Do you wish there were more hours in the day? Do you find yourself working at night and over the weekend? Most small business owners have a huge load of responsibilities on their plates, and if you’re just starting out or work solo, you aren’t alone if you wish you had more time to get everything done.
While you can’t squeeze a 25th hour out of each workday, there are ways to create efficiencies in your schedule that can save you a lot of time. And if you’re still overwhelmed, delegate!
1. Cut Out Distractions
One of the worst distractions to a small business owner can be your email inbox, which I covered recently. But once you have tamed your email, there are still plenty of time-wasting tasks you may be performing that are roadblocks to your success. Maybe you answer the phone every single time it rings. Maybe you don’t schedule meetings in blocks, so you never have more than an hour at a time at your desk. Or maybe your rituals for getting “into your zone” take too long. Whatever distracts you, name it, own it, and eliminate it. Take calls only during certain times of the day. Schedule meetings only when you are feeling fresh and energetic. Streamline your rituals so it doesn’t take forever to gear up and get working.
2. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
One of the most effective time management tips is to create systems and templates. If you have a set process with clients and vendors, you can and should establish firm timelines and processes with templatized documents. When you know exactly what steps to take and when, and have go-to documentation where you can just fill in the blanks for each client, it saves you from having to create it from scratch with every new client or project.
3. Establish Firm Boundaries with Others
A huge problem for many small business owners is when their clients (or even vendors) expect instantaneous attention and turn-around on projects. But if you are always jumping when they snap their fingers, not only will you feel burned out and resentful, but you will also find it extremely difficult to actually get things done. Determine on your own how long a project will take, including time for revisions, and let the client know your expected date of completion, rather than letting the client tell you “it’s due tomorrow!”
Similarly, if meetings with clients or vendors tend to run overtime, let them know at the beginning that you don’t have additional time past the allotted hour. Then, fifteen minutes before time is up, help others wrap up the meeting by asking concluding questions, or recapping what has been said. Write down any new deliverables, and ask to schedule a follow up meeting.
4. Break It Down
When you’re facing an enormous project it can seem so overwhelming you don’t even know where to start. Don’t get trapped in fear – work around it by carving up the project into smaller tasks. You can group similar tasks, such as client phone calls, creating presentation decks or writing advertising and marketing materials. Prioritize groups of tasks by which are urgent and important. The tasks that are neither urgent nor important can be completed last.
If there are tasks you really hate or are just not good at, it makes sense to have someone else do them for you. If there are others on your team who have a lighter load, or who have skills you don’t have, make these tasks part of their set of responsibilities. If you are a solo operator, you can still offload work by hiring a virtual assistant. A good VA can handle almost anything you throw at them, from organizing events to bookkeeping to copywriting. Then you can focus on what you really want to do: growing your business.
If you’re feeling like there’s just too much to do, I can help. Let me know what your business needs are, and together we can make a plan for your success! Contact me today.
© Copyright 2014 Sophie Zollmann