Knowing how to run a successful small business entails a lot of things, one of which is knowing how to manage your time. Good time management isn’t something we do naturally – it’s a skill we grow into.
Managing my time in an effective way was something I learned in university and I’ve since utilized this skill to produce results in my life as well as those of my clients. And while it does take a certain level of discipline and accountability on your part, if you nurture these skills your business growth is limited only by your imagination. Building small businesses doesn’t happen by chance and no one is “too busy” in this life to get “it” done – we just lack the skills to manage our time. Here are 5 key ways you can develop your time management skills to run a successful small business and in essence, create more time in your day and cash in your wallet.
1. Good Time Management = Set Priorities. Everything we do in our day is based around what we value and deem important. Think about it – you never fail to brush your teeth, take your kids to the doctor or pay your taxes. You make time and it gets done. Completing tasks for your small business works the same way. Time management begins with planning. Sit down with a pen and paper. I know – you’re busy. Do it anyway. Make a list of all the things you want to do for your business – keep it to two or three tasks per page. Now, break those down. What steps do you need to do to make each one happen? Be specific. I’ll say it again – write them down. Now number them based on what’s most important to your business success. What needs to get done now and what can wait? There! You’ve set your priorities. Now comes the tricky part.
2. Good Time Management = Break out the crayons; Coloured pens or highlighters work too. Draw a circle around each main priority – do you see themes evolve? In the time management for my business I’ve grouped them into 6 main categories: Social Media; Design; Freelance Writing; Appointments; Blog; Daily Tasks. Now open up your calendar. For some people a traditional paper calendar works best, others like electronic versions such as Google Calendar or Outlook – I prefer my iCal. Schedule them with corresponding flags or colours depending on which tool you use. Set alarms for everything and estimate the amount of time you will be “busy” for. I do this too for quiet/fun time, exercise/outdoor time and house responsibilities time – 20 minutes of each, every single day.
3. Good Time Management = Follow Through, Stay Focused, Evaluate and Evolve. You may need to adjust the times you’ve set as you see how long it takes you to complete tasks or even re-assign certain items to different days. Stay on top of this – make it a part of your routine so it’s the first thing you check when you begin your day and the last that you update before you log off. Your time and priorities, just like your business, will change depending on the tasks that arise. Be flexible and make sure it works.
4. Good Time Management = Delegation. Yes, this applies to solo entrepreneurs in home businesses as well as multi-body firms. You can’t accomplish everything that needs to get done on your own – so make good use of the people in your network. If your small business provides solutions to cat sky-diving enthusiasts, assign your website design to a qualified member of your team or hire a professional. Likewise, if you’re a graphic designer, it’s probably best if you hire someone else to cut your hair. Free up moments of your time for more important tasks by being smart about what you take on.
5. Good time management = Recognizing the Law of Diminishing Returns. There are times when you will find you’re working for 16 hours a day but are only actually productive for about 5. If this is the case, stop. Put it away, go do something completely unrelated for the next 12-24 hours and then – and only then – come back to your work. If what you’re doing isn’t adding value to your business, you’re going to hit a wall and will likely burn out – then what good will you be? Take those much needed breaks through out the day and even allow yourself one or two days off to regroup and recharge – your business will be more successful and your brain (and therapist) will thank you.
Do you manage your time effectively? What can you be doing better? What are your time management tips? How do you run your business successfully?