In a recent Main Street Pulse Report published by the OnDeck Group*, 86 percent of small business owners identified time management as a critical component of running a successful business.
Here’s a few suggestions to ‘take back your time’ and help you with your time management skills:
1. Shorten Meetings: Most hour-long meetings could probably be shortened to 30 minutes, but doing this might seem easier said than done. By creating an agenda before the meeting starts, sharing the agenda before the meeting, and keeping to that agenda will help with your time management. It’s sometimes easy to get side-tracked from the stated purpose of a meeting, but an agenda will help keep everyone on task and focused on why they’re there.
2. Schedule Everything: Use an online calendar to track meetings and appointments as well as schedule time to get things done. The real value of doing this is that it helps you focus on what you want to accomplish rather than the myriad distractions that seem to come up every day. By scheduling the time to accomplish tasks that you’ve identified as important, they don’t get lost in the shuffle of reacting to the events of the day.
3. Be Proactive: Anticipate things that might cause future issues. Thinking ahead saves time when compared to reacting to problems. Many small business owners don’t take enough time to think about their business and anticipate future events. Ideally, this would be time away from distractions like the phone or email. An hour or two every week to just think about your business might feel like a luxury of time you just don’t have. Nonetheless, it can be an invaluable help to being proactive and improving your time management.
4. Take Virtual Notes: Take and organise notes with an online tool like Evernote, or the Notes app on your phone. This allows you to record important information and quickly recall it when needed, wherever you are. Sticky notes or random pieces of paper can get lost, misplaced, or forgotten. Using a technology solution that allows you to have instant access to notes on your computer, your tablet, and your phone, make it possible for you to bring them up whenever they’re needed because they sync with all your devices—regardless of where you are.
5. Step Away as Needed: Recognise when your productivity is slipping. When this happens, step away from whatever you are doing. Take a walk, switch tasks, grab a coffee, and come back later when you are re-focused. If you’ve never thought of stepping away as a productivity tool, you should. Running a business requires a lot of creative problem-solving, and you need a fresh mind to do it. It’s been said that stepping away from your work every 75 minutes is good for your brain. You might be surprised at what a five- or 10-minute break could do for your creativity.
6. Delegate: One of the first things a small business owner has to do is delegate. Now, this may not mean hiring employees. Getting help from a virtual assistant, short-term contractor, or a service provider like an accountant can help keep you on track to achieve your goals while still ensuring you get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. It’s OK to ask for help.
The OnDeck Main Street Pulse Report was conducted online by Lucid Market Research from June 27 to July 1 2016. It used a national sample from the Lucid panel of small business owners. The 348 respondents surveyed come from a wide range of industries and geographies.