Getting the most from the business week: Effective Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners
Post published 6th May, 2014
This time of year it seems as though there is always a bank holiday. This is great in lots of ways, being able to spend more time with family and friends, having another lie in, perhaps the chance to go away somewhere that you can’t normally get to in a two day weekend.
However, alongside that for small business owners this can sometimes be a time when you either need to cram five days’ work in to four, or maybe even spend your bank holiday working when it seems as though everyone else is off enjoying themselves.
Time Management for Busy Business Owners
Today, at the start of one such four day week I am going to give you some time management tips to help you work more efficiently, get more achieved within the working day and hopefully be able to switch off out of hours.
- Write a To Do List. The most fundamental tip for any sort of time management is not a new one, but a surprising amount of people don’t do it. It sounds crazy but writing an effective To Do List is probably a blog post in itself, but today I will just cover this quickly so that I can mention other time management tips too. Start by writing a complete list of everything that needs to be done. For the purposes of this post I’ll assume that this is a weekly to do list, so everything that needs to get done this week. Look at every single item on the list and question why it is on there. Be ruthless – get rid of anything that shouldn’t be there. One of the main advantages of a To Do List is that it will keep you focussed on your priorities and not let you drift on to other less important, or perhaps easier or more enjoyable tasks. What is important? Anything to do with sales or marketing or customer service is your biggest priority and should always be given more weight over other list items.
- Don’t jump straight away when an email comes in. Allocate two or three set times a day to check your emails, and don’t look at your emails at any other times. Deal with any emails there and then, if possible action as soon as you look at them rather than going back to them later, which increases the time spent on a particular task. This saves a considerable amount of time throughout the day and helps you process emails a lot more efficiently as you get in to a rhythm of completing similar tasks together.
- Be available, but don’t answer every phone call when it comes in. We’ve probably all had one of those times when we’ve been working on something that takes concentration that we absolutely need to get finished, whether it’s completing a tender, getting some important information to a client, or maybe trying to write an advert for your business. Whatever it might be, we’ve probably all had a time when we’re getting along nicely with the task in hand, when all of a sudden the phone rings. You answer the phone, deal with that call and go back to your previous task, only you find that your concentration has gone. The sentences that you were forming in your mind have vanished from your thoughts and nothing else that you come up with seems as good. We’ve all done it. This is not to say that the phone should be left, (read my earlier blog post on customer service to get ideas on how you can leave the phone but not miss any business). Then do as you do for emails, make your calls at set times of the day. This not only keeps you focussed on getting tasks completed it also ensures that you keep conversations succinct if you know that you only have two hours for example to make all of your phonecalls.
- Reduce your travel time. Depending on where you live and work you might find that if you were to work from home just one day per week that could save you time that day travelling to and from the office, which could be spent working through your To Do List. If you spend time during your working week on the road or attending different meetings, perhaps going out to give quotes try blocking this time together too. It goes without saying that wherever possible you should try to allocate appointments in similar geographic areas to both save on travel costs and reduce travel time.
- Track your time. If you wonder where your time goes try keeping a diary for a week of exactly how much time you spend on each task, include everything. You may find some surprising results at the end of the week. Free online tools such as www.toggl.com are great for this.
Good luck with getting more from your business day.
Have any tips of your own to add? Please share them below with us and our readers.