With it comes to running a business, time is a precious resource that you must adequately manage to make the most out of it. Being your own boss certainly comes with a lot of benefits, but it also comes with a lot of responsibilities. As an owner, you probably have a never-ending to-do list that consists of tasks ranging from accounting to marketing. Some people take on these tasks with focus and purpose, while others get stressed and overwhelmed.
If you find that you’re one of the people who gets stressed, don’t worry. By implementing time management techniques, you can maximize your time, work more efficiently and productively, and remain relatively stress-free. The following time management tips can help to ensure that you get work done while in the office so that you can focus on your home-life when the day is done.
1. Learn to say no
As a boss, you may be overwhelmed by employee requests. You must learn to say no when necessary.
Being a boss puts you in a position where you often will feel obligated to take on tasks when asked. However, you have to learn to say no when necessary so that you can focus on more important and urgent tasks. If you find that you’re working on a project that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, know that it’s okay to move on to more productive tasks. Rather than wasting time, be firm when needed both with yourself and your employees.
If necessary, invest in scheduling software that will help you focus on tasks by blocking out time for specific projects. Give management access to this calendar, so they know when not to disturb you.
2. Learn to delegate
Delegation is a key aspect of time management and can be beneficial for both you and your employees.
One of the more essential management tools that are available to you is the power to delegate when needed. Rather than getting overwhelmed by day-to-day operations, allow your talented and dedicated to employees to take on these tasks. Doing so will enable you to focus on the big picture and the future of your business.
This is another excellent situation where scheduling software can be useful. You can create schedules for your employees so they know which daily tasks they should be working on. You can even delegate the scheduling task to management – freeing up your time to focus on more critical aspects of your business.
3. Goal setting
Without goals, you will have no clear path to meet your business objectives.
Setting goals is a crucial aspect of any good time management strategy. By outlining both your short-term and long-term business goals, you can set terms that are attainable and clear. Goal setting also helps to ensure that you’re focusing on the tasks and projects you need to be. If your main goal is simply to grow your business, you might become stressed and not know where to begin. Breaking your goals down into long-term and short-term allows you to manage your expectations and can help you stay on track.
If you find yourself stuck and not sure how to set these goals, you may want to consider using the SMART goals method. SMART stands for, “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.” SMART goals will provide precise, step-by-step tasks to help you stay on track and meet your objectives.
Here is a breakdown of each area of the SMART goal method:
- Specific: Your goal states precisely what needs to be achieved.
- Measurable: Your goal can be measured with a tool such as Google Analytics.
- Attainable: Your goal, while ambitious, should still be achievable.
- Relevant: This will vary depending on your business, but it should be relevant to your business needs.
- Timely: Your goal should have a due date that the goal should be completed by.
As an example, your SMART goal could be to increase traffic to your website from 2,500 to 5,000 unique visitors in three months.
Once you have set your SMART goal, you can break it down into smaller tasks so you can achieve the goal. Your daily workload should consist of working on these tasks – everything else you can consider a time-waster.
Prioritizing goals is another crucial aspect of time management and must be used to reach your objectives.
Now that you have your SMART goals set and have broken your goals into smaller tasks, it’s time to prioritize. The co-author of First Things First, Stephen Covey, offers actionable advice on how to complete your tasks with urgency. He says you should review the tasks at hand and place them into one of the following categories:
- Important and urgent: If you have a task that falls into this category, you know that it must be completed immediately. You should focus on completing these tasks before moving onto less important ones.
- Important but not urgent: Tasks that fall into this category you may deem as important, but can be completed at a later date if needed.
- Urgent but not important: These tasks may not have any significant impact on your overall business, but you may find take away from more critical tasks. This would include having to take a sales call or speaking with a supplier. If possible, you should focus on delegating these tasks.
- Not urgent and not important: These are low-priority tasks, such as completing non-critical paperwork. You can save these tasks for last.
It’s essential to keep track of your most important and urgent tasks and check them off your list once completed. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and can help to motivate you as you work down your list.
Scheduling software can help you prioritize your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. Decide how many days you should set aside to focus on specific tasks and adjust your schedule accordingly.
5. Plan ahead
Planning your work day ahead of time can help you to ensure you’re focused on your tasks and projects for the day.
This goes back to prioritizing – you must plan out the work you’ll do each day. Determining which tasks you’ll be working on each day will help you become more efficient and productive when you have clear objectives.
There are two different ways that you can plan your day.
- Plan the night before: At the end of your workday, take a few minutes to put together a list of the most important tasks to accomplish the following day.
- Plan first thing in the morning: You should arrive a few minutes early to work and create your daily to-do list.
By planning your day, you can focus on the tasks at hand, rather than jumping from one task to another – working smarter, not harder.
6. Use time tracking and scheduling software
Scheduling software is a great way to ensure you stay on task and meet your long and short-term goals.
Do you know how many minutes each week you are productive and focused? By using a time tracking solution along with scheduling software, you can determine how much time a single task can take. By taking advantage of a time tracking solution, you can punch in and out of tasks or projects, allowing you to see exactly how your time is spent.
7. Remove distractions
To help you stay on task, remove any unnecessary distractions.
As a business owner, you probably experience a lot of distractions – whether management needing help or receiving phone calls from suppliers. You may even distract yourself by continually checking your phone or email.
While it does take a bit of will-power, it’s essential to remove as many distractions as possible – even if this means secluding yourself in your office and turning off your phone. Rather than always being available, schedule time during the day precisely for answering emails, making phone calls, or speaking with your staff.
8. Don’t forget self-care
Your business can’t function properly if you, as the boss, are not in the best health possible.
Business owners often overlook the importance of taking care of themselves – whether it’s getting good sleep or exercise – self-care is crucial to keep you and your business growing.
Be sure to set aside free time each day so that you can spend time on the things and people that you love. Having a life outside of your business is critical for your mental health and can help you stay focused and passionate when it comes to your work.