As a small business owner, the #1 item on your wish list most days is probably another hour or two in the day. But experts say that actively deciding and managing how you spend your time can expand your days in ways you haven’t imagined.
You already know that small business owners have some unique challenges when it comes to spending time on the right things at work—things that will bring maximum return. By nature, many small business owners value independence and like the hands-on nature of wearing many or all hats. Couple that with the relentless demands and the amount of detail small business owners face day in and day out. Most are moving at lightning speed, from dealing with customers and vendors to solving benefits issues to tinkering with a temperamental copier and back again.
It feels like you have no control over your time: Don’t you have to respond to each and every issue that comes up? Actually, you have more control than you think. And while it’s your job to be responsive, there’s usually more than one way to respond. Business Edge at fedex.comoffers steps you can take to manage ‘your most valuable asset’—time—the lack of which it your ‘greatest obstacle.’
To do more in less time, make detailed lists of all tasks, even time you spend planning and decision making. Do an in-depth analysis of how much time you allocate to various tasks by keeping records. You’ll see patterns emerging of areas where you should be delegating or outsourcing—or eliminating altogether. (You’ll need to get over the notion that only you can do these tasks!) And although at least part of your day is unavoidably devoted to putting out fires, you can boost your productivity by building a daily routine and staying as close to it as possible. Not only that, you’ll be able to repurpose some of your time to growth, revenue generating and even achieving better work/life balance.
Business coach Wendy Hearn cautions against The Top 10 Time Wasters. From a lack of focus and organization to interruptions to email, these time wasters can sneak up on you and eat away at your day before you realize. And we’re all doing them! Regain control by first being aware and making a list of your own time wasters. Understand that excessively wasting time could be a sign that you’re avoiding more difficult—and more important—tasks. Although it’s just easier to respond mindlessly to a string of emails than to dig into your financial statement, at the end of the day, the financial statement will still be waiting, and you’ll be that much further behind.
Now that you’re on a time management roll, you’ll also want to check out what forbes.com says are The 7 Habits of Great Small Business Owners. These have to do more with how effective small business owners invest their time qualitatively to improve productivity and performance. You probably know these but aren’t practicing them. And maybe you haven’t linked them to your own productivity. This list includes things like taking care of yourself and being protective of your life outside your business. Stimulating interests, as well as brain and physical health, the article says, will make you a more dynamic business leader. Rounding out the habits: Nurturing relationships, staying organized and being decisive will all help elevate your business performance.
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