If you are an employer or small business owner, time management is critical for making the most of your business and achieving your goals. The following time-saving tips will help you get more done in your available time without generating stress or working 80-hour weeks.
1. Plan Your Work
Planning your work is the most important strategy for effective time management. As a business owner, you are under pressure to make decisions, meet deadlines, complete paperwork and handle issues like customer service and getting to know your customers. If you don't plan your days, your time will be taken up putting out fires and doing things that your employees, freelancers, family, or friends could handle instead of you. If you want to get more done, try following these planning suggestions:
- Prioritize tasks in order of importance and urgency.
- Put a checkmark beside tasks that only you can do.
- Carry a schedule, and refer to it often.
- Keep a phone, tablet, diary or daily planner handy to record appointments, deadlines and ideas.
- Set designated times to handle interruptions, employee conferences and other matters, and insist that people wait until that time except in urgent cases.
- Ignore phone calls and emails until the time you've set aside to deal with them.
- Plan to spend the more time on activities that produce the greatest business benefits.
2. Prioritizing According to Urgency or Importance
More is demanded of a business owner than ever because customers expect to interact with their favorite companies digitally and in the social media. You can use several effective methods to prioritize your work, according to the Small Business Administration.
President Eisenhower said, "What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important." The Eisenhower method categorizes tasks as important, not important, urgent and non-urgent. Plan to do urgent and important tasks immediately and important but not urgent tasks next. These are followed by urgent but not important tasks and then not urgent and not important tasks.
This method involves ranking all your work and chores with the letters A, B and C in order of importance. You can also prioritize within each category by listing them as a number 1, 2 or 3 in priority. Prioritizing begins by completing A-1 tasks first, A-2 second and down the line to C-3.
The Pareto principle is often called the 80/20 rule and is important in business. For example, often 20 percent of your customers generate 80 percent of revenue. Another interpretation is that 20 percent of your work will produce 80 percent of business. Pareto analyses favor doing the most critical 20 percent of work that generates the biggest returns.
The POSEC acronym stands for "Prioritizing by Organizing, Streamlining, Economizing and Contributing." You can organize your daily goals according to their urgency and the time you have available. Streamline or simplify nuisance tasks or matters that can be handled by others. Economizing refers to personal wish lists that you enjoy doing or things that should be done. Eliminate both if there's not enough time. If some time is available, concentrate on what should be done instead of what you enjoy. Contributing is about social obligations, giving back to the community and paying attention to customers and worker complaints, which are essential tasks.
3. Clustering Similar Tasks
Organizing similar tasks can save a lot of time in the course of a day. Set aside time to deal with employee problems, complete and file paperwork, listen to messages, read emails and handle other business tasks that are exclusive to your business or industry, such as inspecting the warehouse, testing products, meeting with vendors or touring the building.
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4. Delegating Responsibilities Responsibly
Delegating responsibilities is often one of the hardest things a business owner must do to save time, but it's essential if you want to reduce stress, get more accomplished and increase business success. Most business is based on the principle of getting others to work on your behalf. Organize your business tasks in the following way:
- Tasks that you have to do
- Work that you can do but others can help you complete
- Jobs that others can do but you can help them finish
- Work that others can complete without help
The 80/20 rules also applies here: If others can do a task at least 80 percent as well as you, it's usually acceptable to delegate the task. Some work activities you might enjoy doing, but you have to learn to say, "No, someone I trust can handle that work."
5. Minimizing Distractions
Distractions at work can easily cause any business owner to give up on his or her daily plan. In business, every vendor, customer and worker usually wants to talk to the boss, so it's important to control your work environment, restrict access and avoid personal distractions like reading emails and answering the phone. Regaining your concentration after an interruption wastes a significant amount of time. Build a wall against distractions by locking your door and disabling your phone. The more you can concentrate on work tasks, the faster you'll complete them.
Following the five suggestions above can help any small business owner and employer save time throughout the day. You'll do better work, avoid stress and generate more income when you approach time management proactively.
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