you cannot be interrupted. Communicate this boundary clearly and stick to it.
Track your time
A time-tracking system is an excellent small business time management solution. Tracking your time means knowing exactly how long you’re spending on each task that you do. When you accumulate this data over time, you can see how much time you’re investing in each part of your business.
Your time tracking data may surprise you. For example, you may find out that you’re spending two or more hours a day answering emails and messages. That data might motivate you to change your communication processes or seek out an assistant.
Plenty of research shows that multitasking doesn’t work. Though it can be tempting to try to accomplish multiple things at once, you actually end up spending more time on each task. Plus, you’re more likely to make mistakes.
Recognize your energy flow throughout the day and week
Everyone has different times of high and low energy. This is completely natural and something that you should
Everyone has different times of high and low energy. This is completely natural and something that you should factor into your small business time management strategy. Be compassionate to yourself when your energy is low. Just because you didn’t get something done doesn’t mean that your whole day is ruined. Just keep moving forward and trusting that you’ll get it done, in time.
Another way to save time in your small business is to outsource time-consuming tasks. ServiceWorks, “your back office in a box,” does just that. You can try ServiceWorks for free for 14 days without having to give your credit card information.