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  • Joanne Butcher

TIPS ON MANAGING TIME WHEN RUNNING A SMALL BUSINESS

I will be the first to put my hand up and admit that managing time when running a small business is hard.


There are so many things that need your attention each and every day.


Such as administration, marketing, chasing leads, taking care of clients or keeping your website up to date and SEO optimised. After taking care of all of that, there’s hardly any time left to actually do whatever it is you started your business to do!


The important thing to realise here though is that there’s not a lot you can do about being busy.


As a small business owner, you’re always going to have a pretty packed schedule. That is at least until you can start to pay other people to do some of the work for you.


The best you can do is make sure your time is well-managed, so you can pack as much productivity into the time you have as possible.


Here are some of my favourite tips on managing time when running a small business. Hopefully, they’ll help you and your business thrive through even the most hectic of working days.


1) Set a schedule and stick to it

If you don’t create a plan on a daily basis, becoming disorganised is easy. So rule number one, always start the day with a clear plan of what you want to achieve.


I believe that it’s crucial to make sure you record all your meetings and appointments in one place. Don't have them scattered throughout different calendars, notebooks, and apps. It saves time to only have to check one calendar. And it will also help ensure that you are not double booking or missing any meetings.


Before each week starts, have a look at your calendar. Notice any approaching deadlines and block out the time needed to get those projects completed. Once you have factored in any meetings you have booked, divide up the rest of your available time into different areas such as ‘customer care’, ‘general admin’ and ‘marketing’. This will ensure your week is evenly balanced between the different areas of your business. It also ensures that certain tasks don’t get forgotten about. (My blog on time blocking goes into more detail about this).


It is important to recognise here, that things will change as the week goes on. And that is part of running a business. The good news is that when you have set up a structure, and things arise at the last minute, it's a lot easier to deal with them.


2) Avoid multitasking


In some ways, multitasking seems like a good idea: by working on more than one task at once, you are theoretically being more productive. But far from increasing productivity, switching back and forth between tasks actually makes those same tasks take even longer. This ultimately slows down the pace at which work can be completed.


Many successful people report their most creative and productive work takes place in a "flow" that allows them to focus completely on the task at hand.


I suggest trying to focus on a single task for at least twenty minutes before moving on to the next.

If you must multitask, try to switch back and forth between no more than two projects at a time; the more tasks you try to complete at once, the harder your brain must work. AND the less likely you are to remain productive.


3) Keep your workspace organised

The value of an organised workspace is severely underestimated, especially considering it contributes to productivity. Clutter is your number one enemy. All those useless papers that are taking up space in your drawers, trays and desk? Do away with them immediately!


Even though the majority of us will operate a paperless office these days, a decent filing system is still vital.


With a good filing system in place, digital or paper, you will immediately know what to do with all those memos, reports, client files and documents. Knowing that you will never misplace documents or files will give you confidence and will save you the time spent trying to find things.


The same goes for your email inbox too and I give some useful tips on keeping your inbox organised in my article ‘Managing Email Effectively’.


4) Remove Distractions


Ever been completely focused on the task at hand only to have a notification announcing that you have a new email in your inbox? Or a beep from your mobile phone to indicate a new comment on your latest social media post? And just like that, your focus is broken and your attention has been taken elsewhere.


In a world filled with nonstop news coverage and social media that never sleeps, it may seem like you can never disconnect. Rest assured you can and you definitely should. As any leader of a successful business will agree, there are never enough hours in the workday. Therefore, one of the most immediate ways to gain back some much needed time is by removing these distractions.


If you can, try to have blocks of time throughout your day that are purely focused on work. No checking on your email or social media profiles should be allowed during that time. Also, if possible, have your phone switched off too.


By removing those distractions at certain times, you will remain focused for longer and be more productive.


5) Embrace automation and set up workflows


Managing time when running a small business can feel impossible at times. Especially when you have to remember all the repetitive tasks that happen each week. When I start working with clients, one of the first things I do is encourage them to look at how they can streamline their business through automation and creating workflows.

Many small business owners feel that automation is just for big companies, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.


I work out what repetitive tasks they have to do on a weekly or monthly basis. Then I help them create workflows that will do those tasks automatically for them.


Think about the repetitive tasks you do every month, such as invoicing, posting on social media, or updating databases to name a few. Creating workflows for these tasks so that they happen automatically will free up your time to focus on the big picture tasks.


There are so many wonderful platforms that can help you do this these days. One of my favourite ones is Zapier, as it can connect apps you may already be using in your business and it can be totally free depending on your needs. Definitely worth checking out.


6) Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate


Even after implementing all of the tips I have mentioned above, you may still find managing your time when running your small business tough to do all by yourself.


When starting a new business, working late into the evening, or at weekends may be fine, to begin with. After a while, however, you may find your health and relationships start to suffer because of it. Working this way is not sustainable in the long run. If this is you then it’s time to consider delegating some tasks to someone else.


Working with a Virtual Assistant


Virtual Assistants can help with tasks such as social media management, diary or inbox management, content creation or SEO optimisation. And outsourcing those tasks will free up chunks of your valuable time. Giving you back a better balance to your day.


One of the advantages of working with a Virtual Assistant, such as myself, is that they already have a variety of skills to support businesses. They can hit the ground running so to speak and will only need a minimal amount of time to get to know the business before starting to tackle your to-do list.


They are also very flexible in how much or how little time you use them for each week. And the time they do work for you is super productive. Just having them work for a couple of hours each week could mean the difference between you having to work at the weekend or not.


If you are at the point in your business where you would like to reclaim precious hours each week or want to stop catching up with admin at the weekend, then it’s time we had a chat.


Book in a discovery call with me and let's see how I can give you back some valuable time.


 

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