This post was taken from the America’s SBDC blog and was originally written by Jennifer Lobb at Nav.Com. To subscribe to the America’s SBDC newsletter, click here.
Running a business is time consuming work, and as a new business owner, time is exceedingly hard to come by. Though you may not be able to add an extra hour (or minute, for that matter) to your day, there are ways you can capitalize on, and make the most of, the time you do have. By following the seven tips below, you’ll be able to take charge of your day and manage your time in a way that improves both your productivity and state of mind.
List & Define Your Tasks & Goals
When thinking about time and how to better manage it, there are two dominating categories of obligations and to-dos and your list: operational tasks and business goals. Tasks are those mundane-yet-import requirements that happen daily, weekly or monthly, without fail.
Emails, meetings, bills, inventory, etc. all account for the tasks that must be completed to keep a business up and running. On the other hand, things like new projects, sales incentives, marketing initiatives, hiring and expansion activities, etc. all represent goals that are important to business success and growth.
Identifying and defining them can help you better manage and make room for them as you further establish your time management strategy.
Organize, Prioritize & Cluster
Once a list has been created, it’s easier to prioritize, organize and cluster tasks. By prioritizing, you can determine what tasks and goals belong in the most productive part of your day, and by organizing and clustering, you can take similar tasks and work on them as a huge chunk, as opposed to scattering them throughout the day, negating systematic productivity.
Scheduling time may seem like a binding practice, but in reality, the time you’ll gain from thoughtfully dedicating your time to certain projects or tasks can be quite freeing. By creating a schedule, you can carve out time for both goals and daily minutiae.
Though schedules are and should be designed to follow, it’s also important to account for all the unexpected things that happen as a business owner. That makes flexibility an important consideration in designing a schedule that will work. Filling a schedule with back to back tasks and goal attainment exercises can quickly backfire with even a minor curveball, so add some space for the unexpected.
Give Yourself a Break
It may seem counter intuitive, but it’s incredibly important to give yourself some time to break away from the daily grind, the endless responsibilities, and your devices, even if it’s only for a quick 15-minute stroll or an off-premise lunch.
Taking a break, particularly between task clusters, can give you time to reset your mind, and though you are taking time away from the tasks at hand, the fresh mindset will make you far more productive than you would have been if you had spent the day tethered to your desk, computer or phone.
Delegate When Possible
In the early stages of a business, delegation can be tricky. But as you become more accustomed to the way thing should work, and you hire and train skilled employees, there will be more opportunities to delegate tasks that can and should be easily handled by those you trust to carry out your business initiatives.
Delegation is not only part of becoming a strong business owner, it’s also required if you want to free up time to focus on the important issues at hand. Keep in mind that delegation means letting others take charge and providing feedback and assistance only as needed or required.
Distractions are commonplace in the work place, and when you’re the business owner, everyone wants a piece of your time. Combine that truth with the endless amount of distractions supplied by a digitally connected life, and getting anything done can be difficult.
Close your door, schedule open-door office hours, silence your phone, and stay off-line to get the most out of a chunk of time. If endless browsing is one of your weaknesses, consider using a focus inducing tool like OmniWriter and FocusBooster, which can help keep you on track and out of the digital wild.
Take Advantage of Business Apps
Speaking of apps, when it comes to organizing, managing, and running a business, there are a ton of them. And if you’re looking for a way to really make the most of your time, you should be looking into them.
From accounting and finances to scheduling and human resource concerns, there are apps that will help new and seasoned business owners streamline tasks and remove the need for redundant or unproductive manual effort. To get started, check out Nav’s post on productivity boosting apps.
For most of us, well managed time comes with practice, but with the help of the tips above, managing new business to-dos and shaping habits for the future are well within your reach.