Self Employed

Time management strategies

Lisa Steinmann

In a large organization, specialists focus on particular tasks. Small business owners are responsible for every aspect of their business. Time management is critical for small business owners to focus on tasks and stay focused.

How do I improve time management?

Improve time management by investigating your current use of time. Determine your current habits and adopt proven time-management techniques to maximize efficiency.

Start with the following steps:

Make time management a goal

  • It may seem obvious, but your short list of goals every day should include time management. Each day review how you’ve followed your schedule and used your time-management techniques. Over time, streamline and improve your methods.

Discover how you use your time now

  • Begin by logging all uses of your waking time for three days. Be brutal in your honesty. The list is for you: know your current use of time.

Identify rabbit holes

  • Rabbit holes are distracting activities that consume an inordinate amount of time. Maybe you can’t check current stock prices without investigating many stocks. It could be that Twitter is your downfall. Identify rabbit-hole-tasks that can derail your entire day.

Have your annual check-up

  • Hormones, heart problems, blood sugar issues, and iron deficiencies can affect performance. Some adults also have undiagnosed learning challenges like ADHD. A medical reason could cause focus problems, low energy levels, and insomnia.

How does time management help your business?

A small business owner, on a certain level, is their business. Everything about the business depends on the owner. When you are more efficient, every part of your business improves.

Time management’s benefits include:

  • Increased peace of mind
  • Improved organization
  • Focus on goals
  • Growth for your business

How do I manage time better?

Manage your time by improving your task management and focus.

Task management succeeds when you are able to maintain your focus.

Know that your focus is your most precious commodity. Guard it.

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Task Management

Choose a time management device to record your goals, tasks, and schedule

Select a method to help manage your time. If possible, choose a digital method like Microsoft To-Do . It can import and integrate data from different sources. Gathering contact information, important emails, schedules, etc. in one place saves time.

Game-based rewards motivate others who enjoy using apps like Forest. Beware of time managers that are phone-based. They may lead to unnecessary distractions.

Some prefer making written lists or using paper organizers.

Record your goals and tasks as daily, short-term and long-term goals

Know your long-term and short-term goals, but make daily tasks achievable. If your long-term goal is to build a pyramid, your daily tasks should be small steps. “Research the cost of limestone,” or “Investigate the zoning restrictions for pyramid building.”

Choose priority tasks each day

Select the first priority for each day and add two or three more. Do not overload your priority list or it becomes meaningless. Have other lists for emails, phone calls, and minor recurring tasks.

Start and end each day with your time manager

Take five minutes at the end of each day to determine the priority tasks for the next day. Begin each day reviewing your schedule and your priority task for that day.

Delegate, outsource and automate

Small business owners are notorious for wanting to control all details. Business owners must learn to delegate, outsource, and automate whenever possible. Keep tasks you enjoy, and those that inspire you on your task list. Let go of the rest.

Hire help at home too

If your business is thriving hire someone to mow your lawn, deliver dinner, and clean your house. There are people that can do these things as well as you can. Reward your hard work and make your time at home quality time.

Focus

Task management only succeeds when you are able to maintain focus.

Your focus is under attack at all times by both benevolent and calculated attempts to steal it. Celebrating an employee’s over-the-weekend engagement can derail Monday morning’s plans. Self-serving social media sites are distracting by design.

Clear your immediate work area

Your brain records everything in its line of sight. It distracts you, making it harder to focus. When you start a project, do so in a clean area.

Write down everything you need to remember

Don’t waste time or focus trying to remember birthdays, appointments, or names. Document it all. Take the pressure off yourself and don’t waste time looking for the information later. Don’t buy an expensive, time-wasting lunch to apologize for the phone call you forgot to make.

Do the task you dread first

If you hate a task, do it as soon as you can. Do it first thing in the morning, and early in the week. Dreaded tasks cause loss of focus due to procrastination. While completed dreaded tasks lead to a motivational sense of triumph.

What’s for lunch?

Can you imagine a topic that has wasted more time or focus in the history of any workplace? If you bring in lunch, choose a venue for each day of the week and stick to it. Also, write down what you want from each of those places so no one has to ask you for your order.

What works for you?

Some people are more productive in total silence or working with music. Some like shared office space, some need to be alone. It’s your business, do your work on your terms.

Experiment with your timing and techniques

  • Famous time-management techniques like Pomodoro suggest you work in a series of sprints. After each sprint of work, you take a break. This is very successful for some people.
  • Morning people might do better to work through their morning uninterrupted.
  • Night owls might not start until 10 pm when things are completely quiet.

Developing a system personalized for you is the key to successful time management.

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