Time is money, so managing this valuable resource is good for your bottom line. Time is a finite resource, so you need to guard it well from people and events that waste it. Small business owners can be constantly confronted with small emergencies and social interruptions that can eat up their day. Meanwhile, more important goals and tasks get placed on the back burner.
The latest app or a new gadget can help, but only if you first decide on your purpose and what is worth focusing on at work.
The best first step is to know what your goals are. Be clear about where you want your business to be in 10 years, five years, next year, next month, and tomorrow. This will help you clear through the clutter of unnecessary demands on your time.
Decide what is important in helping you reach your goals, and concentrate on making progress toward them. Try to delegate, though this can be hard for a small business owner. Once you become clear on where your focus should be, you will find it easier to avoid time wasters.
Don’t put yourself at the mercy of others who will take minutes and hours out of your day. As a business owner, you, and no one else are responsible for how you spend your time.
That means you must develop the skill to say no. Be polite and be firm. Move to productive tasks if you see that what you are doing is not serving your goals.
Write out a schedule at the beginning of the day. Include what you must accomplish — the urgent, and what will bring you closer to your short-term and long-term goals — the important. Your schedule does not have to be minute-by-minute. It can be a simple to-do list with space for appointments and for tasks that support your goals.
Without a schedule, you will find yourself unnecessarily jumping from one fire to another. With a plan to refer to, you can spend quality time in a focused manner on each task. Moreover, the important doesn’t always get crowded out by the urgent.
How do you decide what is important? Use the 80/20 rule that says 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. It is the same concept that says that 80% of your money comes from 20% of your clients. So focus your attention on what produces money and results. Applied consistently, you will eliminate unproductive clients or tasks and increase results in the areas where you can gain the most.
Many small business owners started off wearing all hats. As they expanded, a staff was hired. However, it can be hard to transition from being the one doing the job to the one overseeing it done by others. The results are micromanaging and putting far too much time into tasks that others are being paid to do.
When you trust your employees, jobs get done routinely without your input or interference. Unless there is a major problem, let your employees get on with their jobs. Don’t waste your time getting involved in problems at the staff level that don’t require your input.
Facebook can be a time waster for a business owner just like it can be for an employee. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes every day for social media. Likewise for email: schedule time once or twice a day for answering it.
Focus your time and attention on the things that matter for your small business. Take a proactive stance when it comes to your time, and you will be far more productive.