Best Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners
“Time is on my side,” sings the Rolling Stones. Unfortunately, they had it wrong. Time isn’t on your side. In fact, everyone finds themselves battling the clock – regardless of their age or occupation. There simply isn’t enough time in each day to accomplish what we need to do. Of course, there are some people who manage time more effectively than others, mainly because they’ve found unique ways to do so. With this in mind, here are some time management secrets to help you get your schedule under control.
Own Your Calendar by Starting Early in the Morning
Most CEOs will tell you that time is crucial, which means it’s vital that you get a control over your calendar. Business News Daily says this starts with creating lists of what you need to accomplish and what other people need you to accomplish. Without these lists you can’t own your calendar, and, in fact, it’ll own you. It doesn’t matter how big of a company you’re in charge of or how hard your job is, Jeff Immelt CEO of General Electric (GE) understands this. Immelt admits that this is why he starts off early each day – at 5:30 AM each morning. He understands that there are only 24 hours in a day, and he must use all of them.
Cluster Similar Tasks
You can save a lot of time in your day by grouping similar tasks together – things like dealing with employee problems, completing and filing paperwork, listening to voice mail messages, reading emails, etc.
Ignore Your Email
If you’re like most people, you probably check your email every 5 – 10 minutes. When you add all the time up that it takes to not only do this, but also reply to your email, Money Crashers says it’s easy to see how much time is wasted here. This is why you need to stop being a slave to your email and make your email a slave to you instead. Do this by setting aside two times throughout your day to check and respond to all your messages. You’ll need to be seriously motivated and disciplined to make this work but doing so will give you more time to devote to other tasks and focus on other issues without interruption. If you’re concerned that this may look unprofessional, set up an auto responder telling people that you’ll respond in a certain amount of time (e.g. 10 – 12 hours, 24 hours, etc.).
Choose the Right Business Phone System
Make sure you have the best phone system in place. There are a few things you’ll want to consider when you’re shopping for such a system, including:
- Determine whether you need a full phone system with physical office telephones or a virtual phone service that relies on mobile devices instead
- If you do need office telephones, decide what kind of service you want – a traditional landline from your local or regional phone company or a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system that runs over the internet
- For VoIP you need to consider whether you want to house the system at your business (on-premises) or have it hosted by your service provider (cloud-based)
Most of today’s companies opt for a virtual business phone system because it’s so advantageous. These advantages include:
- They’ll connect your main business phone number to remote workers’ mobile or home phones, which makes telecommuting easier
- Remote workers have access to various phone system features that mobile and home phones don’t offer
- They offer an extensive call-forwarding solution since calls can be transferred to each of your employee’s designated phones (either cell or home phone) when customers call your main business number
- These systems include various features that enhance your business – including automated receptionists, voicemail, call forwarding, call screening, and online faxing
Although you hear people touting the advantages of multi-tasking today, they’re wrong. A recent study by the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review showed that only about 2.5% of people can effectively multi-task well. The Institute of Psychiatry at the University of London went on to demonstrate that a person’s IQ falls 10 points while multi-tasking. Focusing on one task is much more advantageous. In fact, time management experts show that you can double your productivity, work output, and performance simply by focusing on the task at hand. As a small business owner this means the difference between success and failure so make yourself do one thing at a time by setting a timer and then focusing on the task until it’s complete or the timer goes off.
Delegate or Outsource Responsibilities Responsibly
Business Know How says that while delegating responsibilities is difficult, it’s essential if you want to reduce stress, get more done, and increase your business’ success. When you look at your tasks, you should organize these as:
- Tasks you must do yourself
- Work other people can help you with
- Jobs other people can do but you’ll need to review before marking them “complete”
- Things you can simply delegate for others to do
As you look through these things, keep the 80/20 rule in mind. This rule states that if other people can do a task at least 80% as well as you, then you should delegate the task to them, even if you enjoy doing this type of task yourself. If you try to delegate and find that it doesn’t work out well for you, consider outsourcing. Forbes says this is a great option because even when delegating doesn’t work for you, these tasks still don’t belong on your “plate.” Simply put, stop being a control freak, be willing to let go of some things, regardless of how you go about doing so.
Accept the Fact you Won’t Finish Everything
Many people believe they either can or need to finish everything. This only causes frustration and makes them ineffective. Until you face the fact that you’re only human and you really can’t finish everything, you won’t be able to make tough decisions about what your priorities are. This means nothing will get done well.