Time. It’s a resource that you can’t afford to waste when you’re a small business owner. Every day, it feels like you’re juggling 20 different tasks — and at least 5 of them are on fire while you’re riding a unicycle. Yes, I compared it to a circus because oftentimes, that’s what it feels like when you’re wearing so many hats.
The to-do list never seems to shrink and time management seems impossible. It can get stressful.
What if I told you that you could change that. Time management is a tool that every effective small business needs.
Finding a method or 10 that works for you could help maximize your time in the day and free you up to get back to enjoying your hobbies.
Build a Plan — Plan for Distractions
Grab your to-do list because it’s time to turn it into a game plan.
Get Started Making Goals
A great baseline for better managing your time is goal setting. It’s how you know where to go next because you can’t get there if you don’t know where you want to be. That’s a mouthful. I promise it’s not that deep.
Get SMART about setting your goals. Grand long-term goals can be broken into smaller, short-term goals that propel your business in the right direction.
Break those goals down to even smaller bites that you can take on weekly or even daily. If it feels like you might be making your to-do list even longer, don’t worry. Tips to crunch it down are coming up — just keep reading.
Take the Time to Prioritize
Rome wasn’t built in a day and having your hands on everything at once is a wildfire waiting to happen. While multitasking might seem like a great idea, it could do more harm than good.
One important item at a time is the way to go. Accept that you may not get everything done in one day — that’s OK.
Make a star next to the items that are a major must-do or time-sensitive. While prioritizing, you may find tasks that are redundant or altogether unnecessary.
When prioritizing your to-do list, ask yourself:
- Is everyone on board? While this might be your company, you’ll want buy-in from stakeholders and any team members. Having everyone throughout the company on one accord and moving toward the same goals helps move your business in the right direction.
- Do my priorities align with my goals? This should examine the overarching ‘why’ of this task. Everything should be done for a reason. If there’s no clear connection between this task and your key objectives, don’t rush to complete it. Although you’ve not identified its level of priority, it may be something that can be used later as a fresh take. Shift it to a non-essential list.
- Am I being honest with myself? If the tasks you’ve been making a top priority aren’t helping get you closer to company goals, ask yourself why. Use that to either reprioritize or create a more relevant goal.
Keep Track of the Time
Timekeeping isn’t only important when working on a client’s project for billing purposes. Monitoring where you’re spending your time can help identify moments where you may not be making the most of the time you have. The overall goal here is to find ways to increase productivity.
Documenting your time and activities will also help you identify your productivity zone. Are you an early bird who works best in the morning or is the afternoon where you find you’re at peak performance? Knowing this can help you better decide when to tackle your major tasks so you’re not lagging or dragging.
As much as we’d like to believe we are 120% productive while working on our business, we can naturally get distracted. Do yourself a favor — eliminate distractions from your area, like your phone. If your group chat is nearly sending your phone vibrating off of the table, it’s best to put it away.
If there’s a TV near your workspace, a change of environment may be best for staying focused. Even when you work to clear out these distractions, you can still fall victim to a wandering mind, so be sure to give yourself grace and time to be distracted. By working in some distraction time, you make the number of tasks you plan to complete more realistic.
Resting is a Part of Time Management
It’s important to remember that even with prioritizing your tasks and time, everything may not get tackled. Avoid working into personal time to complete these tasks at all costs. It’s difficult to do sometimes but, it’s beyond necessary to avoid the dreaded burnout.
The worse thing you can do is overwork yourself and become unproductive. You’ll find yourself wasting more time than you’re working.
When you’re working within a cluttered space, it’s difficult to work productively. When you clear up your physical space, you free up and calm down your mental space. Consider cleaning your desk at the end of every day to avoid trash and clutter building up.
54% of Americans are overwhelmed by the amount of clutter they have, but 78% have no idea what to do with it.
If you’re swimming in paperwork, consider filing cabinets to keep them safe and out-of-sight. Color coding helps when looking to find items at a glance.
Shifting to the digital route will keep your business more organized and save you even more time long-term, which leads us into our next topic.
Tap into Digital Technology
If it’s not in your hand right now, it’s probably to either your immediate left or right. I’m talking about the ultimate small business tool — your smartphone.
The number of apps available at your fingertips is limitless and many of them aid in productivity, which is excellent news for business owners.
Whether you’re looking to manage marketing efforts, keep your finances under control or just keep a productive line of communication with customers, apps can help in cutting down the time used to execute those tasks. You can also get work done on the go.
These types of apps are small business must-haves:
- Time management apps
- Schedule management apps
- Payment apps
- Finance and accounting apps
- Project management apps
- Notes apps
Discover the Right Software
Although these apps can save time, having so many can be problematic. Spending time searching for and bouncing between apps, or endless tabs while on desktop, becomes a time suck. This is why finding an end-to-end CRM is at the top of every time-saving-savvy business owner’s list.
Having a CRM saves your team from sorting through dozens of cabinets for client files, which add hours back into their workday, and when all communication in one handy inbox, they aren’t looking through email and text apps.
Imagine your customers being able to schedule their own appointments and you not having to call or send texts to check that they’ll be there. For business owners that have tapped into automation, that’s a reality.
By adding automation, you have the opportunity to streamline tasks and add hours back into your day.
It’s a tedious and time-consuming job, but by adding automated invoice reminders, you free up time for other things. With Thryv, the opportunity to leverage automation is everywhere, from appointment reminders to marketing efforts and social media presence is there as well to help your small business stand toe-to-toe with big-name competitors.
Running your small business doesn’t have to feel like you’re juggling endless tasks. Ready to make the switch or curious about how one software platform can transform your entire business? Get started here.