Running a small business is no small feat. Don’t be discouraged if you feel overwhelmed by all the various tasks that come up. You’re probably juggling several roles and responsibilities, and that takes some serious time management.
Luckily, you can improve your skills and become a master of productivity. Here are our top tips for increasing efficiency at work.
1. Build a realistic schedule
The first step to a successful time management strategy is creating a solid schedule that you can stick to. With a clear view of your upcoming days and weeks broken down into individual tasks, you’ll know what to expect so you can plan efficiently.
Not sure where to start? Use a week or two to track everything on your plate. That way, you’ll start noticing patterns: some tasks might appear regularly as part of your day-to-day routine, while others will require some more preparation and special attention. Use this information to plan ahead and create a thorough, streamlined schedule.
2. Learn to prioritize effectively
You might be overwhelmed by all the different tasks you have lined up, but with the right prioritization you’ll be able to get more done.
Any project can be broken down into actionable steps—once you do that, highlight the components that have the highest impact on your business and the ones that are easiest to accomplish. That way, you can complete your tasks in order of importance, all while keeping efficiency top of mind.
3. Learn to say no
As part of your prioritization, you’ll probably encounter moments where you don’t have the bandwidth to take on additional tasks. Politely saying no to these responsibilities can be crucial. You’ll avoid burning out on work that might not even pay off in the long run. Keep in mind that these are important decisions, so weigh your options carefully before turning down a potential opportunity for growth.
4. Set deadlines and stick to them
With any responsibility, you’ll probably have a deadline that you need to meet. Make sure you’re on top of upcoming deadlines: make notes, set reminders, and start early to stay as productive as possible. By challenging and rewarding yourself, you’ll be motivated to continue exceeding your goals.
5. Plan time to relax
With all the work you put into running your business, it’s important to take advantage of your downtime and reduce stress whenever possible. Got a few minutes in between meetings? Have a long commute to work?
Planning a vacation anytime soon? These are the times to switch off and shift gears. Take breaks so you can reflect, relax, and reenergize. Then you’ll be ready to take on the responsibilities of business ownership, one day at a time.
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6. Use tools and programs to help keep you organized
There’s an endless number of options out there when it comes to time management software. Just search for “Productivity” applications and you’ll see thousands of results, each with its own avid supporters and 5-star reviews.
The only way to find the best fit is to identify what you’re looking for first. Think about how you currently organize your notes, to-do lists, and calendar. Then, find an app that makes the transition to digital organization as smooth as possible.
For our business app recommendations, visit the SmartBiz Small Business Blog: 11 Best Business Apps to Download.
7. Avoid procrastination
Procrastination is a way to avoid doing work by choosing to engage in more pleasant, easier, and distracting activities. While it provides immediate rewards, it can seriously impact your productivity.
To limit your procrastination, start by identifying patterns in your behavior: what are the triggers that shift your focus toward distractions? Once you have a better understanding of your unique situation, you can take steps to avoid continuing down the same path. That might mean choosing a designated area for work only, setting timers, and blocking off time on your calendar.
8. Don’t multitask
Many of us believe that multitasking will help us achieve multiple goals at the same time, but that’s not always the case. When you’re constantly shifting your attention back and forth between several projects, you might actually be exerting more effort and not getting as much done. After all, in the moments when you’re “in the zone” and time seems to fly, you’re probably working on the single project at hand.
9. Delegate tasks and responsibilities
Have too much on your plate? You’re not alone. As a small business owner, you’re probably involved in every aspect of your operations. Sometimes the number of tasks can get to be too much for one person to manage. That’s when delegating tasks to the reliable people around you can prove to be a worthwhile effort.
Although it can be nerve-wracking to hand over your projects and share the responsibility, the benefits might just outweigh the costs. Not only will you have more time free, but with strong communication you’ll also have the opportunity to build meaningful, lasting relationships.
Time management is a balancing act for the busy small business owner. At the end of the day, you’re the only one who knows what matters most to you and your business. Remember that this is a skill just like any other: as you practice and make adjustments every day, you’ll see improvement.
For more helpful tips, visit the SmartBiz Resource Center! We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know as your business grows, from education to key updates to fun recommendations.
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