As a small business owner you’re probably busier than ever. Are you working more hours than ever and getting less done? Feeling stressed out and exhausted? Overwhelmed with too much information and too many tasks? Some days, do you question why you ever thought that starting your own business was a good idea?
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to re-evaluate your working style. Letting go and giving up all the busy-ness can be difficult, but if you’re willing to implement a few time management strategies you can regain your sanity, reduce your stress level AND you’ll be more productive with less effort.
Here are four time management strategies you can use to increase your productivity. It’s time to work smart, not hard.
Strategy 1: Complete Critical Tasks Firsts
Every day, make a list of your top five most critical tasks. Focus on getting them done before noon. Tackle them before you check email, voice mail, etc. Start your morning with focused, uninterrupted concentration! This will probably take some practice. You may find yourself experiencing email or technology withdrawal. If you can stick with it, you’ll be amazed at the results on your productivity.
Strategy 2: Batch Similar Tasks Together
Jumping around from one project to another, not feeling that you accomplished anything or constantly rushing to finish deadlines are all signs that you need to reorganize your approach to tasks. You can increase your efficiency and productivity by batching similar tasks together.
For example, try grouping all your errands into the same day (or better yet, have someone else run them for you). By batching similar tasks together you’ll work faster and with greater focus.
Strategy 3: Use a “Stop Doing” List
Many of us use some sort of “To-Do-List” to keep track of all the things we want or need to get done. Using a “Stop Doing” list may be even more important.
According to the 80/20 Rule, sometimes called Pareto’s Law, “80% of the things you do lead to 20% of the results, and 20% of the things you do lead to 80% of the results.”
Stop and think about that for a minute. That means we waste a lot of time on things that don’t help us accomplish our critical goals. We assume we’re being effective because we crossed something off the list. What can you put on your “Stop Doing” list? Focus on completing the 20% of the activities that account for 80% of your results.
Strategy 4: Delegate
Delegate whenever there’s an opportunity. Better yet, create opportunities to delegate. If you’re a perfectionist this is a difficult change to make. It’s true, the task may not get done quite as well or in the same way you would do it yourself. (On the other hand, their way may be better than yours…worth considering). Remember, you’re delegating…not abdicating. Be sure to clearly express your expectations and to follow up for best results.
Feel you can’t afford to hire staff? Consider using a virtual assistant. They’re more affordable than ever. Your virtual assistant can be a high school or college student looking for extra cash or a work-at-home mom who wants to supplement her income.
By delegating, you’ll free up valuable time to take care of the critical tasks that will help you grow your business.
Give these four strategies a try, then let us know how they’ve worked for you.