Life for a business owner is hectic. You’ve only got 24 hours, yet you’ve got a thousand and one things to do.
Time management is even more of a challenge if you’re a home-based business owner exposed to the distractions at home. There’s the television and bed, errands to run for the family, and friends dropping by to chat. Even more so when you’re working solo and you’ve got kids.
The biggest difficulty, however, is when you’re a small business owner who needs to do most, if not all of the work, yourself. During the course of a day, you create your products or perform your services, market your business, meet or chat on the phone with prospective clients, package and ship your products, do social media networking on Facebook or Twitter, put your bookkeeping entries for the day, and even file paperwork.
There are so many things to do with so little time. The only way you can be productive and get things done is to be efficient with the way you manage time. Here are strategies to manage your time:
Identify your most valuable activities. Make a list of what you do each day and how much time you dedicate on it. Then identify your most valuable activities, or those that you do that are worth the most per hour, generate the most revenues for the business, and would be most difficult to replace. If you are a blogger, for example, your most valuable activities can include writing your blog posts and connecting with newsmakers in your industry. Once you’ve identified these activities, look at your schedule again and make sure that you allocate enough time to do the tasks and activities that bring you the most money.
Recognize that you will need a buffer sometimes. Avoid over scheduling. There will be days when an unexpected development, emergency or distraction will come that will throw your schedule off balanced. It will push back your to-do list for the day, which can add to your frustration and stress. When deciding your schedule for the day, try to under schedule, instead of over scheduling your day. This will also allow you to have some extra time for yourself, or for some activities that you need to focus on that day.
To the extent possible, avoid multitasking. There are instances when multitasking may be acceptable, such as arranging files while waiting for a client to come or call. Generally, however, multitasking or the constant switching between tasks is not the most efficient way to get things done. Doing so cuts off your concentration and focus, and a task that could be finished in an hour ends up being finished in two hours. When you are writing a report, for example, then starts responding to emails, you lose your train of thought and it may take a while before you can get back your focus. You end up wasting more time and becoming less efficient in the way you manage your time.
Develop a system for managing your time. Find the best way to do things based on the type of business you have and your personal preferences. One way would be to group together similar activities and allocate a block of time for tasks such as answering emails, making phone calls and meeting clients. For example, if you are a website designer, you can create your mockup designs in the morning, and then schedule meetings and videoconferencing with various clients in the afternoon. If you are an eBay seller, you can schedule scanning or photographing your items in the morning, writing your listings in the afternoon and posting them on eBay. By having a system in place, you are able to ensure that you have enough time for your most valuable activities while meeting the needs of your business.