Everyone deals with time management problems at some point in their life. Whether you’ve suddenly found yourself procrastinating every challenging task you’re confronted with, or you’re missing important appointments due to lack of available time in your day, time management is vital for maintaining your small business and staying on track toward your company’s goals.
BusinessDictionary defines time management in the following way:
“Systematic, priority-based structuring of time allocation and distribution among competing demands. Since time cannot be stored, and its availability can neither be increased beyond nor decreased from the 24 hours, the term ‘time budgeting’ is said to be the more appropriate one.”
Here are five tips for improving your time management skills.
- Log your minutes.
Choose a typical workday coming up, and prepare a log sheet. Hard copy, or in your phone, whichever works best for you. From the moment that day begins, write down every task or activity you attempt or complete. From eating breakfast to writing an email, log every minute of your day. When it’s over, look at your day and categorize the activities in it. From there simple math will tell you what percentage of your day you spent on each category, and then you can analyze where there is an unnecessary excess of time spent. Your next step is to decrease the wasted time and increase your productive time.
- Set a timer and time limit.
Before you start a task, set a timer for 20 to 25 minutes. Work on that one job alone, focusing all of your attention on it. When the timer goes off, take a five-minute break before resetting the timer to either continue the task or start a new one. This keeps you focused and motivated, while also keeping your stress level lower. If it’s an unpleasant task, set a time limit. Put an alarm on your phone for a realistic amount of time, and stay focused on the work until the alarm goes off. It’s important to give your undivided attention to the activity at hand; put your phone on do not disturb, turn off the radio or television and give full attention to the work.
- Sequester yourself.
Employees are time sucks, even the ‘good’ ones. Some employees will come to you with problem after problem they either don’t know how to fix, or don’t want to fix. The so-called ‘good’ employees, who can solve the problems, will constantly come to you for attention, like a teacher’s pet. If you train your employees well, you shouldn’t need to be around them all the time. As the boss, your time is important, so sequester yourself from your employees and get your work done without interruption. Have a private office away from the main action of the business and shut the door.
- Develop new habits.
This one is a little more difficult. There are a lot of sources who say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but it should read that it takes a minimum of 21 days to create a habit. It depends on your dedication and the difficulty of the new behavior. It is doable. If you need more hours in your day, but you’re not a morning person, find your motivation and start forcing yourself to get up when the alarm first goes off, without ever hitting snooze. Do it every single day, weekends included, and you will eventually adjust and have a new habit. Some new behaviors are not fun, but dedication is key. If you genuinely want to change, you will.
- Organize and plan.
Organization and planning are always vital for small businesses. Keep tabs on every aspect of the company, and plan your moves. Inspiration and innovation can blossom from spontaneity, but planning keeps you on track toward your company goals. Buy a planner, or use the calendar on your phone and organize your day ahead of time.