Time is one of the most precious commodities for a small business owner. Between business development, client work, employee or contract worker management, marketing, and fire-fighting, there’s hardly enough time for coffee and bathroom breaks.
In fact, recent studies show that time management issues are among the main obstacles to small business owners being successful and keeping the doors to their businesses open. So what’s a small business owner to do? Here are some time management tips I recently gathered from a workshop sponsored by my local chamber of commerce.
Tip #1 – Decide What is Important
Most small business owners go to the office and fall into a black hole of disorganized chaos from which they emerge, sometime late in the day, having done a lot but made questionable progress towards definite goals. The time management expert at the seminar suggested that we small business owners plan our work weeks before they start … like on Friday afternoon or during the weekend.
We should decide what major goals we wanted to accomplish during the week, and what amount of time we were willing to commit to each goal. Then we need to schedule that time into our calendars, carving chunks of time when we did not allow disturbances like phone calls or checking email.
Tip #2 – Check the Calendar
A calendar is only useful if you check it and follow it. The time management expert stressed that while some small business owners are good at making plans for the week, they are terrible at following those plans. She suggested we check our calendars first thing in the morning, mid-morning, at lunch, mid-afternoon, and at the end of the time. While this may seem a little anal retentive or remind us too much of Adrian Monk, it seems that most small business owners easily get derailed without this level of persistent checking. So make your calendar, and then check, double-check, and triple-check to make sure you are following it.
Tip #3 – Avoid Fire-Fighting
I love this part. The time management expert gave us a mantra: “A lack of planning on someone else’s part does not constitute an emergency on your part.” I like this. Small business owners who do their own planning usually end up fighting fires because someone else forgot to plan. Whether it is a client, an employee, a friend, or a business partner who forgot to plan, learn to ignore it. Follow your own calendar because fire-fighting equals lost time, which means poor productivity on your part. Unless the emergency means a loss of thousands of dollars of revenue, learn to walk away!
There were a lot of other time management tips offered at this seminar, but these three seemed to be the most relevant and interesting, hence they are included here.
Do you have some time management tips to share with small business owners? If so, please share!