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How to manage your time as a small business owner

3 January 2018 Small Business Advice

‘Time is money’, there are no truer words spoken in business. Time is certainly a valuable resource and how you use it effectively can determine whether your business succeeds or fails. However, it’s easy to lose of sight of this within a stringent daily routine. To make best out of your time, here are a few smart tips that you can use every day.

Prioritise your tasks

Ask yourself how important or urgent a task actually is. To set priorities, you’ll need to know deadlines, specific job requirements, deliverables and whether you need assistance from others. Once you have some perspective, formulate a plan of action.

Plan ahead

Time spent planning is trivial compared to the time you lose when jumping aimlessly from task to task. Before every workday, try taking 15 minutes to compile a list of your most urgent tasks. If your workload is particularly heavy, look further ahead and create weekly or even monthly schedules that factor in timings and available resources.

Learn to say no

Being a ‘yes man’ doesn’t pay. As the business owner, you have every right to shift your attention from less important time-consuming activities to more productive projects. Don’t be afraid to delegate or simply push back on low-priority requests.

Focus on the task at hand

Concentration is crucial for executing a task accurately. Avoid distractions – if your mind wanders, try to recall what you were doing when you lost your way. If you’re easily distracted, try a good set of headphones to drown out the noise!

Organise your space

How can you work efficiently if you’re surrounded by chaos? You don’t have to go full-on feng shui, just spend a few minutes each day tidying your desk and get rid of anything that’s unnecessary. Clutter can set a bad impression for clients and be distracting for staff.

Track your time

Keep a time log of your daily tasks. This will give you a better view of how you spend your time – you might be surprised by how long certain tasks actually take and how much time is being wasted needlessly.

Find your productivity zone

Perform important tasks at your most productive time. Early birds prefer the peace and quiet of morning time or maybe your mind is fresher in the afternoon. You could be a night owl, stewing over ideas by day and working late into the evening.

Take regular breaks

Breaks keep your mind fresh and help you focus – take the Pomodoro technique, for instance. You work in 25-minute work segments with 5-minute breaks between each period, with a longer break every four segments.

Limit your email access

Constantly checking your inbox can interrupt your train of thought. If possible, try looking at your email just twice a day – when you first arrive and again in the afternoon. When you’re done, close your mail until the next scheduled session.

Reduce meeting times

Meetings can be time consuming, so keep them short and on task. The best way to whizz through meetings is to have clear agenda items and a list of outcomes. Try stand up meetings, they normally take just 5–10 minutes. Attendees give a short status updates on what they’re working on and what’s slowing them down.

Avoid multitasking

Taking on more than one task at a time can harm productivity. Giving one task your full attention is likely to result in less errors – that means less tasks to revisit. Try setting a clock or timer for each task, allotting yourself a certain amount of time to help you concentrate.

Get a good night’s sleep

Keep to a regular bedtime schedule. Most people need between 6-10 hours of sleep for their bodies and minds to function optimally. Listen to your body, don’t try and wrangle out an extra few hours of mediocre work.

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