Business time management differs slightly from
personal time management in that you are often responsible for a lot of people instead of just yourself and keeping everyone on tack can be hectic, given everyone’s differing work schedules, family responsibilities, or health issues. When you are running a small business, it is particularly easy to get overwhelmed.
Small business owners generally have a more relaxed relationship with staff. This can be a good thing in that a tight team is formed, but a bad thing in that you seem to be always available to the detriment of your productivity.
Make sure everyone knows you are ‘unavailable’ when your door is closed. They can email you of they need to, but shouldn’t disturb you during your work time otherwise. You have to develop a general work schedule that includes time for yourself as well as time for the maintenance of your business and attending to employee needs and queries.
Having ‘office hours’ can help a lot with this. Once your workers know that you have a job too and it doesn’t consist solely of answering their questions, they’ll be more likely to respect your need for a quiet environment and uninterrupted work time.
Next on the list is delegation. However, you should only delegate to employees who are self starters, motivated, and will actually save you time. You won’t get ahead if you have to keep double-checking everyone else’s work, so find leaders in your business and train them to be autonomous.
Define the major elements of your workload and prioritize them. The most important tasks should be dissected and a time estimate made, and you should schedule them for completion during hours when you have no interruptions. Smaller mundane tasks can be fit in around conference calls, meetings or breaks when you have a small window of time. Make every minute productive!
Of course, setting priorities depends on many factors: deadlines, how many people you can count on, how much information must be gathered and from whom, and whether or not you have access to the tools you need. Plan to include extra time for planning and communication on projects that have a large team working together. Problem-solving skills should be polished to help save time in tight situations.
Consider outsourcing things you and your staff are too busy for and have less than perfect knowledge of. A virtual assistant can handle mundane tasks, a copywriter can handle any needed research and writing, or a data entry clerk can deal with mind numbing repetitive work while your key staff do more important things.
Be flexible. When you hit a wall and have to play the waiting game. Identify your next most important task and get moving on it, this will ensure that time ‘lost’ waiting on others to get their game together is not really lost at all. It’s also a good idea to be a little ahead at all times, so a sudden illness or family matter doesn’t utterly derail you. Business time management is about more than the hours you spend in the office!
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