Top 12 Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Library | 2/9/2021
Women in business

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When you own your own business, you may have to wear many different hats; it can feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed out, try these time management tips to help you stay on track, be more productive and efficient and make your workload more manageable.

1.  Make a weekly plan 
Plan what you can. Business owners often face the unexpected – issues pop up that must be addressed immediately, fires need to be put out. With that in mind, create a plan for each week that accounts for important deadlines, key things that need to be accomplished, etc. For example, if you have something due on Wednesday, be sure to try to dedicate the first half of the week to getting that task done and set aside administrative tasks, calls or meetings until the end of the week.

2.  Make a daily plan 
Likewise, you should have a daily schedule to structure your workday. You may want to use an online calendar app with reminders to help you stay on track. Remember that you can use your calendar for more than appointments, meetings, or calls. You can also block out time for specific tasks, breaks, etc. However, don’t plan out every hour of the day. You will need some space to be flexible if unanticipated things come up (and they will).

3.  Have a (brief) to-do list
A to-do list is a vital part of your daily plan, but a long list of to-dos can set you up for failure. Organize a prioritized list of the things you must accomplish that day; experts suggest you keep that list to between 3 – 6 items. Do what is manageable for you and feel the satisfaction of checking off those items one by one.

4.  Sort and perform tasks by type
To work at optimum efficiency, try to group your tasks into type and do all similar tasks at once. For example, do all your invoicing at the same time – this gets you into a groove and you don’t have to keep going in and out of your accounting software.

5.  Use time blocking
Block off time on your calendar for specific tasks on your to-do list according to how you work best. For example, if you do your best work in the morning, block off morning hours for more complicated or challenging work. If you feel that afternoon slump and are less engaged, block off afternoon hours for easier administrative tasks or things that don’t require as much focus.

6. Identify and plan for deep work
Sometimes you may have a big proposal to put together or some other large project that requires you to just buckle down and get it done. Don’t put these projects off.  Block off more time than you think you will need to get it done, close your office door, set your email to auto reply and instant messenger to Do Not Disturb. Then, just do it!

7. Try to avoid distractions
Distractions or interruptions are inevitable. Understand all your planning and scheduling is not written in stone – you will have to be flexible and adjust accordingly. Still, control what distractions you can. Close all those extra tabs on your internet browser, avoid social media, silence your phone when you are in work mode and consider putting on headphones if you are working in a distracting environment.

8. Work smarter, not harder
It can be difficult to produce quality work when you are overwhelmed by the quantity of work. It’s good to be busy, but if you are too busy to do your job well, you need to find relief. Try to focus on one thing at a time and look for ways to lighten your load.

9. Delegate what you can
Small business owners often feel like they must do everything themselves, but they shouldn’t. Do what you are best at and find ways to delegate the rest. For example, if you don’t have a good grasp of numbers, hire a bookkeeper or an accountant to help you. The time you save yourself and the money an expert can save you will likely more than cover the cost of the hire.

8. Take breaks
Avoid burnout and exhaustion by making it a priority to take care of yourself every day. Schedule breaks on your calendar and take a walk around the block, meditate or even take a quick nap. Restore and recharge and you will go back to work more refreshed and productive.

9. Optimize your office space
Wherever you are working, be sure to have a private workspace carved out for yourself (ideally with a door), and keep that space clean, uncluttered and organized so you can easily find what you need when you need it. Make sure the things you use most are readily accessible.

10. Automate what you can
Are there any manual processes that you can automate to help save you time? If you are constantly interrupted with phone calls, consider setting up a voicemail system. Get meeting reminders from your calendar. If you have a lot of customer service questions from your website, consider installing a chat bot. Look for automated solutions for menial tasks that eat up your day.

At  Valley, we’re committed to helping small business owners with the financial services,  SBA loans, networking support, and resources they need to succeed. Visit our website or contact us to learn more.

Valley Women in Business
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Valley Women in Business

Valley's Women in Business program connects and empowers professional women. From entrepreneurs, to executives; we provide networking and educational opportunities that enrich the professional lives of women at every stage of their career.