Whether you've been running your company for years, or you just selected your domain name today, you've probably figured out that as a small business owner, there are a limitless number of tasks that need to be done, and unfortunately, only 24 hours in a day. With good time management, you can produce more work and better work, while cutting down on your stress. These tips will help you maximize your time to the best of your ability so that each day you're prepared to reach your goals.
Make Your Routine Work For You
If you have the luxury of setting your own work hours, or even if you have some flexibility with your schedule, instead of setting the kind of routine you think you should live up to, set the kind of routine that does some of the work for you. How do you do that? You have to know yourself pretty well.
If you're someone who starts work at 8am, but doesn't quite perk up until 9am or 10am, first thing in the morning may not be the best time for you to schedule an interview or to meet with a potential partner. Instead, choose the lighter activities you need to get done to transition yourself into your work day, or if possible, start your work day a little later. If you notice you feel the most creative at 2pm, start setting aside that slot for brainstorming, creating, designing, and planning. Get a little antsy around 4pm? That might be a great time to squeeze in your exercise routine before you tackle the last project of the day. When your schedule makes sense, you own it instead of it owning you.
Multi-tasking was the thing to do 20 years ago. You were probably graded on it in school. And now that you're an expert at listening to news stories while simultaneously cooking dinner and sending emails, studies have indicated that doing multiple things at once may not be the smart time-savor it was one thought. Regardless of how good you may have gotten at multi-tasking over the years, trying to balance multiple things at once prevents you from completing any of those tasks at 100 percent. For example, if you occupy yourself with online conversations during work meetings, this has a negative effect on your personal relationships as well as your professional career because neither your friends nor your meeting are getting your full attention.
If you catch up on work at night while lounging in front of the TV, your work isn't being completed to the best of your potential, nor are you fully engaging in the "you time" you need to give your brain a rest. By multi-tasking, you're cutting yourself short in all areas of your life. With multi-tasking, projects take a lot longer to complete than they should. Crafting your company's latest blog article, something that may only require an hour of your time, takes three hours to finish instead. You're also more likely to make mistakes.
Multi-tasking also decreases your ability to focus on any one thing for an extended period of time. This can be an issue in your career (meetings, presentations, seminars) as well as in your personal life (driving). It can also have a long term effect on your memory. While focusing on just one thing at a time, all the time, isn't realistic, particularly for small business owners, doing so when you can will have a host of benefits. In addition to more productivity and increased efficiency, you're also less likely to feel stress or overwhelmed, which puts you in a clearer mindset to make better decisions.
Know When To Say No
As a small business owner, you'll come to find that as your success increases, so will the number of things other people will want you to do. Fundraisers will request your presence. Schools will ask for your availability. Newspapers will want an interview. Young entrepreneurs will ask for your advice. Students will inquire about internships and other small businesses will suggest partnerships. Meanwhile, as all these opportunities are increasing, your time is quickly shrinking. While it's nice to be considered for all of these things, eventually, you'll come to a point where it's impossible to do them all. Not only will trying to do so likely push you into being overworked, not all opportunities are going to make sense for you and your business to pursue. Instead of rushing through every door that opens, only choose the avenues that present themselves as a good fit, and get comfortable saying no to the ones that aren't. There's nothing wrong with politely declining an invitation that doesn't align with you, your business, your schedule or your long term goals. This will free up time for you to fully embrace the ones that are.
Start Delegating Your Tasks
Ask most small business owners about the first year they launched their company and they are likely to share fond memories of the early days: working from sunrise to sunset, being so preoccupied that they forgot to shower, and all with little profit to show for it in the hopes of someday making their company a big success. Maybe you're still in your early days. As entrepreneurs, you've gotten used to doing everything yourself, from managing your social media to filing your business taxes. Therefore, it can be anywhere from stressful to downright scary to hand over some of your responsibilities to someone else. But the truth is that you don't need to be doing all the tasks that you're doing, nor are you necessarily the best person for every job. By hiring help for tasks that someone else could do, especially if they can do it better, you'll not only take your business to the next level, you'll free up time in your schedule to do the things only you can do, as well as the things you like to do. That creates a much better workday.
Take Care of Yourself
Having a jam-packed schedule as a small business owner is not uncommon; however, as busy as you may be, it's crucial that you set aside time for your personal life, and that you continue to keep sleep, diet, and exercise as top priorities on your long to-do list. If you're tired everyday or if you're sick more often than you're not, you're not going to be able to live each day to its full potential. Not only will your business suffer from it, but you probably won't be having very much fun at work. Your computer works better when you take the extra time to close the programs you're not using, update the latest software, and restart it every one and a while. As a human being, you require even more maintenance. By taking care of yourself, you'll have more energy, a clearer mindset, and a more positive outlook on your company as a whole.