With so many responsibilities to tend to as a small business owner, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and fall short on what you want to accomplish. If you’re a new entrepreneur who formerly worked for an employer other than yourself, you may discover managing time has become more challenging. That’s natural. After all, you’ve gone from having your work schedule and priorities set for you to needing to prioritize every project and task related to running your business. Time management doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but it’s an essential skill that can be developed with some attention and effort.
Here are some simple time management tips to help you take control and become more productive:
- Don’t Multitask – Believe it or not, multitasking has been proven to accomplish less rather than more. According to Sanjay Gupta, MD, on CNN.com, only 2 percent of people are exceptional multitaskers. The rest of us fail at it—and quite miserably, too. Gupta explains that when we “multitask,” we’re not really doing both activities simultaneously. In reality, we’re diverting our attention from one part of our brain to another, which takes time and brain cells. The other side of our brain views it as starting a brand new activity when we switch back and forth, making us slower and less effective than if we were to focus on just one activity at a time.
- Schedule Everything – This goes for your project work, administrative tasks, phone calls, meetings, and even checking and responding to email messages. While you may not always stick to your schedule, you’ll be more conscious about staying on task and not squandering time.
- Make Email More Manageable – An eMarketer blog post shared that according to Adobe research in July 2015, U.S. business executives spend 3.2 hours daily checking work email on weekdays. In addition, they spend nearly the same amount of time checking personal email: an average of 3.1 hours each day. As a small business owner running your company, email will likely demand a good bit of your time, too. Honoring the first two tips above, schedule time to tend to your email and don’t jump back and forth from email to other tasks.
- Build In Some “Wiggle Room” – In an ideal world, everything would go as planned. But we live in the real world where the unexpected happens on a regular basis. By building some time into your day to accommodate unanticipated phone calls, tasks that run longer than you thought they would, etc., you’ll be less likely to fall behind schedule with all else.
- Delegate – If your problem getting things done is less rooted in your time management skills and more in the fact that you simply have too much to do, consider delegating and/or outsourcing. If you have employees, consider what responsibilities you might entrust to them. If you’re a solo business owner with no staff, you might consider contracting a virtual assistant who can take on some of your administrative tasks.
Starting a new business requires a lot of time, so it pays to spend it wisely and use it as efficiently as possible. For additional guidance and insight about all things related to starting and growing a small business, contact the SCORE chapter near you.
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.