10 Ways to Improve Your Time Management If You Run a Business

The way you manage yourself will directly impact your business results

I’m sure you have heard many times that you can’t really manage time you can only manage yourself. This is true and takes on an ever increasing importance if you are a business owner. Everything you do in your business involves conversations, thoughts, or actions. Each one of these can take up your valuable time if you are not watchful. As a business owner the way you manage yourself will directly impact your business results.

Here are 10 ways for business owners to Improve their time management

  1. Categorize your to-do list. Use Understand the difference between “urgent” and “Important” You shouldn’t be involved in too many urgent tasks, as these take your focus away from the important tasks, those which you should be allocating planning time to. Creating a 5-year business plan and networking with prospective joint venture partners are just two examples of tasks that should be classed as important, a complaint from a customer would be urgent.
  2. Pass it on. If a task doesn’t require your personal attention as the business owner, pass it on to one of your very qualified managers or a team member. If you work alone consider outsourcing some tasks to virtual assistants. Delegate as much as possible. This enables you to focus on the money-making tasks.
  3. Make business appointments with yourself. Many business owners have diaries or planners that are full of appointments with other people, it’s your diary so use it to make appointments with yourself. Get a day planner with pages laid out in 15-minute increments. Schedule your tasks for the day, in pencil if possible, to make it easy to change things around. When you physically write things down, they are easier to remember.
  4. Overestimate a task’s time when scheduling. If you’re unsure of how long a task will take, guess and add on an extra 15 minutes for contingency just in case something goes wrong. Set a stopwatch timer to find out how long it really takes you to finish. When the task comes up again, use the actual time it took to complete the task.
  5. Choose the emergency. What one person considers an emergency and what you consider an emergency are often two different things. For example: “My car wouldn’t start,” is not your emergency. “I broke my arm,” is an emergency that only you can handle. “I can’t download my product,” is not your emergency. “The website has been down for 24 hours and your password doesn’t work so I can’t take care of it,” is an emergency. Fix your password and hand it all off to your manager.
  6. Say no. You said no over and over when you were a toddler and probably at least thought it when you were a teen. You said no again when the kids showed up. You’ve had a lot of practice over the years. You know how to do this. Get in the habit of saying no in your business, unless…you can hand it off to a team member or it is something you really need to do and can realistically fit into your time schedule.
  7. Organize your desk. You’ve heard the saying, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Keep your desk tools within arm’s reach. Immediately after using an item, put it back in the proper place. Looking for the items you need wastes your time and is frustrating.
  8. Cut down on computer search times. Searching for files on your computer can take a while, especially if you create lots of information for your blog or others. You may be able to speed up the search by creating a well-organized directory tree, tagging files, or using an external source to house specific files.
  9. Focus on one thing at a time. Focus on completing one task and achieving one goal at a time. When each item is completed, you’ll get a feeling of success. Follow up with another success. This will give you a positive mindset, which encourages you to move forward rather than procrastinating.
  10. Use multiple timers. Different tasks require different kinds of timers. You’ll need a stopwatch type of timer as well as a regular timer. Although many timers come with both functions, consider getting two inexpensive clip-on or refrigerator timers. There may be instances when you need to use both at the same time. If you like to use the Pomodoro technique you can find a dedicated Pomodoro timer here.

If you need help managing your time, there are many ways to get things under control. Determine where you are losing or wasting time. Then use these ten tips to improve business time management.

If you would like to take advantage of a free 40 Min “Reclaim Your Time Clarity Session” and we can schedule a session

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Till Next Time

Mike Gardner

Mike Gardner aka ‘The Time Doctor’ and is highly regarded as one of the UK’s leading Time Management and productivity specialists. As well as being regularly featured in both online and off-line media outlets around the world, he is the author of the best selling time management book, Business Owners: Your Family Misses You. He regularly speaks on topics that are congruent with his mission of helping small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals to be incredibly productive, whilst still balancing their business and family commitments in a way that enables them to feel fulfilled and guilt-free. He is an avid Aston Villa fan, a Dad to Neil & Emma, a hubby to Wendy and in his role as an Officer with the reserve forces, he has completed operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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18 thoughts on “10 Ways to Improve Your Time Management If You Run a Business

  1. A great post, as always. Time management is a challenge for all of us (and I hope you never visit where I work and see my desk.) The next time I am on LinkedIn I am going to share this post. My FB friends who own businesses will also loves these.

  2. Awesome Mike, great tips on time management.

    Some I didn’t know either, BONUS.

    Cheers

  3. Great article Mike, thank you for taking the time to write it.

    I have read a lot of time management stuff over the years but always believe there is room for improvement. I found number 3 – book an appointment with yourself a new one to myself, but one I will use in the future.

    I also strongly believe the clear desk policy is a great one. Unfortunately it is one I struggle to adhere to myself, even knowing the great benefits of it.

    • Thanks Terry, glad you enjoyed it, Let me know how you get on making appointments with yourself. In terms of the clear desk policy you could always try my 5 minutes to the hour method, throughout the day at every 5 mins to the hour, just spend 5 minutes tidying/clearing a part of your desk by the end of the day you will have spent around 40 mins clearing/tidying your desk and that will usually be enough time for most people, let me know what you think

  4. Great advice, thanks. Just lately I’ve been focusing on shutting down the projects that were taking up time but not bring much in the way of results. It’s been hard at times but it’s freeing up time to do more productive activities.

  5. Great post Mike,
    I particularly agree with overestimating the time it takes to do things. It;s the biggest single mistake I have consistently been guilty of.

    You mention cutting down search times so I thought I’d share my most used piece of (free) software. It really is a godsend. Sorry but only works for Windows: https://www.voidtools.com/downloads/

    It’s called Search Everything and is light years faster than Windows own search (or Cortena) and you can specify what type of file you are looking for too. It’s extremely lightweight and I consider it an essential office tool.

  6. These are great tips Mike. I’m definitely working on ‘saying no’. In the beginning it’s tough to turn down offers that might be beneficial, but as you go along you learn how to determine whether the benefits outweigh the time and effort you will put into it.
    P.S. It’s pretty amazing that you have your own quote 🙂

    • Thanks Davina, I agree that it’s hard to say no to work when you need to put food on the table, but unfortunately for too many business owners, it becomes a habit they are unable to break