When you’re a small business owner, you always have a million and one things on your mind. You’re trying to ensure that everything’s in order, that your customers are happy, and that you have one eye on the future. All these things take time, and before you know it, the day is over, and you’ve barely got through any of the things you wanted to achieve! But fear not, because you probably have more time than you realize. Below, we take a look at how you can get time back on your side.
Where’s the Time Going?
Before you begin the process of claiming your time back, you need to find out exactly where it’s going in the first place. Most people - not just business owners - have a faulty understanding of how they actually spend their days. You might have thought you put in a twelve-hour shift, but when it comes to closer inspection, you realise that actually a big part of your day was stuck in traffic, waiting for meetings to begin, getting a coffee, and so on. You won’t be able to do away with all these time wasters (everyone needs their coffee!), but you might find places where you can hurry things along.
Make an Old School Plan
Having a schedule that you actually stick to is a vastly underrated way to control your time. They were all the rage back in the day, but people don’t seem to give them the same levels of attention anymore - or if they do use them, it’s a digital calendar. While there’s nothing wrong with having your to-do list on your phone or laptop, it will make it more likely that you get distracted by other online things. There’s not much to distract you when you just have a piece of paper and a pen in your hand. The key is not to be too ambitious, and too prioritise all the things you want to achieve on any given day.
Learn to Delegate
It’s your business, so it's understandable that you’re going to take a pretty hands-on approach. But do you think there’s a chance you might be too hands on? As in, trying to do everything? If you have staff, then there’ll be a reason that you hired them - to help you! So let them help you. If you don’t trust them to take your business forward, then it’s likely that there’s something wrong with your hiring policy. In any case, by leaving your staff to get on with their work, you’ll be able to focus on the skills that the company’s success needs you to bring to the table. If you don't have staff then consider outsourcing tasks or hiring virtual help.
Bring in Outside Help
There are going to be things that you can’t entrust your staff with, such as when the task involves handling sensitive information or are too complex for a general worker to do to the standard required. For those types of tasks, look at outsourcing the work to an outside company. You can bring on board a business that specialises in accountancy services to handle your tax, pension schemes and other important business administration duties. You can also hire an SEO expert, which will mean you won’t have to learn all the confusing - and ever-changing - dimensions to becoming highly ranked on the search engines. Do these things, and you’ll be able to focus on the other crucial aspects of your business, full in the knowledge that the important details have been taken care of.
Studies have shown that society is having a harder time focusing on tasks than in the past. Think about it for a second, and it makes perfect sense! We’re constantly distracted by the buzzing of our phones, the flashing of advertisements, and the like: how could we be anything other than distracted? Once you’ve recognised that you’re struggling to stay focused, you can begin the journey to blocking out the distractions. It’s not all that difficult once you’ve trained your brain to be skeptical of those time wasters!
In an ideal world, everything that you do for your business would be perfect and unimprovable. But this is the real world, remember, and that means that you can’t have everything exactly as you want it. There are going to be times when “good enough” is going to have to be, well, good enough. If you’re endlessly striving for perfection, then you’re going to be wasting time that you don’t have just to make what is, in the grand scheme of things, not all that important.
Consider an Assistant
We’ve already established that you’re a pretty busy person. Wouldn’t it be nice if you had someone running your life behind the scenes, always ensuring that your schedule is in order and that you’re always where you need to be? It’s not a pipe dream - hire an assistant (either virtual or in real life), and you’ll have exactly that. They’re more affordable than you might think, and if they enable you to work harder and boost your company’s profits, then they’ll turn out to be excellent value for money.
Know Your Productive Hours
Humans have got into the habit of working the traditional 9-5 shift, but we’re slowly moving away from that, for one simple reason: it might not be all that effective. If you’re someone that doesn’t really get into the groove of the day until after lunch, then there’ll be little point trying to get all your important duties taken care of the second you get into the office. Learn when you are at your brilliant best, and make sure you’re completing all the most important tasks during those hours, leaving your sluggish hours for the boring, mindless tasks.
Finally, remember that one of the best ways to get more time in your professional life is by saying no! You’re going to have thousands of requests throughout a year. Learn how to politely turn them down, and you’ll find that you have much more time in your life.