As the old saying goes, time waits for no man…or woman for that matter. And as a home-based or other small business opportunity or franchise owner who has to do it all, all of the time, nobody knows that better than you. Running your own operation, even if you do have some help, can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know how to manage your time well.
Ironically and unfortunately, managing what little time you do have in a given day, week, month or even year takes more of the one thing you already don’t believe you have enough of…time! But you’ve got to overcome that psychological hurdle because, for small business owners in particular, time management is a classic no pain, no gain scenario. It invariably takes a certain degree of upfront planning and conscious decision-making, all of which is more than worth the payoff in terms of reduced stress and greater productivity, not to mention increased profitability. After all, time saved really is money.
So what steps can home-based business opportunity, franchise and other small business owners take to manage their time more efficiently? Here are some tips:
• Have a firm understanding of where your time is going. First and foremost, you’ve got to have a truthful appreciation for how you spend your time each day, and that requires record-keeping…at least at first. Let’s face it. You can’t change something if you don’t know what it is. Take a week to write down every task you do and for how long each day. You will be amazed when you see just how much information you can learn about yourself by doing this one simple exercise.
• Make planning part of your daily routine. Even if it’s only five minutes in the morning to make a list of what it is you need to accomplish that day so that you can check it off as you go, making a conscious effort to plan each day is crucial.
• Watch the clock. Have a large display clock nearby so that there’s never any doubt what time it is. In this day and age where we keep time on tiny devices in our pockets, it’s far too easy to lose track and get distracted.
• Separate the essential from the non-essential. Do not allow things that are not pressing to take up your time when things that are more important are bearing down on you. If you are avoiding a particular task that is essential to your success for whatever reason, either carve out small blocks of time each day to make yourself focus on it, or farm it out.
• Learn to say “no.” You’ve got to know what your own boundaries are. Then you have to set them and stick to them, especially when taking on too much will ultimately affect the quality of the work you do and your own well-being.
• Enlist technology wherever you can. Mobile apps, computer software programs, cloud computing options…the list of technological advancements that really can and will make your life easier is practically endless. If maximizing those options means spending a little time and money sooner rather than later to figure it all out, you’ll soon see that it is well spent.
• Use outside resources if at all possible. Are their tasks that you don’t like doing or are not particularly good at that are eating up your time and that you can delegate to someone else? If so, and you can afford it, do it.
• Leave wiggle room. Carving out time to get a project done or meet a deadline means leaving room for error and having enough of it to do a quality job, so you need to be realistic and fair in your expectations of yourself and those around you.
• Block out distractions. Social media, telephone calls, visitors, even kids and pets…the list of possible daily distractions, especially when you work from a home office, is long. You’ve got to do whatever it takes to lessen them and the impact they have on your day.
• Maximize your wait time. Waiting is a part of life, but time is too precious to small business owners for that time to be spent idle. Have tools and resources at your disposal so that you can be productive if you have to wait for someone or something. It will minimize your frustration, but only if you’re not consciously making the effort to adhere to this last tip…
• Take time for yourself. Ultimately, if you’re a one-man or woman shop, your business is only as healthy and productive as you are. That’s why it’s every bit as if not more important that you take care of yourself. Eat right, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Plus, take time away from business when and if you need to, even if it’s just a short break to walk the dog, get some fresh air and clear your head.