Managing your time is just as important as managing all the other aspects of your business. Time is a precious and scarce commodity for every small business owner. So, why are so few of us good at managing that commodity? It probably comes down to the way your small business began.
If your business started life as a one-person operation, you had to be self-reliant. Anything that needed to be done, had to be done by you because there was no-one to delegate to. At the beginning of any new enterprise, all actions are urgent. That meant that you needed to get everything done immediately, all at once, and probably managed it by sheer effort. Doing it all yourself became a way of life.
Now your business has grown enough for you to become an employer. Step back and take a look at how you are operating now. Are you still trying to do everything yourself? This is a common mistake and can lead a small business owner to burn out too quickly. Managing your time properly is one answer. Here are a few common-sense tips.
Managing your time starts with planning
Start the day with a planning session. Set out what you hope to achieve during the day. Set some priorities and deadlines. The things you must achieve are highest priority. Things you would like to achieve can be a little lower priority. If you don’t have a plan and stick to it, you will use up all your energy on tackling the first problem that hits you. Firefighting can be fun. However, if you’re wielding the extinguisher, who’s growing and developing your business?
Leave yourself some leeway
A day with back-to-back meetings and appointments will never run to time. There will always be unexpected events and interruptions. People will be late. The phone will ring and there will be emails that demand your attention. Your plan must include some contingency and some breathing space.
Take time before any appointment to prepare properly, so you are clear about what the session is meant to achieve. Ensure all meetings have an agenda, and they run to time as far as possible. Pointless and poorly run meetings are one of the major avoidable wastes of your time.
If you’re working at your desk, disconnect your email and social media unless they are essential to your work. Switch off your phone, leave it on silent or let it ring and don’t answer it. Make it easy for people to leave you a message. Make yourself a rule that you will check for contacts every hour or half hour (whatever is appropriate to you) and stick to it.
If you’re in an open office, devise a ‘do not disturb’ method that works for you. Some people hang up a sign or put up a flag. Wear headphones if there is too much background noise. If all else fails, go and work somewhere out of sight of everyone else.
Delegate, outsource and automate
This is something that almost all entrepreneurs struggle with. It comes from the hands-on self-reliant approach we mentioned in the introduction. However, there are some tasks that you really shouldn’t be doing yourself, no matter how much you enjoy them. Only you will know which tasks they are, so seek them out.
Analyse your workload. Can any of the tasks be handed to competent employees? The key word here is ‘competent’. Managing your time by delegation is hard to achieve, and it takes time to make yourself some time. You need to spend precious time and effort up front ensuring that whoever takes on the task is able to do it properly. If you don’t take that time, and just throw the task over the fence, the person on the other side may fail to catch it.
Look for any tasks that could actually be outsourced or automated to free up your resources. Examples can often be found within back office functions such as HR, finance and IT processes. If this is an area where you need help, there are experts available who can do the relevant analysis and make recommendations to make managing your time simpler.
For more information on outsourcing and automation of processes, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form below and we will get back to you.