Being your own boss means having complete control over your schedule and priorities, but that freedom also comes with a lot of pressure to get it right. From handling customers, managing the bookkeeping, collecting payments, finding new business, and of course doing the job itself, how can you possibly have time for it all?
Here’s some useful advice on how to manage your time and get more done.
Learn to let go
Most people look at their to do list, and know deep down they won’t be able to get through everything on their own (at least as quickly as they’d like). Try looking at your list and thinking about which items you can offload. Which are the tasks that only you can do? Are there other tasks you actually think someone else could do better, or faster? Letting go of all the tasks someone else could do, and delegating them to someone else is one of the best things you can do for your business because it will free you up to think about more important things – like finding new customers or thinking through ways to grow.
It’s also critical for the longevity of your business. Delegating small tasks will give you more time and space for your peace of mind, and help ensure you don’t burn out.
Schedule in your most important work
A lot of time gets lost in the hustle of your day. If you’ve ever looked back at the day to figure out where you spent your time, you’ll know this to be true. Block out designated times to tackle your most important projects. Even if it can’t be finished in an hour, make sure you set aside time to make a dent, and commit yourself to progressing it during that time. Be strict with that time by saying no to any last minute attention grabbers that surface.
Just as important as scheduling in work tasks, be sure to schedule in time for family, friends, hobbies and downtime. Your business will only benefit when you put yourself first – you’ll be more recharged and ready to do your best work when you have balance in your life.
Avoid multi-tasking at all costs
Multi-taking used to be all the rage, but there’s been a number of studies done to show that it’s actually harmful to your productivity. One such study from Stanford University found that multitasking is less productive than doing a single thing at a time.
Stopping and starting your work to check and respond to emails, texts and calls can be really disruptive to your workflow, particularly when those messages force you onto a new task. You can accomplish so much more by completely finishing a task before moving onto the next one. It takes a lot of discipline, because this often means letting a customer call go unanswered for a few hours, but if it means you’ll give that customer and their needs your undivided attention, you’re giving them a better experience anyway.
Don’t lose time to disorganized chaos
Spending time looking for something is not only frustrating, it’s a giant waste of time. Whether your workspace is a home office, the back of your car, or a shop, get organized so you know exactly where everything is at all times.
Simple technology can go a long way to keep you organized without you even having to think about it. Apps like Dropbox and Evernote make it easy to store, search for, and share documents from any device, wherever you are. Apps like Invoice2go of course take care of your billing, time tracking, and expenses so you can spend less time on admin, and more time on growing your business.
If you are mobile, keep a portable charger for your devices, and a wifi jetpack so you never get stuck without power or connectivity – both deal breakers for productivity and organization.
Practice ruthless prioritization
As a small business owner, there are a million and one things you can be doing at any time to run and grow your business. It’s overwhelming. At the beginning of each day, dedicate thirty minutes to thinking through which activities will drive the biggest impact for your business. Make these priority number one. There will always be those smaller tasks that simply need to get done in a certain timeframe, but make sure you block off time to get those top priority items crossed off before the day is done.
It’s hard not to feel stretched when you’re running your own business, especially when it comes to how you spend your time. When you start thinking about your time as the valuable and limited resource that it is, you can start planning your day accordingly, and establishing habits for yourself that get you closer to reaching your goals every day.