In Part 1 of this series, we identified where the time of a small business owner can go. By Implementing the techniques and strategies below the small business owner will be able to manage their time more effectively.
Ten Ways for A Small Business Owner to Take Back Time
Carry out a Monthly Business Audit
As a small business owner, it’s very easy to spend your time working in your business as opposed to working on it. Regularly review your business and identify your top priorities for each day/week/month. Decide where you will focus your energy and then look at everything else and decide what to do with it.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
The Pareto principle or 80/20 rule states that 20% of your efforts will account for 80% of your results. Identify the areas of the business where you add the most value and decide to spend your time on them. Time spent concentrating on the ‘vital few’ (the 20%) will help to move your business forward. Complete these tasks and then worry about the ‘Trivial many’ (the 80%).
Let Go and Delegate
Be a brave small business owner, and delegate your work more often. From now on before you start on a task, ask yourself “Should I really be doing this?” and “Can this be done by someone else?” You may be thinking but my business is me, so who do I delegate to. Consider starting to work with a Virtual Assistant (VA) or others that have a dedicated skill set.
Even if you work by yourself, you do not have to do everything. Consider the value of your time and not just the cost of your time. Do you really enjoy doing the books? Bookkeepers do and will keep the books better than you and in less time!! Believe it or not there are people out there that answer phones for a living and enjoy it!! Could you outsource some of your tasks and operation to a third party?
Improve your Personal Organisation
Make proper use of tools such as Task lists, Action Today lists and your diary – make a habit of using them properly. Batch your time and do like tasks together, answer your email and return phone calls at certain times. Beware of inadvertently giving others permission to manage your time for you.
Systemise your business as much as possible. By simplifying your processes and procedures, you can make your business easier to run, which in turn will lead to saving you a lot of time. Having systems and processes in place also make the outsourcing of tasks much easier.
Improve Your Communication Skills
The ability to communicate with staff, customers and suppliers, in a clear, concise manner will also save time as well as reduce misunderstandings. Improving your assertiveness skills will also allow you to say “NO” in the right way and to manage the frequent interruptions that you get daily. Educate others in the way you work and when you are open to discuss issues and when you can’t be interrupted. Be consistent with the times that you return phone calls and answer emails.
Focus on Strategy
You must have a clear idea of where you are heading, why you want to get there and how you are going to get there. These questions will keep you focused on what you should be doing. Continually revisit your strategy to make sure you are on track. This in turn helps you to prioritise the things you need to focus on.
Not all tasks are born equal
It is important to understand the distinction between the important tasks and the urgent ones. Once you can do this you will be able to categorise your tasks accordingly and know what to do with each one. Tasks that are Important but Not Urgent and Urgent but Not Important should always be considered for delegation or outsourcing.
Stick at it!
Keep monitoring how you spend your time and adjust what you should be doing and how you are doing it. Be assured that as a small business owner, you’ll lose your way from time to time, accept it, take stock and move forward.
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Till Next Time
The Time Doctor – Mike Gardner