Managing your time effectively can be the difference between success and failure as a business owner. A well-planned schedule will help you stay on top of all personal and business tasks, giving you a better work/life balance. Focusing on time management also encourages productivity and creativity, essential for businesses seeking growth. Here’s how to improve time management in business so you can capitalize on opportunities as they arise.
What is Time Management?
Time management involves planning the use of your time in order to maximize productivity. In essence, it helps you get more done in a shorter period.
Sound impossible? It can be difficult, but there are ways to achieve this goal. Once you've mastered time management, you'll be less stressed, improving your work quality. You'll even have more time to spend on the projects that really matter.
Improving Time Management in Your Business
Track Your Time
The first step to figuring out how to improve time management in business is to understand better how you spend your time at work. This will allow you to identify any problem areas, such as habits that keep you from being as productive as possible.
There are tracking tools available that can help you with this step. RescueTime, for example, can track how much time per day you spend on non-work related activities and how many hours you're productive.
Create a Schedule
Once you have a general idea of how you've been spending your time at work, try creating a daily schedule that includes specific amounts of time for certain tasks.
Be generous with your estimates—if you don't have enough time to complete a task within the prescribed time frame, it can throw off the schedule for the rest of the day. At the same time, you don't want to give yourself an entire day to complete just a few simple tasks, or you'll probably waste a lot of time.
Self-discipline is the key to making this step work. Put your phone away, and only sneak peeks at it once you're on a scheduled break. Stick to your assigned tasks. Everyone gets distracted occasionally, but do your best to stay on track. It will soon become second nature.
One last thing: Remember to set time aside for snacks, meals, and hydration. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the top 3 ways to stay healthy in business.
Have you ever heard of the Eisenhower Matrix? This time-management tool can help you sort tasks in order of priority. Here's the basic outline:
- Do First—The most important tasks, especially the ones with approaching deadlines
- Schedule—These tasks may also be important but have no set deadlines
- Delegate—The tasks that someone else in your team can perform
- Delete—Any tasks that will not help you achieve your goals
When you get used to following this matrix, you can manage your time efficiently.
Batch Process Your Tasks
Batch processing, also known simply as "batching," involves grouping your tasks so that you're working toward similar goals simultaneously.
For example, set the first hour of the day aside for reading and responding to emails, then spend a chunk of the afternoon generating various reports. Try to schedule client meetings within a certain time frame—for example, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when you've had a chance to catch up after the weekend.
The ability to perform multiple tasks at a time is often lauded as a desirable trait in a worker. However, in reality, multitasking cuts way down on productivity.
Whenever you switch tasks, you waste valuable time that could be better spent, edging you closer to your goal. What's more, the distraction could result in costly errors. You're better off focusing on just one task at a time.
Don't Be Afraid To Say "No"
One of the biggest challenges for business owners when figuring out how to improve time management in business is learning to say “NO” when tasks or projects don’t fit with their skillset or can be delegated to someone else. Think about the task you're facing. Is it worth your time and energy? Is it something that plays to your strengths?
If the answer to either of these questions is no, consider delegating the task to someone else. There's only so much time in a day, and you want to save energy for tasks and projects that will move the business forward.
You may not have considered this aspect, but a messy desk can harm productivity. If you're constantly searching for the tools you need to complete your tasks, you're wasting more time than you realize. As a bonus, keeping a neat workspace will take your stress levels down a notch or two, keeping you focused and refreshed.
This doesn't mean you should rely on technology completely—the human element is necessary for most tasks. But in addition to time-tracking software, you can enlist the aid of other tools that will help keep things running smoothly. Here are a few ideas:
- Slack—keeps team communications in a shared central location
- OneDrive—for file backup and sharing
- Google Calendar—keeps everyone on the same page regarding scheduling, including planned time off
- Canva—for designing professional-looking signs, ads, and templates
Boost Productivity by Taking Control of Your Time
Time management is an essential part of running a successful business. It can help increase efficiency and productivity, leading to better employee results. Whether it's staying organized with reminders or creating milestones with deadlines, improved time management helps businesses reach their goals faster and with greater success. Once you understand how to improve time management in business, implementing these changes will boost your productivity and improve workplace time management.
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