You are a hardworking business owner who is consistently stressed for time. You end each day reflecting on all those tasks and activities that you didn’t check off your tick list. Darn. You should have called that vendor to negotiate a better price. Zoiks. You forgot to review the marketing calendar that you promised to approve. Oops. You completely missed an important scheduled meeting with your distribution manager. And that was just today.
Important tasks and activities are being dropped regularly. But who can blame you? You are just one business owner trying to run and grow your company. You tell yourself that nobody could keep up with all the noise and distractions. There is just not enough time. But you know that is not entirely accurate. The forgotten meetings and missed calls are not really about lack of time, but rather the need for substantially better Time Management.
If this sounds a lot like you, take solace in knowing you are not alone. According to a recent Time Management Statistics report by Zippia.com, 82% of people don’t have a time management system in place.
As a business owner, intentionally managing your time allows for substantially higher productivity, much greater focus, and considerably less stress throughout your day. Effective Time Management helps you prioritize activities and daily goals. If you tend to be a procrastinator, enhanced time management efforts will also help you identify and address those tasks you tend to push to the side.
The following are easy, executable time management tips that can help you add efficiency to your calendar and squeeze more productivity out of your day.
Prioritization Is Key. For busy business owners, everything can feel like a priority. By not appreciating that there actually is a pecking order to the importance of certain tasks, business owners put themselves at a great disadvantage as it relates to their time. Consider the “Eat the Frog” method of task prioritization. The concept originates from author Mark Twain who wrote, “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it is best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it is your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.” The point here is, identify your most important or most complex tasks, then address and complete them first.
Learn How To Say No. This might seem so simple, but the word “no” is surprisingly difficult for many business owners, particularly ones who have inured themselves to regularly putting out fires. A business owner’s ability and willingness to say "no" establishes important boundaries for themselves and other key players in their business like their management team, employees, vendors, and sometimes even customers. Remember, “no” doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t get done, it just won’t get done by you. Delegation is an important device in every business owner’s time management toolbox.
Refrain from Multitasking. Trying to do everything at once is a sure way to get nothing done at all. Multitasking or switching between activities requires your brain to segue between often disparate activities, which often leads to diminished outcomes across the board. According to a report in the Harvard Business Review, multitasking leads to as much as a 40% drop in productivity. And studies suggest that while one might believe they are effectively multitasking, in fact less than 3% of the population can actually process tasks simultaneously. In short, multitasking is a major timewaster disguised as a timesaver.
Create a Schedule and Honor It. A well mapped out calendar is only as good as your willingness to follow it. Start by building out your entire week or month at a time, blocking off all foundational meetings and deadlines. Include free time and lunch breaks because they count! Then backfill the rest as new tasks and activities arise. Now comes the hard part. Commit to honoring that schedule. Start meetings on time. Don’t let strategy sessions run long. If an activity is not on your calendar, it doesn’t happen. Consider chunking or timeboxing, in which you group related tasks into a common timeframe.
Understanding how to divide your time as a business owner can truly be the make-or-break in the success of your business. To learn more about Time Management, watch our free, on-demand webinar titled “15 Time Management Rules for Controlling Time Bandits.”