Running your own business can be extremely rewarding, but it takes a lot of hard work, patience and often, a fair amount of stress. Time management is one of the hardest things about working for yourself, but it can also be the key to success, which is why it is important to get it right. These tips will hopefully help you to find ways to manage your working time successfully.
Be realistic about what needs to be done and how long it will take. Rank tasks by importance and eliminate any that don’t really need doing, making sure that you prioritize the most important ones so that they get done first – preferably in the morning, when many people are at their most productive. Don’t overschedule yourself, and stick to tasks that actually need doing, delegating any that you can to an assistant (real or virtual) if you have that privilege.
2. Break Tasks Down
It can be overwhelming to look at the whole picture, so break tasks down into smaller, manageable parts. Figure out what needs doing for each part and set expectations for yourself for what you realistically want to achieve.
There are two approaches which people find helpful. The first is to start with a smaller, manageable task, giving yourself a confidence boost when you reach the first goal. The other way, is to get the biggest or hardest part done first, meaning everything that comes after will feel more manageable, and you don’t have the biggest part weighing on your mind. You will need to decide which works best for you.
Organization is often the key to success. Plan your time or try time blocking to ensure you have time set aside for everything on your to-do-list. Stick to your calendar or timetable, making sure you schedule everything on there to ensure it gets done – including downtime, which is often neglected by entrepreneurs. Set goals to help use your time efficiently, but remember to actually ‘do’ as well as plan! It is good to get into a routine, including rising early if possible, as this is when our brains tend to function at their best.
4. Take Breaks
It’s easy when running your own business to be in ‘work-mode’ constantly and never wanting to miss an opportunity, but this can be counterproductive. Make sure you take time to rest and re-charge, so that you return to work refreshed. You should also step back from your work every now and then to re-assess, or brainstorm. Give yourself a chance to think about how improvements could be made, or time saved, rather than just powering through.
If you are struggling with time management, take some time to research methods or even software or apps that can help. When you have found something that works, stick to it – don’t waste time trying to fix something that isn’t broken. If you can’t figure out why time is getting away from you, consider performing a time audit to see how long tasks are taking you and to see where you can make improvements.
6. Reduce Distractions
The worst enemy of the entrepreneur is distractions! Set up a suitable space dedicated to only your work, free from distractions. Don’t rely on your laptop or phone for everything, as there are too many distractions at the touch of a button, or consider separate devices for work and leisure.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for time management, and different approaches will suit different people. You may need to experiment to see which of these tips work best for you, either alone or in combination with others.