Time Management: A Brief Guide & Tips to Improve It

Apr 21, 2021
Time Management: A Brief Guide & Tips to Improve It

There never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. When you’re a small business owner, your time feels even more crunched. Every minute counts, but it’s easy to get bogged down in menial tasks and endless distractions that come with running your own business. This is where time management can help get you and your business on track.

So what is time management? In its simplest form, time management refers to the process of planning how to divide your time between tasks and activities. It sounds easy enough but time management can be tricky. It’s more than making a to-do list and getting a day planner. Time management requires intentionality. It takes commitment to add it to your daily routine, but the benefits can play an important role in your business growth.

Time management is key to taking control of your day, defining priorities and activities that will grow your business, and establishing a work-life balance. Businesses that practice effective time management are better equipped to solve problems and provide consistent service or products.

Anyone can add time management and time blocking— the act of dividing your day into blocks of time, each with its own specific task or goal—to their routine, but here are 10 tips from the experts at The CoLab to help get you started or elevate your current time management efforts.

1. It’s more than a to-do list.

So how can you start reaping the benefits of time management? First, it’s important to understand what time management is not. Time management is not just sitting down at your desk and making a to-do list for the day. It’s also not a quick fix but rather one that will take time to integrate into your business and your life. And lastly, it’s not just telling yourself that you won’t waste time today.

2. Set time aside for activities that will help your business grow.

Money-making activities are vital to your business, but you should be prioritizing the ones that will result in the most growth when it comes to your time. It can be tempting to fill your schedule with tasks and call it good, but not all of those tasks are contributing to the big picture of your business. Remember, you should be working on your business, not in it. Set aside time for activities such as finding new clients or working on strategies for increasing website traffic.

3. Make time management a routine.

Practice make perfect and the same can be said of practicing time management. It should become a predictable part of your routine. Block out time and stick to it. That way your employees become familiar with when you’re available and when you’re working on activities.

4. Disrupt the distractions.

As a small business owner, you probably feel pulled in a million directions at once all the time. Your phone is ringing, there’s a new email waiting to be read, and now an employee has a question for you. This is where time blocking comes in handy. As part of your time management process, sit down and block out time to answer emails and return phone calls instead of reacting to them in the moment. It’ll help keep you on track and allow you to be proactive instead of reactive. You also can block off time and let your managers and employees know that this time is open for them to come to you with questions or concerns. This concept is sometimes referred to as “Got a Minute?”

5. Prepare for your time blocks.

Taking time to make a to-do list is helpful, but don’t spend time doing it during your time blocks. You should go into your time block with the task you need to complete already in mind and be ready to execute.

6. Include others in your time management efforts.

As mentioned above, being proactive instead of reactive is a key strategy to managing (and taking back) your time. The CoLab founders Megan Marsh and Andres Munar have found success in establishing weekly meetings where members of their leadership team can recap the week’s operations, ask questions, and discuss new ideas. This routine meeting cuts down on disruptions by establishing a set time for these items to be addressed.

7. Win the day by planning your perfect one.

Figuring out your ideal day can help you plan toward your goals. What does your perfect workday look like? Is it spending an hour in the morning answering emails and phone calls, then another hour working on an important project before diving into other tasks? Write it down and use it to guide your time blocking. Add what you can week by week, and, eventually, your real schedule starts to look like your ideal one. Download your own win your day planning template here [Link to resource].

8. Create a daily success plan.

Keep yourself on track by putting together a daily success plan, which outlines what you’d like to accomplish for the day. Think of it as less of a to-do list and more of a roadmap to achieving your goals.

9. Find resources to help.

You don’t have to go on your time management journey alone. There are many online resources available that you can customize to your workflow. The internet is teeming with planner templates, calendar tools, and other resources that can help you manage your time in a manner that works best for you. [Resource recommendations?]

10. Stick with it.

Conquering time management won’t be instant. The first few weeks will be tough, so it’s normal to feel stressed and frustrated with the process. Changes to routine take time to sink so cut yourself some slack and keep trying. It may take three to six months to get into a groove, but once you have time management down, you’ll be able to focus on growing your business and making time for yourself.

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