Many small business owners are accustomed to burning the candle at both ends. In fact, 39 percent report working up to 60 hours per week. It’s no wonder time management tips are so commonly sought out by busy small business owners.
Are you a professional who finds the idea of a 40-hour workweek laughable? Test out these time management tips and “work” your way to a more productive week.
1. Make a Schedule Based on Your Personal Productivity Fluctuations
Your productivity and energy levels may swing like a pendulum throughout the day. The trick to tackling your most important tasks is to capitalize on the portions of the day when you have the most momentum.
Duke University psychology and behavioral economics professor Dan Ariely found that for much of the workforce, the most productive block of time occurs within the first two hours of their workday. He recommends using this time to tackle highly cognitive tasks, like strategically mapping out your day or completing creative projects.
If you know you struggle to concentrate in the late afternoon, save that time for tasks requiring less brainpower. Try responding to emails instead of scheduling end-of-day meetings or tackling important deadlines.
Compartmentalizing tasks based on the inherent ebbs and flows of your energy level can help you remain productive throughout your day.
2. Find Creative Ways to Limit Distractions
Once you find your flow, it’s important to stay on task. However, between the onslaught of push notifications and needy clients, most of us face large-and small-scale distractions every three minutes. That can be even more often if you’re working from home with kids in the house. While some of these interruptions can be quickly addressed, getting back to the original task at hand takes an average of 23 minutes.
There’s a clear takeaway: cut out two small distractions from your workday and you’ve potentially saved yourself an hour of billable time!
Try a combination of these techniques to help you stay focused:
- Find playlists you can work to. We love instrumental music and useful online options like SimplyNoise.
- Close browser windows you don’t need. This will save you from tempting distractions. If you’re worried about losing track of important tabs, use a tool like Session Buddy to save your tabs for later. If you’re using Chrome, you can also hide unused tabs away inside a tab group.
- Turn off notifications and set your phone to airplane mode. If you’re worried about time sensitive notifications, do this only for short sprints of time when you need to maintain intense focus.
- Keep a healthy snack at your desk. Hunger is distracting, and so is getting up to search for snacks.
3. Limit Your Priorities
When you’re running a small business, anything related to your company is ultimately your responsibility. But, as the adage says, “If everything is important, then nothing is.”
Not everything requires equal attention, and having an expansive to-do list can lead to task paralysis. By keeping your priority list short, you automatically hone your focus. For more than 72 percent of small business owners, this concentration hinges largely on developing high-level strategies that can help grow their businesses.
Which leads us directly to our next topic…
4. Learn the Art of Delegation by Automation
After you’ve culled the list of priorities down to the essentials, what’s next? The short answer: delegating them!
For some small business owners, this means hiring a part-time assistant to help manage the schedule or answer emails. Others turn to online assistants like Upwork or Zirtual for general task management and website maintenance.
And nearly 50 percent of companies use some form of marketing automation to get more out of their day. (Think customized email blasts and social media campaigns tailored to your customers.)
Bonus Tip: We can automate your marketing!
5. Stay Organized
Ever found yourself shuffling through business cards to find the one you want? Or logging in and out of multiple apps to get the information you need about a client? Or scrolling through an endless list of emails in search of the one you’re looking for? All of that takes time, and when you add it up over days and weeks, it can become a significant amount. Organization pays off not just in peace of mind but in actual minutes of your life.
Fortunately, there are apps to streamline nearly every repetitive, headache-inducing task you can think of. We compiled a list of our five favorite organization apps, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
If you start following all these tips, you should see an immediate uptick in your daily free time. And don’t forget that we’re here to save you even more time by taking marketing off your plate.