Time Management for Business Owners

Did you ever finish your workday and wonder, “What happened to my time? Where did it go?” One of the hardest parts about being a small business owner is to manage you. We often ignore managing ourselves. Let’s face it; one of the reasons many of us own small businesses is that we despise being managed. Otherwise we might pursue a work life of predictability in a large corporation. However, even in small business, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the appropriate use of our time. Otherwise, increasing amounts of time slips away faster and faster. Consequently, if you have ever asked yourself how you could manage your time better, then by all means read on—it should be worth your time.   Time Management for Business Owners   Time management is defined as “the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency or productivity.” Sounds kind of boring—until we learn more: the threats to our time management, a few time management tools, and how we can improve our time management.       What are the threats to your time management? – Email       Telephone        Travel       Problem Customers -Absent or inadequate prioritization to task demands – Redundant and/or repetitious activities       Poor listening -Inadequate rest for body and mind to perform optimally – Distractions and/or interruptions       Disorganization – Procrastination       Personal Problems       Others When you look at the aforementioned threats to your business time, what jumps out at you? Email is the biggest complaint I hear today. It used to be telephones that interrupted us, but now email has taken over as the main channel of communication in business. It’s not the same for all businesses though, particularly businesses where you’re not staring at a computer screen.  Some of you might feel overwhelmed by all of the above, depending on what’s happening in your business. The key is to simply take the time to identify your largest time threats currently. What are the common time management tools available for business owners? Most people think that a quick fix solution exists. It doesn’t. I could write about different theories of time management such as ABC Analysis (ranking by importance), Pareto’s Rule (80 vs. 20), The Eisenhower Method (unimportant vs important), but they all drift off of the mark eventually in our struggle to manage our time at work. We could consider various software tools to help us mange time. This can be useful in certain professions, particularly if we are billing by the hour, but not for all of us. Plus, managing the software and data seem to take up a lot of time, ironically. The time management tools that stand the test of time (sorry for the pun) are tried, true, and more practical and tactical in nature. The best tools have relevance no matter how we manage our time—such as our appointment calendars (Outlook, Day-Timer, Palm Pilot, etc.), the clock in the room, or a time plan of activities, etc. The point is to track your activities by time segment and plan to some degree how you are going to best use your time. Other tips for managing time include:

  • Hire or outsource your low-skill work. If you have too much to do and not enough time, something must be done. Have other people complete the tasks that you can most readily hire and teach and monitor their work.
  • Plan your day comfortably and watch it comfortably. Planning the day in 15-minute increments will drive anyone crazy. Instead, plan in increments of 20 minutes, a whole hour, or a few hours at a time, and monitor your performance without annoying yourself.
  • Manage your interruptions – these are inevitable, so plan for them by making time for interruptions.
  • Take care of your body and mind – allow yourself to replenish your body and mind regularly or one or both will eventually shut down on you. Proper relaxation now promotes productivity later.
  • Humor is undervalued in business to relieve stress!

If you have not already, you will eventually stop and wonder where your time went during your business day. If you are curious and want to understand the threats to your time, keep a piece of paper, or electronic notepad, ready and keep track of the threats to your time management. The more recurring threats might surprise you.  Whatever time management tools you decide to use, note that no one time management tool works for everybody in all phases of entrepreneurial or business life. Only you can find the best time management system that works for you and where you are now. If you have a tip or suggestion for the rest of us, don’t forget to share it through a reply or email. We definitely appreciate your time.       Copyright © John McAdam 2014. All Rights Reserved.