Top 5 Time Management Solutions for Business Owners
As a small business owner, time is your most valuable asset. In this post, we share the top five time management problems and the simple fixes that can go a long way in boosting your productivity.
1. The Problem: You Lack Boundaries
A lack of boundaries is something nearly every entrepreneur struggles with, especially those who run their business from home. A lack of boundaries reflects having too many roles within the company, too many demands, and too many conflicting priorities. If you work from home your work life is probably mixed with your home life which is a great way to get all but nothing accomplished. The fact is, boundaries need to be put in place to separate the different parts of your life because if you don’t, you’ll end up wasting much of your day.
The Solution: Create Physical and Mental Boundaries
Have set time periods in which you dedicate all your time to one aspect of your life. For instance, you can dedicate specific office hours in which you don’t answer non-work related phone calls, you don’t answer the doorbell, and you don’t do non-work related tasks such as housework. Then, have a set time where you do things such as family-time,
chores, shopping, etc. During this time, you do not do any work-related tasks.
This creates a definitive split between your work and the rest of your life; it also helps clients, family, and friends know when you are available and when you’re not.
Having a dedicated space to your work also helps create a boundary between work and home life. A workspace allows you to focus all your attention on one task and forms a physical barrier that lets you and others know when you are working and when you are not.
2. The Problem: You Have Too Many Distractions
You’re trying to get work done, but there are too many distractions taking your mind off the task at hand. You get emails, social media notifications, phone calls, you get sidetracked on the internet, etc. Or you are trying to do multiple tasks at once, and as a result, don’t complete any of them; it happens to all of us, but it is a huge time drain.
The Solution: Stop Multitasking and Create a Schedule
The first step to eliminating distractions is to stop multi-tasking. You may think you’re a great multi-tasker, but odds are you’re not. Only 2% of the population are productive multitaskers, and multitasking decreases our productivity by about 37%, which means you’re not giving your best effort or work into any of the jobs you are doing. See a Ted Talk on "monotasking" here.
The second step is to create a schedule. If you are constantly getting distracted by another email or another phone call, create a schedule so you know when you will be doing those tasks. For example, from 9 to 10 you make and answer calls, then from 10 to 11 you respond to emails, and from 11 to 12 you work on a different managerial task, etc. You can even schedule in a few minutes to allow yourself to do things such as check your social media or have a break to read the news.
The Pomodoro Technique is a great way to manage your time if you are easily distracted. Decide on the task you are to complete, set a timer for 25 minutes and do
nothing except that task for that period. Once the timer goes off, you allow yourself a 3-5-minute break to rest and regroup, then set the time for another 25 minutes. And if you still find yourself getting distracted after all this try downloading apps like SelfControl that limit your ability to visit social media, mail servers, or any other site that is distracting you.
3. The Problem: You’re Doing it all Yourself
As a small business owner, you often have many different roles within the company; you’re the CEO, the visionary, but you’re alsothe customer service representative, the operations manager, and many other roles that are important, but are a huge time drain. Solely managing your business is a standard way to start; however, often what we forget is to move away from that and begin to delegate, automate, or outsource those jobs so we can focus our talents on the bigger picture of the company.
You may be thinking that doing it all yourself is a way to save money, but it isn’t. You’re wasting time doing tasks that others could do just as well, or even better than you. Reducing the number of jobs you have at hand frees up time for you to grow your business and earn more money. If you’re doing it all yourself, you’re doing your company and yourself a disservice.
The Solution: Learn When to Delegate and Outsource
Write down each task that you currently do for your business, and on that list, there will be two to five tasks that you don’t need to be doing. The top five tasks that can be delegated and outsourced are:
1. Social Media
Social media has boomed in the recent years, and it is an excellent resource for businesses; however, running a social media campaign is also very time-consuming. Therefore, many small business owners choose to outsource social media marketing. Outsourcing, to a company such as SocialWithin, allows you to free up your schedule and delegate the task to someone who knows the ins and outs of social media marketing, as well as the right platforms to engage your customers.
2. Website Creation
Your business’s website is incredibly important and building a site that is impressive and meets the needs of the consumer is not only a hard task, but one that is guaranteed to be a time sink. It only takes about 50 milliseconds for users to form an opinion about your website which determines whether they’ll stay or leave. Additionally, it was found that 94% of negative website feedback was design related, emphasizing the importance of a well-developed webpage. Hiring a website developer ensures your website will be frequently updated, effective, attractive, and full of useful content.
3. Email Management
Every small business owner knows email can use a large chunk of your time – which is why email management is a smart task to delegate. An employee who you’ve delegated the responsibility can reply to emails on your behalf, categorize emails by importance, remove unimportant emails, and more.
4. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to ensure your company website is getting views. Unless you are educated in the field of SEO, this one is a no-brainer to outsource. SEO techniques are ever-changing, so it’s worth the money to invest in an expert to boost your company’s search rankings.
5. Competitor and Audience Analyses
Knowing your competitors and audience is key to a successful business; however, identifying them and conducting ongoing analyses is time-consuming and a task that should be outsourced or delegated to save time and maximize marketing techniques.
4. The Problem: You’re Unorganized
Nothing is worse than showing up to work, having multiple tasks to complete, and not knowing where to start first. Not only does disorganization make you mismanage time, but it can also overwhelm you to the point of being unproductive.
The Solution: Create a Plan of Action and Prioritize Work
Jumping into the work day without a plan of action is guaranteed to make you feel overwhelmed and waste your time. At the beginning of your day layout every job that needs to be accomplished, then organize those jobs from most important to least important and work your way down.
Knowing how you work is another way to manage your
time effectively. If you know you’re most productive during the morning schedule a big task during that time, or if you know you’ll be tired after lunch schedule a less critical job then.
It’s also a good idea to set goals, both short-term, and long-term, so you know how to prioritize your day to day work. Organizing is not only about planning and prioritizing though, but having an organized workspace is also key to improving your productivity and time management.
5. The Problem: You Underestimate Your Time
Are you constantly running late? Do you often spend more time on work than you estimated? It might be because you’re underestimating the amount of time it takes to complete your work. And underestimating the time it takes you to complete a job can cause you to lose money and jeopardize other tasks that need to be completed.
The Solution: Learn Where Your Time is Going and Eliminate Unnecessary Tasks
First, calculate how much time you are using to complete jobs which will give you an idea of how much time to set aside for future projects. Apps such as Timely can track the time you spend on tasks so you know approximately how long you will need for the next time and it’s a great tool if you bill by the hour.
Second, look at what you wish to accomplish and see if there are any steps that you can eliminate or, as mentioned in tip three, delegate or outsource. Eliminating smaller unnecessary tasks frees up time for you to put to better use.
You can’t have more than 24 hours in a day, but you can learn to manage those 24 in a way that maximizes your time and your productivity.
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