How to effectively manage your time as a small business owner

Our recent Mentoring Breakfast was led by Ada Obi, founder of ADAVIRTUAL Business Support. Ada founded the company in 2015 with a vision of making it the ultimate virtual administration and operational support for fast growing businesses who need to manage their time and business operations efficiently.

During the session Ada focused the importance of working smarter, not harder, and challenged our entrepreneurs to identify their day-to-day tasks that are ‘Time Stealers’.

Thank you for an informative session Ada!

By Ada Obi

Here’s the scenario: You have £86,400 to spend on your business at the start of each day. You can’t save it for another day, and it disappears at the end of each day whether or not you’ve spent it.

What would you spend it on? Marketing your business? Buying a new office? Hiring a new staff member? You’d probably try very hard to make the most of the amount and make sure none of it goes to waste.

There are 86,400 seconds in a day, and, like our fictional money, it too can’t be banked or carried over to the next day. So why don’t we view our time in the same way?

Once you realise how valuable your time as a business owner is, you’ll start to use it more effectively.

By following the simple time management cycle below, you can start to prioritise the most important things that are actually worth your time.

  1. Identify your time stealers
  2. Apply the right techniques
  3. Make a plan
  4. Evaluate your progress

1. Identify your Time Stealers

Wasting time is a luxury a small business owner can’t afford. The biggest time stealers include:

  • Procrastination – many of us often push important tasks to the bottom of the to-do list. This could be because of a lack of knowledge about where to begin or a fear of failure
  • Distraction – in a world of constant notifications and updates, there’s always some device or app that’s able to side-track you from accomplishing what you want to achieve.
  • Overwhelm – it’s normal for small business owners to wear lots of different hats but sometimes trying to do too much by yourself might cause you to feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.
  • Lack of prioritising or planning – as the famous saying goes ‘fail to plan and plan to fail’. Many of us often forget to prioritise tasks and plan out our time to make sure that we are able to actually achieve what we set out to do
  • No systems – many small business owners don’t have the right systems and processes in place and so aren’t able to harness the power of automation!

2. Techniques

All is not lost! There are some simple techniques that anyone can implement in their daily work life to become more efficient with their time.

Time Stealer: Procrastination

Technique: Time Chunking – if a task feels too big to handle, break it down into smaller 30 minutes ‘chunks’ to make it more digestible.

Time Stealer: Distraction

Technique: Time-blocking – block out sections of time throughout the day to focus on one task. Use apps such as Boomerang to bulk reply and schedule emails throughout the day so that you’re not distracted by an open inbox.

Time Stealer: No Systems

Technique: Systemise and batch your tasks – there are so many systems that can help automate many of the day-to-day tasks that have to be completed to run a business. Zapier is a third-party platform which allows different systems to talk to one another. By creating workflows in Zapier many administrative tasks such as creating project forms and sending invoices can be automated.

Here are some brilliant tools small business owners can use!

Marketing & Automation

  • Hootsuite
  • Hubspot
  • Mailchimp

Workflows & Collabs

  • Trello
  • G-Suite
  • LastPass
  • Slack
  • Zapier

Customer Operations

  • Zen
  • HelloSign
  • Calendly
  • Nicereply

Time Stealer: Overwhelm

Technique: Delegate and outsource – build a trusted team of employees and consultant and trust them. It’s important to remember you can’t do everything on your own. Do what you do best and delegate the rest.

Think about what only you can do, what someone else can do and what someone else should do

3. Make A Plan

Starting your day with a clear plan of what you want to achieve is so important. After writing your to do list think about:

  • twhat is urgent and important for you to do (do this immediately)
  • what’s not urgent but important for you to do (defer to later in the day or week)
  • what’s urgent but not important for you to do (delegate this to an employee or contractor)
  • what’s not urgent and not important (delete this)

Then create a timeline of priority tasks that you need to complete!

4. Evaluate your progress

As with most things, it’s always good practice to sit back a review how the small changes that you’ve implemented are working for you. Think about:

  • What went well this week?
  • Is there anything you could have done better?
  • Thinking about what you’ve achieved throughout the week, has it put you in a better position to achieve your goals?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
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Published: 05 March 2021