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Time management hacks for overwhelmed small business owners

Time management hacks for overwhelmed small business owners
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Time management hacks for overwhelmed small business owners
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

As a small business owner, you’re likely wearing many hats, juggling everything from product sourcing to inventory management, front-end work, human resources, marketing, and more.

With a mile-long to-do list, it’s easy to learn time management the hard way, piling too much on our already full plate, becoming overwhelmed and stressed and even maybe missing a deadline!

Here, we share our top time management tips that will get you on your way to working smarter.

Identify your "top 3s" to position yourself for a successful week

Most business owners have hundreds of to-dos in their heads and it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. So, the first thing to do is drop everything that's in that swirling brain onto a sheet of paper. And then taking that sheet of paper, look for commonalities across tasks and group them.

By doing this, you may find there are some natural categories on the business side (e.g., admin needs, meetings, marketing ) as well as on the personal side (e.g., calls that need to be made, errands, etc.). Grouping similar tasks will help your brain execute them more efficiently.

Multitasking or constantly switching between tasks that use different parts of your brain can be detrimental to your productivity . When you are focused on working quickly, not efficiently, it can lead to mistakes and disrupt your ability to complete a task. Research shows that it takes 23 minutes to return to your original point of focus after an interruption. With limited time in the day to accomplish everything we need to do; another 20 minutes can go a long way toward checking off priority tasks.

After grouping tasks, think about your “top 3s” for each day. What are three tasks you’d like to complete on Monday, on Tuesday, and so on? Tasks that do not need to be completed this week are moved through this same exercise the following week.

Once, you’ve categorised your to-dos, refer back to your time blocks and note which tasks will be your top 3 for each day and in which time block you will put them. Then schedule these three tasks into your calendar to remind yourself what you plan to accomplish that day.

Get real about your strengths and weaknesses, and outsource as you need

It's time to face facts, humans are not suited for every role. When you recognise this, you can let go of the fear of letting yourself down.

Begin by conducting your own personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) assessment. Indeed, the very SWOT analysis you most likely performed for your company can also serve as a valuable tool for personal reflection. Take a moment to consider your strengths and your weaknesses, along with the opportunities you see for yourself in your business and the threats that are holding you back from achieving these goals.

When you complete your personal SWOT, show it to a trusted advisor who will be open and give you honest feedback—a friend, family member, colleague, or mentor. Then, take some time for self-reflection.

What themes are emerging? What strengths can you lean into? What weaknesses can you work on? Does it make sense to invest in education or outsource work that falls under your weaknesses list? Doing so will free up time in your schedule and reduce feelings of overwhelm.

Track your time

A time-tracking system, like Toggl , is an excellent small business time management solution. Tracking your time means knowing exactly how long you’re spending on each task that you do. When you accumulate this data over time, you can see how much time you’re investing in each part of your business.

Your time-tracking data may surprise you. For example, you may find out that you’re spending two or more hours a day answering emails and messages. That data might motivate you to change your communication processes or seek out an assistant to help you with certain tasks.

Rethink your to-do list

Instead of expecting that you’ll tackle your most daunting task in the morning, adopt a different mindset: FIFO (first in, first out).

To apply FIFO to your to-do list, write down the date when you add a new task to your list—and not just the date it’s due. When you start your workday, take a look at the tasks that have been sitting on your list for a couple of days and start there. This system takes the guesswork out of a complex prioritisation system—and you’ll feel so much better when you check off a task and can move on to something else.

Be aware of your most productive times

Pinpoint your best times throughout the day and maximize your use of that time, whether it’s crossing off as many short, easy tasks as you can from your to-do list or taking time to tackle your most difficult tasks. Plan your tasks around your internal and external factors. For example, consider the most intense tasks, those that need ultra-high focus and high energy levels, to be tackled early in the day, at a relatively quiet time for your business, to avoid disruptions or the dreaded afternoon slump. By considering these factors when planning your day, your tasks will feel easier to complete, because you are maximising the most naturally productive hours of your day.

Consider resetting your priorities

As small business owners, it’s just a reality that there is never enough time in the day to get everything done. Instead of looking at this as a failure and admitting defeat, take time to check in on the expectations you’ve set for yourself.

Dig out your business plan (especially important if it’s been a few years) and remind yourself of your core objectives. What did you originally set out to achieve? And realizing that the world has changed—especially in the last few years—and consumers’ habits, intentions, and priorities are changing, do your core objectives still feel right?

Resetting your priorities can be as easy as asking yourself if you had to remake your business plan today, how would you shift your objectives? What would you focus on, and what is no longer important?

Schedule YOU time

Set aside time to develop your messaging and brand as well as setting and building intentions for what your desired outcomes are for both your business and your personal life. If you don’t have a plan or don’t know the path you need to take, you won’t know where you are going. You will be most productive and manage your time better if you know exactly who and what your brand or business is. Define what and who it represents, and what your goals are. Taking time each week and month to review will help keep you on brand and on track, leading you to greater success.

Start implementing these strategies into your daily work routine and condition yourself to work smarter, so you can reap the benefits and freedom of being an entrepreneur. If you are looking for a workspace that aids productivity, collaboration, and flexibility, please contact us , we’d love to help.