This past week we discussed organizing your small business and organizing your office space. Now we want to talk about getting you organized with some time management tips and strategies.
For small business owners who find themselves wearing many different hats and performing various jobs and tasks within a single business day, time management skills and techniques are very important to staying productive and organized. ‘Unlearning’ bad time management habits can be harder than leaning new productive ways of managing the time you have in your office space.
Forget about how you spend your day in a frenzy of activity and then wonder why you haven’t accomplished much. Realize that time is not the problem, you likely are! Small business owners and entrepreneurs often talk about not having enough time. Rather than focusing on that, they should think about what they do have enough time for. By planning, talking or thinking about what they can accomplish, much more will get done.
Small business owners have to look at themselves and find out where they are wasting time. This means identifying your time bandits such as personal phone calls, surfing the web blindly, checking emails too often or taking too many out-of-office breaks to get that next cup of coffee. The first step in managing your time is to track your daily activities to get an idea of how your time is actually spent.
Set specific time-management goals for eliminating or reducing your personal time wasters. Maybe set goals or let personal calls go to your voice mail or do not check personal emails until a scheduled break from working. Track your progress over time and make sure that you are keeping to your time-management goals.
As a small business owner, you should get into the habit of switching off instant email notifications whenever you can, even if it means not getting email notifications for 15 or 30 minutes at a time. You can even use email filtering so that you are only alerted to emails from specific people or messages that contain certain subjects or key words. Emails about news for your favorite sports team or from someone in the office space down the hall who wants to go for a drink after hours, can wait until you take a scheduled email checking time.
The same concept about scheduling email time should apply if you’re using social media for business. Try to schedule most of your postings and updates and try to plan the best times for you to interact with your audience. Remember that just because you are connected by social media does not mean you have to be there all the time.
If you’re doing tasks like updating social media, following up on emails or conducting internet searches (where you’re most likely to get distracted and spend longer than you intended), consider setting a timer and either limit or pay attention to the time you are spending on these tasks. One of the first steps to managing your time is to know how it is being used now, and planning how you’re going to spend your time in the future.
When working to tight deadlines, leave yourself plenty of time. Set your own personal deadline in advance of the actual deadline to prevent yourself from procrastinating. By leaving time to plan and deliver well in advance, you can reward yourself with personal time. End your working day at a specific set time. Avoid letting work time creep into your evenings. This may make you less productive the next day. You should also consider having two end-of-day times – one for an ideal working day, and one with the latest possible time that you should work.
When it comes to your time, ask who are the people that take it up. Remember to value your business time – and other people will do the same. If you let others waste your time, they will not understand the boundaries of your time at your small business office. Remind family and friends that you are working and that you will be happy to socialize and chat outside of your set business hours. Your time is money and if they do not respect that, maybe you should send them an invoice for the time that they took you away from working.