17 Time Management Strategies for Busy Small Business Owners
Wondering what they are? Keep reading to find some of our favorite tips on managing your time correctly in your hectic schedule. We’re sure you can find something that works for you even on the worst of busy days.
17 Time Management Strategies for Small Business Owners
Here are some of our favorite time management strategies:
1. Set a Schedule and Stick to It
Showing up to work every day without having a clear set of goals to complete and carry out through the day is not the greatest thing for your business. Being disorderly can result in inefficiency and become a waste of time.
So it’s best to assign different times to specific tasks based on your priorities. This can be done by setting fixed timings to get small jobs done throughout the day, or you can list the chores you need to do by the end of the day before you sign out of work.
Do whatever suits you best in your bid to manage your time effectively.
2. Automate Tasks
Although technology may make modern-day business owners even busier, it comes with many advantages and useful tools that can help lift tedious and annoying tasks off your hands.
Countless apps, online service providers, and programs can make challenging and tedious work easier to handle. For example, billing and account handling are one of the most important jobs in any business’s schedule, but they are also tiring and time-consuming.
However, by automating your billing and accounting processes, you can save time for other things like marketing and building on your strategies or even help yourself get off work early.
3. Set Time for Communication
The consistent and busy flow of the work environment can make it challenging to get ideas across to the next person. This can affect the quality of your teamwork, and the projects you work on may become challenging to finish.
So, setting aside time during the day or even throughout the week is beneficial for communicating ideas to your staff and clients. Francesco Cirillo’s “Pomodoro technique” works wonders during this time.
The technique involves dividing your work time into bursts of effort and rest. For example, you set a timer for 25 minutes and put all your time and effort into a single task until the alarm goes off. Then you sit back and take a 5-minute break before resetting the 25-minute timer and dedicating yourself to the task at hand.
Cirillo’s Pomodoro technique is excellent for people who have trouble focusing on a single project at a time.
4. Cut Out Meetings
Let’s rip off the band-aid quickly: most meetings are useless because they go over things most employees already know or take up time that could be better spent on other activities. So, another excellent way to boost your workplace productivity is by cutting useless meetings and clearing agendas to ensure that important or necessary meetings are on track.
You should also limit the attendance of the employees present at the meeting and keep it small to just those directly involved or essential to the matter. Many professionals have found that just a quick call, message, email, or another online communication method works just as well.
Here are some ways to set meetings to make them productive instead of time-consuming and disruptive:
- Check if the problem can be handled through direct contact with select few people.
- Limit meetings to people who are directly involved.
- Cut out meetings during certain times or days to allow more free time for productive thinking and less interruption.
5. Create a Balance
A study in McKinsey Quarterly revealed that most managers who aren’t satisfied with their skills and time management all had one big issue: they all had no balance. They spent too much time managing employees, networking, and handling problems. Plus, they didn’t give enough attention to essential business aspects, which made their efforts worthless.
So, pay attention to every task to ensure your business runs smoothly. This means dividing your tasks into sections and creating a schedule allowing you to review them in a week.
6. Find Projects to Reach Your Goals
Many businesses need work and are willing to accept any projects to get their next pay. Of course, working on all kinds of projects is crucial to make your work skills and company qualifications more versatile, but giving priority to any random task won’t help you climb up the ladder and is not the best use of your time.
Try to find projects that help you reach your goal and give them top priority to help your business reach its goal. This can include financial and generalized goals for your company’s future growth and improvement.
7. Use the 80/20 Rule
The 80/20 rule, also referred to as the “Pareto Principle,” is one of the most well-known and helpful concepts in time management.
The rule states that 20% of your efforts will produce 80% of the results you see. What does this mean? The key to following and applying this concept of time management is to identify the tasks in your top priorities or top 20%.
To make this method work, you must first resist the urge and temptation to clear up all your smaller tasks. Starting your day off by choosing to complete tasks with higher business value will help you build a habit of taking care of more vital tasks first.
Here are some benefits of using the 80/20 principle in your professional life:
- Increased productivity
- Efficient use of available resources
- Improvement in problem-solving areas
- Enhanced decision-making skills.
8. Get Proper Rest
As tempting as pulling an all-nighter to create solutions for most problems may seem, it is vital to take care of yourself.
Yes, it is crucial to work hard. It’s easy to let your business take over your brain, leaving you unable to think about anything else.
However, if you let yourself give in and pay no mind to your physical and mental health, it will only cause more problems. You can’t expect to create your ideal business when you can’t be healthy enough to show your best every day.
So, care for yourself. Both you and your workload will benefit from it.
9. Utilize the Covey Time Management Matrix
One of the simplest and most effective time management models is the “Covey Time Management Matrix.” Created by Steve Covey, the author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” the matrix is based on four very simple and easily applicable quadrants:
- Urgent and Important
- Not urgent, but important
- Urgent but not important
- Not urgent and not important.
Divide all of your tasks into these four sections throughout the week, quickly take care of and prioritize the first section, then move on to the next, and so on. It is the easiest and best way to prioritize your tasks.
10. Try Time Blocking
Time blocking is a technique that small business owners find more helpful in catering to their needs. The main idea of time blocking is that by turning your attention and energy to each task, you tend to be more dedicated and finish it faster and to a higher standard than giving small amounts of energy spread throughout the day.
You don’t necessarily have to do the most critical things on the list first thing in the morning. Everyone functions differently and has their own system. Assign your most important tasks to the time of the day when you work best, and you’ll be more productive.
If you know you’re a morning person, do your work first thing. The late afternoon might be your ideal work period if you are more active during the night.
As most people tend to feel sleepy after lunch, spend that time on low-priority tasks you need to get done.
11. Separate the Day From the Week
A planned work schedule is the backbone of business success because it provides a proper structure for you to work off of.
Segregating your tasks further according to the days of the week and even the time of each day is also effective for time management. It helps your mind resist worrying about all the work piling up.
Here are some examples of how you can divide your day from the week:
- Mondays for sales, Tuesdays for billing, and so on.
- Mornings for emails and calls, evenings for strategizing and fulfilling orders.
12. Implement Record Keeping
Being on top of your projects and what you have to do can help you make better decisions and allow you to find information faster. No matter what the subject of the area may be, knowing and having accurate information is necessary.
Of course, you are not expected to know everything on command or have it ready to tell at any given moment, but you would be pleased to know just how much time you can save when you know what to find and where to find the information about it as your needs be.
One of the major benefits of record keeping that people often overlook is that you also get to keep a record of what you did that was successful and the things that caused your business harm. Having this kind of important information at hand can save loads of time by preventing similar accidents from occurring.
In addition, if you have repeated projects and tasks, instead of doing them all from scratch, going back and looking at the same type of projects can help you complete the next ones faster and more improved, providing a better project plan. This also enhances other time management skills, such as self-awareness, focusing, decision-making, etc.
13. Have Some Patience
Most of the time, people think that time management refers to getting your work done at a faster pace. This is not true. Time management makes sure your productivity level increases. It focuses on ensuring that your work is important and is from your list of top priorities.
However, multitasking is not the greatest approach to time management because focusing on more than one thing can lead to more mistakes. And the time you spend fixing those mistakes takes more time than initially planned.
So, instead of thinking you’re going to do twenty things at once, try to focus on one or two things. Be patient. Success will come your way, even if it feels like you’re the slowest person in the world.
14. Stick to “One” System
While worrying about wasting too much time, it may be easy for you to start making multiple systems for all your tasks everywhere separately. This may be doing you more harm than good. If you have things to do and use multiple systems to organize your schedule, you only make it difficult to focus on what you want to do.
So, instead of using sticky notes, spreadsheets, and apps to track your schedule, focus on using one system. It’ll help you save time, provide essential information without investing hours in research, and keep you on track.
15. Expect the Unexpected
Expecting the unexpected. What does that mean? Well, your perfect schedule will inevitably get a dent or two once in a while. For example:
- Your boss may ask you to take care of an urgent task suddenly.
- A bigger problem with a client may pop up and require your full attention.
- A client may suddenly show up, and you may have to deal with them.
So, instead of thinking nothing will happen and reacting to problems in real-time, plan for potential problems beforehand. You’ll save time and money.
16. Filter Information
We are bombarded by information every day. But most of that information is irrelevant. You don’t need to know about a new SEO technique if you work in finance. Similarly, you shouldn’t have to read a whole credit report to find a single entry.
So, filter out the useless information that comes to you during the day as you work, save time, and spend it on more worthwhile things. Here’s how to do that:
- Put alerts on relevant topics.
- Establish filters to separate unimportant emails.
- Hire an assistant to forward important mail to you.
17. Eat the Frog
This time management method is named after Mark Twain’s quote: “Eat a live frog the first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
Basically, it means doing the tasks you dread first and getting them done and over with. For example, if you dread going over the financial statements for Q3, look over them before you do anything else. This will put you at ease for the rest of the day, knowing that the tasks you want to avoid have been dealt with.
Choose a Method That Works for You
There are more than a dozen ways to begin managing your busy schedule, but choosing the best method for you can be challenging. If that’s you, remember that you don’t have to try every method at once.
Select a method that you find interesting, use it in your daily business life, and check if it works. If it works, good for you. Your search has ended. But if it doesn’t work as you imagined, you can move on to another time management method.
It’s that easy.
Finding a time management method that works for you is a process of trial and error. You’ll probably have to go through several methods before you find the one you’re comfortable with. But once you do, the rewards are going to be worth it.