Let’s face it: when you start a business, you feel almost like you’ve got to be a superhero.
You have so many hats to wear, so many tasks to juggle, and it’s a struggle to manage your time well.
But the better you can manage your time, the more productive you can be and the more efficient and profitably you can run your business.
That’s a no brainer, but how do you do it?
Here are a few handy time management tips:
Track your time
You can’t manage your time better if you don’t already have an idea of how you’re managing it at present.
Keep a diary of everything you’re doing and how long it’s taking you.
I know time tracking is a bit of a pain, but it’s a necessary evil.
(There are apps out there that can help you track your time easier.)
Think of it as laying the foundations to run a more profitable, more efficient business.
Plan the week ahead in your diary (and prioritise)
Plan what you need to do for the week ahead and put it in your diary.
If you’ve been tracking time, you’ll already know how long it’s taking you to complete different tasks.
Think about how each important each task is. Is it urgent?
Decide how important or urgent the task is and assign it a colour.
If it’s extremely urgent, you might want to colour-code it red, for instance.
If it’s not urgent, you could colour-code it green.
I’m a big fan of colour coding tasks.
It makes task management quicker and easier.
I don’t have to spend a long time analysing which task I should or should not to next.
The colours help to make the decision for me.
Now, take another look at your colour-coded diary.
Is there anything there you could outsource?
Maybe someone else could take care of the invoicing, for instance.
I’m all for outsourcing. It saves you money and frees up time for you to concentrate on high-value tasks that will help you really build your business.
Sure, you should never ask your employees to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to roll up your sleeves and do these tasks all the time.
You’ll be much better off (and so will they) if you focus on business-building tasks and responsibilities.
I’ve said it before on here and I’ll say it again: multitasking isn’t multitasking; it’s switch-tasking — and it doesn’t work.
You might think you’re being super-productive, but you’re not.
You’re just diverting your attention from one thing to the other and then forcing your brain to adjust again to what you were doing before.
The brain is complex and amazing, but we can’t just switch on and off. It takes time to adapt.
By trying to do two things at once, you’re also putting yourself under more pressure and draining more of your energy.
You don’t need that when you’re already working so hard to run your business successfully.
Ultimately, ‘multitasking’ takes longer, so just focus on doing one thing. It’s quicker and more productive.
Speaking of focus….
Once you’ve started a task, don’t let anything distract you from it.
In today’s technological age, it’s incredibly easy to stray from the task at hand.
A notification flashes on your phone and whoosh, that’s you replying to a social media comment, instant message or email.
The phone rings and you lose 10… 15… 20 minutes, maybe more, answering the call.
Then you’ve got to get back into the flow of what you were doing.
Block out these distractions.
They’re not likely to be urgent, so respond later.
Include some buffer time between tasks
Since we’re busy and are anxious to be productive, we tend to rush from task to task.
When you’re planning your tasks, allow yourself five or ten minutes between them so that you have time to wrap up the task.
It’s impossible to start and finish tasks punctually if you schedule them too closely together. You can’t start one task the split second you finish the previous one.
A few final words
Managing your time better is all about being able to direct your focus in the right way and prioritising, about knowing what will carry your business further forward and what truly requires your attention.
Understanding this is crucial.
Focus on the wrong things and you can hold yourself and your business back.
Concentrate on the right things and you’ll move forward.
So, take the time to study what you must do and what others should do.
And then enjoy the success that follows.