10 Tips for Better Time Management at Work
by Liz Hester, Staples® Contributing Writer
Many of us struggle to find enough time in the day to accomplish all that we need to do, but the crunch can be even more difficult for those working in a small business. Here are 10 tips to help you find time to focus on your business.
Tip #1: Work on Your Business Every Day
It's important to accomplish something related to your business every day, whether its your full time gig or not. While the amount of time per day can vary, having the discipline to plan, organize or target customers daily will keep you moving forward. Its about getting regimented around where youre putting your energy, says Lorin Beller, a life and business strategist for entrepreneurs based in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA, as well as the author of From Entrepreneur to Big Fish: 7 Principles to Wild Success. That which you give energy to, grows.
Tip #2: Have a Clear Vision
Its easier to focus on your business when you know what youre trying to achieve. Beller suggests writing a one-page summary of your goals. There are good days and bad, so use that as your guiding light and keep putting one foot in front of the other, she recommends.
Tip #3: Use a System for Time Management
Andrea Ferguson, founder and president of AndiSites Inc., a Web design and development company in Chapel Hill, NC, uses a popular time management and productivity system, David Allens Getting Things Done®, which shes adapted to suit her work style. You need to personalize any system to real life and your circumstances, she says. Thats useful for helping break things down and making sure Im accomplishing things.
Tip #4: Schedule Key Tasks
Scheduling tasks helps you work more efficiently and not get distracted. Ferguson starts each day reading emails and responding to those that require three minutes or less. The others she schedules time to work on later after critical tasks are completed.
Tip #5: Take Breaks
Dont underestimate the value of downtime, which helps your brain recharge and clears your thinking. Dr. Scott Testa, director of the Entrepreneur and Business Boot Camp at Villanova University, likes to go on predawn runs or bike rides. That time unfocused on the business and exercising allows me to focus on the business, he says. Its counterintuitive, but it helps me focus on what is important.
Tip #6: Commit to Yourself
Making a commitment to yourself and following through with it increases your self-confidence about the business, Beller says. Setting goals and having the discipline to accomplish them makes it easier to focus on your business since youre making progress.
Tip #7: Combine Tasks Intelligently
Multi-tasking isnt always productive, but a smart combination of tasks is. For instance, Ferguson skips music in favor of listening to podcasts and audiobooks on business topics during her daily run. Im getting my education in, but also making the run go by faster, she says.
Tip #8: Set & Honor Priorities
Reduce chaos by putting high-value tasks first. I recently worked with someone who was so incredibly overwhelmed by the amount of work he had to accomplish that when I simply pointed out that some things were more important than others, it took a huge weight off his shoulders, recalls Denver strategic consultant Walt Boyle.
Tip #9: Outsource Weaknesses
Focus on the things youre good at and enjoy doing hire help for the rest. Im a firm believer in outsourcing your weaknesses and insourcing your strengths, Testa says. If youre a good accountant, thats the thing you should focus on and then hire someone to help with marketing and PR.
Tip #10: Keep Moving Forward
If we stop managing our time, were not moving forward, Beller says. So keep going if you dont always successfully manage every minute. Its like walking a tightrope, she says. If we stop, we fall.
Time management at work is essential for small business owners. Follow these tips to keep you and your business on the right track.