Running a small business can be all consuming, especially when you are just starting out without a support team around you to help take the strain.
Often it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, especially if time management isn’t one of your strengths.
So, to make life a little easier we have come up with our top ten tips to help you to plan your time wisely.
Get yourself a diary – and use it!
Whether you opt for a traditional paper diary or an online option, this is the very best place to start to help improve how you manage your time.
At SBG we like Google Calendar which is free and easy to use. But whatever option you choose, just having a diary isn’t enough – you have to commit to use it!
With all of your commitments recorded in one place, it makes it much easier to take stock of forthcoming tasks and appointments and plan out your week ahead.
So, you have decided to improve your time management and, in your eagerness, you have mapped out all of the tasks you will complete over the coming week. This is a great start but there is one more check you need to do before you get going, and this is often where people trip up before they have even begun.
This vital step is a reality check. Planning ahead is absolutely pointless if you are not realistic about what you can actually achieve in a day. An over ambitious weekly plan is almost as bad as having no plan at all and will soon see your stress levels beginning to rise.
Get a grip on what is most important
If you are the manager/owner of your small business there will be some tasks only you can complete. These are the areas you need to focus on while looking at how you can manage all of the other items that are on your to do list. Some of these you may be able to pass on to members of your team if you have one, or you may look to outsource to a company such as Small Business Geek. Equally important is questioning whether these tasks are actually key to the future of your small business. If not, do they need to be completed at all?
Once you have worked out the tasks that you do need to complete, assess what is most important and do it first. Try not to get side tracked. Avoid distractions and steer clear of social media (unless you are working on your social of course!)
Create a to do list
There’s nothing more satisfying than crossing a completed task off your to do list. Casting all of the jobs you need to get done to paper will help you keep on track while also helping you to clear your head and focus on what’s really important.
Look beyond the week ahead
Map in time to consider not only the coming seven days but the month as a whole as well as the longer future. Lists, charts and planners can all be of help here, but only if you keep them updated.
Understand the need for flexibility
However well you plan you can’t predict exactly how the future will pan out - take the Covid-19 pandemic for example. The businesses which have done best over this period have been those which have been able to think on their feet and adapt to changing circumstances.
When issues arise address the root cause
To succeed at time management, it’s important to truly understand any issue that arises to avoid repeating the same problems time and again.
For example, if you are a maker and you know you have lots of events leading up to Christmas you need to start increasing production in time to cope with demand. Failure to do so will see your stress levels soar, and could mean you miss out on sales during your busiest time of the year. Taking time to think ahead for the coming months could help you to avoid this scenario completely.
Schedule in breaks
When it comes to planning your day don’t forget to schedule breaks for lunch, to check on progress, and to unwind. An over scheduled day will soon result in burn out.
Mute your social media notifications
As much as we love using social media for marketing small businesses, it is fair to say that if you are not careful the likes of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can eat away at your time. We have probably all had one of those days where the to do list is as long as your arm and you are making headway when a notification that someone has just commented on one of your posts pings on your laptop or phone. Who can resist the temptation to check out what it says? Not a problem if you can simply check, respond and return to what you were doing but it is all too easy to disappear off into the endless rabbit warren that is social media and then suddenly find the day has disappeared. Although we wouldn’t suggest turning social media notifications off full time – after all engagement is key to the success of social marketing – it is worth considering muting them if you are on a tight deadline or maybe at certain pinch points in the week when you need to remove distractions.
Sign up for a SBG Time Management session
Sometimes it’s really hard to see what you can do to free up time in your schedule. That’s why at SBG we have set up a new Time Management Surgery.
Our one-hour sessions are designed to help you look to the future with confidence.
Held on a one-to-one basis, the personalised sessions will explore areas such as diary planning, ways to prioritise your workload and whether tasks can be simplified to free up your time. Follow-up actions will be provided to help you adopt all of the helpful changes identified. To find out more drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org