How do small businesses like yours get it all done? One way is to regularly reflect on where you can save time. The small business time-management tips we shared last month were designed to add extra hours in your day. In Part 2 of this series, we have more of the best advice, tips, and ideas to help time-starved small business owners make the most of each day. Let’s get started:
Time Management Tips: Part 2
1—Prioritize. After identifying your most efficient work style and the tasks that need doing, prioritize them. There is no best way to do this. Pick the method that feels good to you, so you’ll stick with it—that’s the key.
Some people like to handle their top priorities first. Others prefer to create momentum by working on small tasks before turning to larger ones. That’s fine if you’re not procrastinating. However, focus on at least one revenue-generating activity every day.
Priorities often shift, so re-examine your priority list at least weekly.
2—Rely on technology. You can’t manage your time without technology. It enables you to automate tasks you shouldn’t spend too much time on, such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments, or paying bills.
There are apps and browser extensions galore that can help you. The specifics will vary based on your industry and needs. For project-management, tools such as Asana, Trello and Monday.com are good options.
For managing customer communications through text, many small business owners rely on Index by Pinger, which enables users to auto-reply to missed calls with a branded text, share calendar links for booking appointments, send links to collect payment, and more.
3—Make “me” time. Make an appointment with yourself and put it on your calendar. Use this time in two ways. First, during the “business me” time, think about long-term issues in your business, consider any short-term challenges, and create an attack plan.
During the “personal me” time, get away from work. Go to the gym, see a movie, or have lunch with friends. Carving out time for yourself is key to staying refreshed and recharged.
4—Meet less. Meetings—even Zoom meetings—are a double-edged sword. They’re often needed, but many small business owners are too reliant on them. Keep your meetings brief and to the point with an agenda. One idea is to have stand-up meetings. However, these make it difficult to take notes, and attendees are less likely to contribute because they want to sit down.
5—Just say “no.” Many small business owners are afraid to turn away business. But bad clients can sap your productivity, disrupt your day, and undermine your morale. Be sure it’s worth your while to work with clients who pay late or who make unreasonable demands.
Bonus Tip: Manage the Email Trap
Email can improve your productivity or draw you into a time-management sinkhole. Many time-management experts advise business owners to limit how often they check email to no more than six times a day. Also, add key clients and vendors to a VIP list, so you can see and respond to their emails first and leave the rest for later.
The Bottom Line
Time management skills are a must for small businesses. Managing your time is a work in progress, and flexibility is key. One young entrepreneur told me he’s been able to grow his business to $9 million by “constantly rearranging, reimagining, and reinventing” the 24 hours in his day.
The truth is this: You have as much time as everyone does. Using it effectively can help you get more done, in less time, and help your small business succeed. So, make time management a priority for 2023.
Rieva Lesonsky is an award-winning business journalist who has covered small businesses and entrepreneurship for over 30 years. She was the long-time editorial director at Entrepreneur magazine. Get more insights about business trends through her free Currents newsletter.