When small business owners are at their desk, they often feel like they don’t spend enough time on revenue-producing activities. They take care of payroll, track down late paying clients, balance the books and check email frequently. They’d rather spend more time connecting with clients, bringing in new clients and finding ways to grow business.
We all have the same amount of time in a day. It’s enough to get work done, get rest and do something away from work to clear out the brain’s cobwebs. Here are five time management tips that you can do right away to gain more time doing the things you enjoy and boost revenue.
1. Prioritize a short list
People create to do lists and keep adding to it. By the end of the day, they don’t feel like they’ve accomplished much after crossing off a couple of items. Phone calls, emails and other minor tasks sidetrack them, taking time away from more important tasks.
Go ahead and keep that long list of tasks. Treat this list as a holding pen. At the start of the day, prioritize your list based on what’s important to you, your business and your clients. Then pull out the top three into a separate list away from the holding pen. Make those your focus for the day.
Should you finish those three with time left over, pat yourself on the back and then pick the next highest priority item.
2. Shut out distractions
What would happen if you turn the phone off for an hour? (Yes, both sound and vibration.) Does your email application alert you every time you have a new message? Turn that off. Do you check email first thing? Challenge yourself to do an important task first instead.
When you’ve completed the task, then you can reward yourself by checking email. If that’s too much to ask, hold off starting your day with email for five minutes. Extend that to 10 minutes the next day. Keep increasing the time until you’ve found a way to check it once in the morning (just not first thing), once around lunch and once about an hour or two before quitting time.
Does three times a day sound impossible? Aim to check emails at the top of each hour and limit it to 10 minutes.
3. Drop, delegate or change administrative tasks
Addressing administrative tasks can restore five to 10 hours of your week. First, determine what you can drop, delegate or change. Maybe those weekly status meetings have lost their value and you can drop them. Yes, you’d rather do mundane tasks than assign it to someone. Are these tasks of value to you or the company? If it’s in the latter, delegate it. Trusting employees with such tasks shows confidence in them.
In some cases, you may need to change the task. Maybe those weekly one-hour status meetings still have a benefit. Maybe you could move them to every other week and hold them for 30 minutes instead of 60.
4. Use software and mobile apps
A ginormous amount of software and mobile apps exist today. There’s bound to be something that can speed your work. Mobile apps have changed the game as they let you accomplish things away from your office. A simple task like putting appointments into your phone’s calendar could be eliminated as there are many options for synchronizing your computer’s calendar with your devices.
Cloud-based file management apps allow you to save and access your files from anywhere. You don’t need to run back to the office to get the file you don’t with you. Grab it from the file management app.
5. Outsource tasks
The nice thing about outsourcing is that you’re not hiring a full-time employee with benefits. You bring on someone to do the work when you need it. For example, your business may only need accounting services at the end of every month and at tax time. Outsource your accounting activities.
Furthermore, the accountant can do related tasks in less time than you can. If it takes an accountant 30 minutes to do what takes you 90, that’s a savings of an hour. This hour could be spent meeting with a client to sell more products or services or bringing on a new one.
You can outsource invoicing and payroll. Stop chasing late payments, let someone else do it. You probably don’t enjoy this task, so it’d save you a lot of headaches.
In following these time-saving tips, you’ll gain back time you devote to running and growing your business. You’ll be happier having more time for the important things while letting go of the tedious tasks. It’s hard delegate when you want something done a certain way, but done is better than perfect especially when it means more time for your business.
Share your suggestions for how small business owners can better manage their time in the comments.
Image credit: -l.i.l.l.i.a.n-