Running a small business is no easy task, especially because having a small number of employees equates to every ounce of manpower having a significant effect upon the company. In fact, the responsibility of running a small business leaves little room for waste of any type. This, of course, applies to both physical and financial resources, but it is also important to know how to properly utilize your time. Even if your company has survived the initial stages of development, operating a successful small business requires a continuing dedication, sense of passion and controlled discipline in many areas, including time management.
Effectively managing your time is important because it can increase your business’ productivity, which in turn strengthens the brand through the improved quality of your product or service. And as a small business owner, you already recognize the importance of doing everything humanly possible to promote and improve your brand. So, if you already know the importance of time management, why is it often so difficult to put it into practice?
Major Threats To Time Management
According to a survey conducted by Microsoft, the average worker is only productive 60% of their time on the job—that’s a pretty frightening statistic. Larger corporations will stay afloat regardless of how much time their employees spend socializing or browsing online, but to a small business, excess time wasting can be deadly. The primary factors that threaten one’s ability to manage time effectively are seemingly simple mistakes that may contribute to much larger setbacks; these mistakes include:
- Overwhelming yourself or an employee by assigning extensive to-do lists
- Failing to create and follow a detailed schedule
- Allowing the immensity of one project to inhibit your ability to complete each individual task
Luckily, once you recognize that these habits are holding back your time management potential, you can begin to remedy the situation.
Tips To Manage Time Effectively
Here are a few of the best ways to improve your time management skills, so that you can focus 100% on managing the rest of your business.
- Abandon Multitasking: Many people consider a knack for multitasking to be a vital skill, necessary for survival in the world of business. Unfortunately, many of the people who try to multitask at work actually hinder their productivity more than they would like to admit. The problem lies in the challenge of frequently shifting one’s focus between unrelated tasks, which actually wastes time that could otherwise be spent productively. Unless you’re among the few people wired with the capacity to successfully multitask, your time would be much better spent focusing on one specific task at a time.
- Make It Tangible (Write It Down!): The act of writing out a schedule or succinct to-do list can be both cathartic and beneficial to focus at work. Having a tangible plan in the form of a written schedule helps to keep you on track and also allows you to visualize the big picture of whatever goal you are working towards, which can keep you grounded and motivated. When you have something clearly laid out in front of you, it’s less likely that you’ll allow distractions to take your mind elsewhere—and even if they do, you have that visual reminder of your upcoming goal or deadline to reel your focus back in.
- Create A Productive Workplace: Does the current state of your office reflect your ideal workspace? An organized workspace encourages organized thoughts, which can help you focus and reduce the amount of time wasted at the office. A frequent form of procrastination is impromptu cleaning or attempts to organize one’s desk; however, you can prevent this sort of time wasting by scheduling 10 minutes at the end of each day in which you straighten up your workspace. Whether you save time by having all of your files organized on your computer or simply store your extra pens in a designated drawer, physical order of the items around you leaves you with one less distraction from work.
- Schedule Each Crucial Step: When a project seems too complex to accomplish or a goal feels too far out of reach, the best thing you can do is break down your plan of action into smaller, manageable components. Not only does completing each step provide a sense of accomplishment throughout the greater process, but it also reinforces that the largest, most intimidating projects are really just a series of simple steps.
Good luck managing your time and passing on healthy time management habits to your employees and team members. It may seem like a basic skill, but many professionals have yet to polish their time management abilities; however, without a concerted effort to optimize each moment of work dedicated to your business’ success, those impending deadlines and daily distractions may pile up into something disastrous.
About the Author
Emily is a freelance writer based in Toronto, Ontario who covers a range of topics from technology to travel. She holds a Bachelor in English Literature and Business from the University of Waterloo. No matter how many projects she is working on, Emily always finds time for baking, reading, and yoga.