As a small business owner and/or entrepreneur, you may have started to realize that the most valuable resource to you is your TIME. The only limit on our productivity, on our ability to create and our ability to pull in income, is how much we can get done each day. What this means is that we need to ensure that our prices are high enough to make up for the rest of the time we spent marketing, bookkeeping, and (in the case of writers like me or other creatives) also brainstorming, and it also means that we need to be making the most of the time we have.
What are some solutions to this issue of needing more time?
1) Increase Productivity: There are so many books and blogs out there about increasing productivity, but my advice is to figure out what works best for YOU. What works best for ME is starting my morning out by focusing on non-work things that will help me to feel good for the rest of the day (exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, and reading). Then I work in 90-minute intervals, taking a break to walk around or change my scenery before sitting down for another session. When I do this I find I don’t end up in a “zombie state” after overworking myself.
2) Set Priorities: Each night, either when “clocking out” or before you go to bed, set your to-do list and agenda for the next day. Stick to this list. It is tempting to backburner tasks for new emails that come in during the day or phone calls that come in, but you have to be realistic and realize that giving your time to these new demands only puts you behind. Check your emails only two or three times a day, at designated times, and focus on your predetermined tasks for the rest of the day.
3) Outsource: There are many options to fit what you need, from high-quality virtual assistants and bookkeepers, to freelancers on oDesk, and all the way down to the $5 deals on Fiverr. There is no excuse for you to have to sit down and teach yourself a whole new skill that takes your time away from what you are really good at.
4) Technology: Use business tools that save time. For example, using Dropbox takes out the need to move files to a USB stick when you are moving locations. Using Google Apps for Business allows you to access your email and calendar on any computer or smartphone. Evernote lets you organize notes, to-do lists, webpage bookmarks, emails, and more! There is something out there that will help you to become a more effective worker.
5) Cut Travel Time: If you drive to meet clients you understand how much time it takes to prepare for the meeting, to commute (especially if you run into traffic), to wait for your client/potential client, to leave time for small talk, and then to drive back to your workspace. Doing this many times a week can really add up to lost time. Try to set just one day a week for traveling around to meet clients, and consider virtual meetings (using tools like Skype) as an alternative.
These five tips are essential for my small business time management, and I hope they will help you too!