As every business owner knows, being busy and working long hours doesn’t always translate into progress and productivity. Perhaps more than any other business executives, small business owners fall victim to a slew of time wasters. Trying to handle too many roles, ranging from book-keeper to sales director, many small business owners have trouble setting priorities, delegating appropriately, and finishing important projects. As a result, they end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and exhausted. If this sounds familiar, read on. A few simple tips can help boost your time management skills and improve your efficiency and effectiveness at work:
- Make sure you have a business plan for 2008 that reflects your short-term and longer-term objectives. Figure out what you need to do to achieve your goals and write an month-by-month action plan breaking out the various tasks assigning each to a specific person, and developing monthly (or even weekly) to-do lists. No plan is ever cast in concrete. Schedule quarterly review meetings to ensure monthly goals are being met, and to revise goals/tasks for the upcoming quarters as needed.
- Determine where your priorities lie and determine which tasks should be at the top of your list. As a rule of thumb, tasks that relate directly to bringing in revenue should head your list—items like completing an ongoing client project, finalizing a new business pitch, tackling an issue that must be resolved before a client will settle an outstanding invoice.
- Learn to delegate. Do what you do best and hand off other jobs to employees. Recognize that it is OK if employees don’t address a project in exactly the way you would. Provide direction, and then focus on the results achieved rather than the methods used to get there.
- There may be some interruptions that are unavoidable and beyond your control, but many of us generate our own distractions. Don’t review emails every time you notice you have new mail. If possible, set up specific times to view your email—e.g. 10 a.m., after lunch, 4 p.m. and a final pre-departure scan for priority items. If you come into the office with a high priority job to handle, make a start on it before you first open up your e-mail.
- Sometimes productivity needs a jump-start. Everyone needs the chance to “brain-storm”, to share ideas and learn about new developments. If you work alone or in a small office, re-charge your batteries and tap into new ideas and inspiration by attending trade shows or continuing education seminars.
Improved time-management skills can not only boost your bottom line, but can also give you the chance to have more time with your family and less stress in your day-to-day life.