Running a small business can be a juggling act. Entrepreneurs must make important decisions on the company’s future, without neglecting the more banal responsibilities of keeping on top of emails and accounts. Time management is essential to ensure no part of the business is ignored. Time Management is the creation of tools and processes that allow individuals and organisations to accomplish more in a set time. While time Management is critical to success for all individuals, it is of much more importance to entrepreneurs. This is because entrepreneurs are typically faced with tons of challenges each day and quickly compile massive “To Do” lists.
The first step in Time Management for entrepreneurs is to identify key uses of their time. For example, how much time are spent answering phone calls, having company meetings, traveling to meetings, doing research, managing your team etc. Here are some tips you can follow to make your time well spent:
Prioritise Tasks on a List There are so many diverse tasks that need to be completed daily that you are almost guaranteed to let something slip. Make a list and you are sure not to miss anything.
Keep a Diary By carefully planning your week with a diary or calendar will ensure you don’t miss anything important on your list. It can also help avoid wasting precious time and ensure you maintain a healthy work-life balance. You will find yourself needing to stay on top of things. Filling and sorting stuff periodically and steadily revising and improving your arrangement to fit your changing needs. Once it becomes a habit, you’ll just keep doing it automatically.
Delegate When you have the right people working with you, you worry less. To take some of the pressure off yourself, you must learn how to make the best use of your staff. Choose the simplest of the time-consuming tasks – those with a clear process, outcome and deadline – that you could assign comfortably to someone else. This will allow you to focus on those tasks which require your personal attention.
Take Advantage of New Technology Thanks to innovation in internet and mobile technology, entrepreneurs on the move can keep on top of work, whether they’re travelling abroad or working from home. Helpful apps and tools such as Skype, synching, calendar reminders, etc. are available at your fingertips – use them.
Meetings The busier you are the more people will demand your time. If you are invited to a meeting, ask for an agenda. If you learn that the meeting is about something that you are not suited for or is not in line with your business goals, then politely decline and suggest a person or company that may better suit their needs. By organising your meetings ahead of time, you will find them to be more effective and efficient. By having regular meetings on the same day and time each week works well for everyone. That way everyone is on the same page and it’s clear when projects and reports must be completed by.
Outsource If done correctly, outsourcing can save your business precious time and money. Outsourcing is most valuable for specialist or project-based tasks that are outside your core competencies, such as accounting, PR, graphic design and web development. For your business core competencies, it’s best to keep these in-house with staff you can rely on and who know your business inside out.
Every Minute Counts There is no excuse to simply waste time while waiting in an airport, stuck in traffic or parked in a reception room. Long waits can be best filled by responding to e-mails or working through documents. Make sure your laptop is always fully charged.
Remember to Focus Setting priorities is the first task. Once you know what matters most, the next critical thing is to focus on getting it done. Give your undivided attention to the task at hand whether it’s a meeting or an event. If you do not stay in the moment, you’ll miss something important and all your preparedness will mean nothing when you overlook a relevant detail. The benefits that come by way of a sense of fulfilment and satisfaction of moving towards the goals you set for yourself will energize and inspire you to keep going the next day, and then the next, until, before you even realise it, you’ve made substantial progress towards hitting your targets.
Effectiveness Trumps Efficiency Too many people focus on being efficient. Mere efficiency will not help you get closer to your goals. What matters more is that you are effective. What’s the difference? Efficiency is getting things done in a more streamlined manner, faster and with less effort and in a better way. Any small business owner will agree that time is money. Personal and financial success relies heavily on ability to manage your time effectively. Disciplined use of the time everybody else wastes can give you an edge. For most people, these minutes don’t matter. But they can. So, when you say to yourself “it’s only 10 minutes”, you miss the entire point of time.