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Time management for the time-poor: how business owners can maximise every minute

business-articlesTime management for the time-poor: how business owners can maximise every minute
Getting a business off the ground can be incredibly labour intensive, and once you’ve got it up and running, day-to-day operations can easily start to take up all your time.

But when you’re bogged down and busy with everyday tasks it can be tricky to find the time to strategize and come up with the plans necessary to help your business grow.

Here are our top tips for making sure you’re maximising every minute, time is money after all…

Understanding the time management matrix

If you’re envious of those who seem to sail through their workload every day while you struggle to make headway with even the smallest of tasks, it’s time to review your time management skills.

A popular method to help get your head around how you should be dividing up your daily tasks is to employ the Covey Time Management Grid.

Created by management guru Stephen R. Covey, this system involves separating your daily tasks into four distinct categories so you can visualise where you would be best spending your time.
  • Urgent and important tasks are issues that are critical to the everyday operation of your business, e.g. dispatching orders and responding to customer enquiries. Most of your day should be spent focusing on these tasks.
  • Non urgent, but important tasks are any tasks which may be important to the expansion of your business but are not time-sensitive, e.g. sourcing new products and streamlining your expenses. Allocate regular time to these tasks but place a limit on it (e.g. no more than an hour at a time)
  • Urgent, but not important tasks are the necessary parts of running a business, but which don’t add direct value, e.g. admin and general emails. Try to devote around a third of your day to these tasks.
  • Non urgent and not important tasks are all the little things you may do throughout the day that have no impact on your business, e.g. browsing the internet and making personal phone calls. Unsurprising Covey suggests these tasks should be ignored.

Getting into a routine

With this in mind you can create a new routine.

Split your day off into blocks of time, fill this with your daily chores and then stick to the plan. Crucially, ignore anything which isn’t planned (within reason) and set yourself an achievable list of goals for the day.

While you may still need to be flexible at times, and while your plan may need to alter at different times of the year, getting into a routine and sticking with it is a tried and tested method to help manage your time so that it is being spent as efficiently as possible.

Cutting down on meetings

Anyone who has to spend time in meetings, whether in or outside of the office, knows how much of a time sink they can be, with them often running over due to delays getting started or someone going off on a tangent.

To help elevate these issues you should try and set strict limits on the maximum time you’ll allow a meeting to run, and you should work them into specific times of the day (where possible), like first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon. By doing this you limit the amount of disruption caused by the meeting and optimise the time spent working.

On top of this you should analyse whether an issue actually requires a face-to-face meeting or whether it could be discussed over the phone, you will often find a 10 minute call is far more efficient as people get straight to the point.

Automating tasks and delegating to your team

Making use of the right software can be a godsend when it comes to managing your time and improving your efficiency, especially when it comes to automating some of your work.

Automation could be the key to truly getting on top of your workload by cutting down time you waste on mundane daily tasks and allowing you to more effectively distribute your time.

While not everything can be automated, if you’re regularly spending time on a task which doesn’t require a personal touch it may be a good candidate for automation.

For instance, you can prepare your promotional emails months in advance and then automate their release for key dates in the business calendar.
If something requires personal attention, don’t be afraid to delegate. Trying to run every aspect of your business yourself is a recipe for disaster, and effectively dividing work between your team allows you to focus on more pressing tasks.

Managing your time effectively is vital concept that many business owners struggle to get their head around, but by taking a step back and assessing how you’re currently spending your time, you’ll quickly determine areas which can be improved.

Improving your personal productivity could have a dramatic impact on the productivity of your business– and investing a bit of time doing the ground work now could reap dividends in the future.

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