Time sure seems to fly by when you’re running a small business of your own. While juggling all the responsibilities that come with handling and overseeing different parts of your business, you may feel like you barely have enough time to manage it all. Time management is key, and by implementing a few tried-and-tested tips by our award-winning design team, you’ll find yourself back on track in no time at all.
If you keep losing track of time, the best counter is to do the opposite: track it. Jot down all the activities you have planned for the day along with the amount of time that you intend to spend on it, thereby creating a schedule. By doing so, you will be able to identify which of your tasks are more demanding in terms of your time and whether or not they are really worth the effort. Oftentimes, we end up spending so much of our time on minor tasks that do not yield enough results instead of the ones that do.
A good technique is to compare your tasks from the beginning of the week to what you have accomplished by the end of it. If there is too much of a difference between what you’re setting out to do and what you are getting done, then you need to identify the factors slowing you down. Do you waste time on unimportant activities? Or perhaps take too long to complete singular tasks due to a lack of motivation, resources or knowledge? Whatever the reason, you need to identify it and find ways to resolve it. Try implementing a solution for two weeks and see if there’s any improvement in your performance.
The Pomodoro Method
Setting a schedule is the easy part, but sticking to it as another story. If you find it difficult to time yourself for specific tasks, then you should try the Pomodoro method. The technique was developed in the 80s by Francesco Cirillo and is related to using a tomato-shaped timer (Pomodoro means tomato in Italian). Divide your tasks into intervals – traditionally 25 minutes each. Set the timer and start working, when the timer stops mark a tick on your sheet and take a small break – grab some coffee, stretch or relax – traditionally for 3 to 5 minutes.
After completing four such tasks and getting four ticks on your sheet, you can take a more extended break of say 20 minutes. This will help you feel relaxed, and the four big ticks on your sheet will make it feel like a well-deserved break as you have accomplished what you have set out to do. When the break is over, you’ll feel fresh enough to start on the next round of your Pomodoros. While you can easily buy the cute little Pomodoro timers online, you can also make use of any plain old timer or the one on your phone.
Keep your daily goals realistic
Everyone knows that making a to-do list is pivotal in helping you work out your activities for the day and enhancing your performance. However, if you’re making a few errors, this could have adverse effects on your productivity. Make your list in a hierarchy based on their importance, there are always tasks that need to be addressed that day, and then there are tasks that can also be completed tomorrow.
Differentiating between the two will help keep things more flexible and manageable. It’s always a good idea to stay realistic about what you can achieve in a day. Break down that huge task into smaller parts to help it feel less burdening. An overly ambitious to-do list will demotivate you when you are unable to complete it.
An ‘Important – Not Urgent’ section is a must-have for your to-do list. Many medium- to long-term goals can slot in under this section. These include strategising for the next year, finding better suppliers, changes around the workspace and designing recruitment plans. These tasks despite having immense importance and a direct link to business performance get put off in favour of lesser ‘Urgent-Not Important- tasks, therefore it is essential to keep them a part of your schedule and work on them whenever you find the time.
Being a small business owner does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. Being able to delegate tasks to better-equipped employees is a sign of good leadership. This will not only improve overall results but will also help declutter your schedule.
Even if you are a ‘jack of all trades’ there may be an employee out there who could do the task quicker and better than you and use fewer resources as well. This can be any task such as in marketing, social media handling, accounts, or even small managerial tasks. By outsourcing your workload, you will find more time to focus on the things that require your direct involvement and cannot be handled by anyone else. This will help you achieve all your tasks with more success while improving your business’s workflow.
Stop trying to multitask
A busy day often prompts entrepreneurs to attempt to complete multiple tasks at the same time. While that sounds like an ideal way of dealing with your workload, it is anything but. Many of us will be going through a presentation while answering a phone call or typing an email while reviewing spreadsheets or even going through your voicemails while creating reports.
Try not to use any communication portal such as text messages, emails, or voicemails until you have addressed the more important or urgent tasks at hand. Getting to work early is touted as one of the most productive times of the day, and by putting off your phone during this time, you’ll get the most work done. Even so much as glancing at your emails early in the day will drag you into a spiral of communicating back and forth that will drain you of precious time and let’s be honest – most emails can survive hours without having to be addressed.
According to a recent study, multitasking reduces our productivity by 40%. Therefore, instead of jamming tasks together, stick to separate time allocations to address each task with your full focus to achieve the best performance you can deliver.
Utilise your peak hours
When do you perform at your best? Some work better as ‘night owls’ while some find the daylight more energising. Either way, you need to time the more significant or demanding tasks during your productive period to better utilise it.
Here’s what Cristina Chirila, senior designer at FCI London, had to say about how she makes the best use of her time: “If a meeting is not important for you to attend, don’t attend it. It takes almost 20 minutes for you to get back in the focused zone after you’ve finished attending a meeting so if you’re not really required, just skip it. It’s better to focus that time and energy on the more important things and for me, it’s working on the project proposals. Because if your first submission to the client is good enough, then it’s likely to get accepted and you won’t have to go back to drafting it again or making edits which saves a good amount of time.”
Organising all your time into tasks is bound to help you manage it better, but it is always best to leave some free time in there to stay open for new/unexpected tasks that may require your urgent attention. Nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, but it’s always best to be prepared with a bit of time, just in case.
By utilising the tips given above, you’ll find that you have freed up enough time in your busy schedule to have more time to focus on the crucial aspects of your business. And, that’s a win right?