If you’re like most small business owners, you work nonstop—but somehow never seem to cross off even half the items on your to-do list. Short of adding 12 hours to each day, how can you get more out of the hours you actually have? Here are seven ideas.
- Plan ahead. End each day by making a list of what you want to accomplish tomorrow. Prioritize items so you know which ones absolutely have to get done and which can get pushed to the next day if necessary.
- Simplify. If you’ve got dozens of different calendars or yellow sticky notes with reminders jotted all over them, no wonder you can’t get a grip on time. Streamline time management by choosing (and using) one online calendar that stores and synchronizes your data in the cloud so you can access your schedule wherever you are. If employees or assistants need access to your schedule, share your calendar with them so they can see at a glance what’s on for the day.
- Be realistic. Do you schedule every minute of the day, then wonder why you never get everything done? When every minute is accounted for, you’ve got no wiggle room. It’s important to schedule some unscheduled time every day. That way when a meeting goes long, a client runs late or an urgent situation demands your attention for half an hour, it won’t throw your whole day out of whack.
- Know thyself. How do you work best? The time management system that works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. Take an honest look at your own rhythms, weaknesses and strengths. For instance, if you’re a night owl, trying to get up at 5:30 in the morning to get a jump on the day isn’t realistic. Now that you’re your own boss, you don’t have to conform to the 9-to-5 anymore unless that’s what works for you.
- Automate. Wherever possible, automate tasks using tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, social media management software or invoicing software to stay on top of customer follow-up, social media outreach and accounts receivable. By automating the small stuff like sending reminders or posting blogs, you’ll have more time for the big stuff that really matters to your business.
- Delegate. Many small business owners struggle with time management because they’re unwilling to let any task go, no matter how small. For your business to grow without you going crazy, you’ve got to delegate—whether to employees or outside contractors. Start small with less important tasks, give directions as to the outcome, and provide feedback without hovering. You’ll be surprised how much more time you have once you share the workload.
- Take breaks. It sounds counterintuitive, but “powering through” is not the best way to get work done. Make time for some form of exercise every day, whether that’s biking to work, doing yoga when you wake up or even just taking a brisk power walk at lunchtime. When you get your blood flowing, you energize your brain as well as your body, giving you the stamina to get through even your busiest days.
About the author:
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ andTwitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.