Handy hints on how to manage your time in business
It’s as easy as planning and preparing
I bet, at least at one stage during your business life, that you’ve had one of those days where everything is getting away from you.
You’re trying to get a task done, but it seems every time you make a start, something else pops up that takes away your attention, or needs your immediate input. It could be a phone call, an email, a family member walking into your office, a pet needing a pat and so on.
And if you’re working remotely, you may find a million distractions that pull your focus away from your business. You’ll quickly pop on a load of washing; you better make your bed, you need another cup of coffee…
There are so many things that can drag us away from doing what we’re meant to be doing.
And this is where time management comes into play.
What is time management?
It may seem like an obvious answer as you’d say time management was about managing your time, wouldn’t you?
But I encourage you to look at time management as planning and preparing for expectations, both other peoples and your own. It would be best if you start by knowing what needs to be done (for the day, the week, the month, etc.). Next, you need to learn how to focus your energy on the priority, and at the same time, make sure everything else is being accomplished.
Sounds tiring, doesn’t it!
The great news is, managing your time more efficiently isn’t hard when you know how to.
My top 5 tips for effective time management in your business
- Engage a business coach
If you’ve never worked with a business coach, you’ve got to try it. They are fantastic at providing you with experienced guidance and helping you to determine what’s essential in your business.
They can help you find answers (within yourself) on a range of issues such as:
- Should I broaden my knowledge and take a course
- Should I keep researching and playing with all these tech things
- Is there something else I should be doing
- Should I create a team to help me
- Will that team ultimately take me in the direction I want my business to go
You may not realise, but all these thoughts that run around in our head and distract us, zap our focus during the day. Rather than working on what’s important, you may get lost in that rabbit warren online, researching things that you end up not even wanting.
A business coach has an abundance of information and a wealth of experience and is a fantastic resource if you’re unsure about your priorities. They can also hold you accountable!
- Use physical and digital tools
If you’re the type of person who needs to write things down, you’re best to stick to physical tools like the good old-fashioned wall calendar, a whiteboard, sticky notes, a to-do list or a planner like the one by InkBlotVA (grab one here!). These are brilliant visual tools where you can write down everything you’ve got to do, and then prioritise as needed.
And the best part of these physical tools is the joy you’ll feel when you grab your big red marker and put a cross through that item on your list. Done!
We are so lucky to have a ton of online tools we can use to manage our time – both for our business and personal life. Using specifically designed business tools, you can set up reminders, prompts, colour code tasks, set up automations, record your time, and so much more. If you’re working with teams, these are great tools to keep everyone on track and assign tasks.
These tools include:
- Microsoft Tasks
Some people may find it best to use a combination of tools. For example, you may store all your upcoming ‘to-do’s’ in your email calendar but write them down each day so they’re sitting beside you on your desk and you don’t forget.
Play with each method to see what works for you (and your memory!).
- Try outsourcing parts of your business
Most of us are happy to outsource our ‘life necessities’, but reluctant to outsource parts of our business. You don’t have to do it all alone!
Take my air conditioner as an example. It’s coming up to warmer weather, and I know we’ll be using it 24/7 again soon and it needs a service. Could I take out the manky filters, dust it all off, vacuum out the vents, risk seeing spiders, and put it all back together myself? Sure, I could. But I won’t! Why would I waste an hour of my work time when I could employ a professional to do the job for me?
And that’s what it’s like in business. Sure, you could keep doing all the bits yourself, but if it’s not what you love, and there’s a professional who’ll do it better, why not let them deal with it for you?
Makes sense to me!
To determine what to outsource (besides the obvious things you don’t enjoy), I suggest using Toggl or another time recording application and record all your tasks over a week or two. Look at the chores that are taking the most time for you but aren’t the money-making things:
- Answering emails
- Onboarding clients
- Phone calls
- Taking briefing
- And so on
This will give you an idea of what you can outsource to free up your time.
- Work out the values of your tasks
Value is an essential time management element. When you’re looking at all the things you need to get done, think about how important that task is for you personally.
- Is it something that definitely needs your input
- Do you have to be the person doing that job
- How long would that job take
And don’t be precious when you’re considering this. You may think you must do everything in your business, but honestly, that’s not the case. For example, you have a task that you feel would take an hour. It’s essential to get it done, but it’s not a priority. And you keep putting it off as you don’t exactly want to do it.
Wouldn’t it be easier if you gave that task to someone else, set a deadline, and used that 1 hour of your time doing something else you love? Yes, of course it would be.
I’m a big believer in being proactive with your life, not reactive. There are already enough things in life we can’t control, so help the bits you can.
- Consider your perspective
When you’re caught up in the head fog of uncertainty and overwhelm with too many things on your mind, it’s easy to lose perspective on the bigger picture. Perspective is the underlying aspect of all time management scenarios.
When you review your to-do’s and plans at the end of the day, the week, the month or even the year, it’s how you perceive your success that matters.
- Tick off everything and conquer your list
- Tick off all the essential tasks
- Learn how to outsource what’s not valuable to you
- See what pulled your focus away and fixed that
- Fit in everything you wanted to do
- Keep everyone happy
You may not have got everything done, but you may have learnt how to prioritise, how to let go and outsource, how to stop being distracted and so on. Keep going!
Are you a pro at time management?
I’d love to hear from you and have you share your time management tips with us all. Please feel free to drop a line in the comments below. Have you found any fantastic systems that work? What’s your go-to tool for time management? What do you find easy to outsource in your business? Share away.