Time Management: 6 Tips and Quotes for Small Business Owners
Running a company is a tall task. As an entrepreneur, you might sometimes feel that there is not enough time in the day to accomplish everything on your list. However, a proper outlook and strategic approach to time management can make a world of difference in your busy life.
Recognize and Prioritize Your Responsibilities
“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of believing that efficiency is all about staying occupied, but that is not always the case. Before you can properly manage your time, it is important to know what occupies your schedule. Maintaining a thorough and up-to-date work calendar (either physical or digital) only requires a small investment of time and will keep you from missing appointments, assignments, and deadlines.
Another element of time management is prioritization. Some tasks may require more time or effort than others, and not all tasks are equally urgent. Aside from urgency, another way to prioritize tasks is to ask yourself if you are spending time on work that will encourage stability and growth in your business.
Track Your Time
“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” – Golda Meir
Task prioritization is also affected by how much time it takes to complete each task. Give yourself adequate time on your calendar to switch between assignments or to accommodate any unexpected occurrences.
If you are organizing your business schedule but do not know how much time to set aside for calendar events, you would benefit from timekeeping. There are online options for timekeeping software, which can be particularly useful when applied to employee payroll and client billing.
“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin
Entrepreneurs must learn how to manage themselves. While technology can expedite and simplify countless office tasks, it is also notorious for diverting attention away from work. Designate appropriate times to check your personal email, text messages, and voicemails throughout the day.
Distractions are not limited to spending time on your phone or entertainment websites – you could unknowingly distract yourself by spending time on nonessential functions while important assignments are pending completion. Keeping an organized workspace can also streamline productivity in that you save time looking for documents and can approach duties with a clear mind.
Find the Right Routine
“The most efficient way to live reasonably is every morning to make a plan of one’s day and every night to examine the results obtained.” – Alexis Carrel
An ideal routine is found through self-reflection. As an entrepreneur, you have already succeeded in acknowledging your will to run a business. Establishing a routine is a vital part of your business plan.
Considering your industry, target audience, and the demand for your product or service, your hours of operation and activity schedule can vary significantly. You may find that you are more productive performing clerical work early in the day, or that you prefer to take appointments in the afternoon. In any event, being consistent with your availability is key to attracting business and getting work done.
This is not to say that there is only one routine that works for you. You may need to make adjustments as your business undergoes changes, such as hiring new employees and expanding operations.
“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop.” – Ovid
Take a moment to think about what you need to accomplish in a day, week, or month. If you have a heavy workload, are you giving yourself enough time to recuperate?
Small business owners are known to wear many hats. In the early stages of a business, you may have to perform accounting, human resources, and marketing, among other responsibilities. Keeping a running list of all of the tasks you perform can come in handy if you ultimately employ someone to fill these roles. Be deliberate with your energy and do not be afraid to delegate tasks and assignments when necessary. Ignoring your need for downtime may hinder your business in the long term.
Set Realistic Goals
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” – Abraham Lincoln
Lasting change is incremental. You are in a position to take small steps toward improvement and to learn about yourself along the way. Start with simple goals, such as organizing office files or completing items on a to-do list. If you do not meet your time management goals right away, do not be discouraged.