As a small business owner, you know that time is your most valuable and scarce asset. If you spend it the wrong way, you can never get it back.
A report from McKinsey surveyed 1,500 executives across the world about how they spend their time at work. The findings reveal only 9% of respondents were ‘very satisfied’ with their time allocation.
So how can you improve your time management?
1. Understand the monetary value of each working hour
If you know how much revenue each activity generates for your business, you’ll be less likely to spend your company’s money and resources on the wrong things.
If you’re struggling, keep a log in a spreadsheet of what you and your team do each day, how long tasks take and if they generate revenue (directly or indirectly).
This quantification will help you manage your time and your company’s resources more efficiently.
2. Create to-do lists
Many small business owners try to remember granular details about each project, leading to information overload. Instead, use a to-do list to get actions out of your head and take charge of your projects.
Sir Richard Branson is just one of many business people who credits his success to to-do lists. On the Virgin blog, he writes:
“I do indeed write to-do lists and prioritise items. I live my life by writing lists – there is one next to me right now. Without to-do lists, I would use my time far less effectively, and have a lot less fun.”
Besides pen and paper, here are five great (and affordable) resources for creating your to-do list:
• Wunderlist: an affordable, cloud-based to-do list app that’s great for sole traders and small teams
• Trello: a powerful productivity tool geared towards collaboration
• Outlook’s to-do list: links directly to your email
• Any.do: another powerful productivity tool geared towards collaboration
3. Focus on what’s important
Productive small business owners know their time is best spent working on important and or urgent tasks rather than those that add little business value. When reviewing your to-do lists, be ruthless and efficient about what gets your attention first.
You’ll accomplish more if you focus on one task from your list at a time. Of course, sometimes unforeseen events take priority, but your goal is to work through your to-do list methodically when possible.
4. Do it, delegate it, defer it
In his best-selling book Getting Things Done, business productivity author David Allen highlights the value of rapidly doing, delegating or deferring key tasks as appropriate.
By doing, you use your cognitive skills in a sensible way that delivers a return to your business. By delegating a task that’s inappropriate for you, you use your time and your team’s resources and skills more efficiently. By deferring, you put off what’s unimportant until a future date when you have the required time, energy and resources.
This simple three-step workflow will help you work on high-priority tasks more frequently and grow your business.
5. Take regular breaks
Overworking is as damaging to your health and business as not doing enough. Ensure you take proper breaks and get away from the office. Otherwise, you’ll feel stressed about working extra hours and likely become unproductive and frustrated about your progress.