11 Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

“It is not enough to be busy… The question is what are we busy about?” – Henry David Thoreau
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.” – Zig Ziglar

The best way to measure your time is to schedule everything and to be mindful of where your times goes. You can download a time management app like Toggl to see where you time goes, how much time you spend on projects and different tasks. Here are some ideas and tips you can ponder on and get the ones that work for you.

1. Divide and conquer
Zig Ziglar suggests you divide your day in 15 minutes time slots in your appointment book, plus divide the day in three columns: “task”, “about what project or field”, “priority”. The first two are supposed to be filled in during the day, while the last one – priority –, should only be marked at the end of the day with 1 = very well – tasks that bring profit; 2 = ok, but if I do this daily I won’t reach my objectives; 3=low/weak, too many of these make me sad and maybe jobless too.

2. Get enough sleep, eat healthy and exercise
A healthy lifestyle improves productivity. 7 to 8 hours of sleep is what most people need for their body and mind to function optimally. Sleeping less hours to clock in more tasks won’t make you more productive. Enough sleep, healthy eating habits and exercising will though. For working out ideas and planning, this article on amazing fitness apps to right right now could be a helpful resource.

3. TV and Social Media are thieves  
All that precious time you spend on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter is like a black hole, as social media has this dangerous power of making time disappear. You’re relaxing on the sofa saying you’re just checking your Instagram account for 5 minutes. Two hours later you’re still there looking at the screen, being fueled with unnecessary information about the lives of people you don’t know and don’t even care much about. A better idea would be to stop that social media invasion and decide to be the owner of your time. Plan a limited number of minutes on Facebook if you feel there’s some addiction going on, then close the blue screen and move on to more noble things which make a better use of your time.

4. Quit perfectionism
You’re detail oriented and that’s great! There’s so much value in that quality. But there’s a certain amount of danger too, as perfectionism can also drag you down. Trying to constantly revise your work is sometimes counterproductive. Do your work and resist the temptation to check it a million times. Just move on and do more of the tasks you need to do. This way you can achieve more.

5. Think results
What do you want to achieve? Start with the end in mind. This way less time will be wasted on unimportant and unproductive tasks. It’s a quite deep idea actually. Ponder on it and try it, see how this changes your mind-frame towards the task at hand.

6. Early morning planning for night owls
Did I say planning the morning? That is correct. Either if you’re an early bird or a night owl, doing the most important thing at the start of your day seems to be the best timing according to specialists. You might think it won’t work for you as you’re a night owl, but it actually seems to be true that a person can focus well on a certain task even if they feel they’re still half asleep. That sleepiness is positive because it also reduces the noise of other tasks, it takes away that worry about other things not related to the task at hand.

7. Your week at a glance
Plan your week on a Saturday, Sunday or Monday morning, before you actually start it. There’s power in planning. Something you need to be aware of is that a week has highest and lowest moments energy-wise. Monday tends to be a lower energy day, right after the weekend, productivity it’s not at it’s tops. Tuesday and Wednesdays are generally people’s most productive days. Motivation levels are up, people are on task, focused, driven and results oriented. On Thursdays people start thinking about their weekend plans. Energy levels are beginning to drop, people are less focused. Then Friday is a good day for networking and events. Plan your week wise and win it.

8. Most important task first
You’ve heard it before and you know it well. If you’re a procrastinator (as kind of I am too), you probably struggle big time with this one. Solution? We gotta change, pal. As we realize how procrastinating is not doing us too much good, we can be more mindful of it. And fighting it instead of sugar coating it is the way to go. Here are some specific steps to take to stop procrastinating.

9. The 5 seconds rule redefined
This rule says that if you have an impulse to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the idea. Quite interesting, right? It seems to be true though. You’ve got lots of things to do and you also know which is that most important task you need to get on, but you completely lack motivation. What can you do to get into the inspiration phase? Look around and to something you can do in 5 seconds. It could a small task on your list, or simply washing your coffee cup. Whatever little action you can do which can get you into a productive mood, do that. It will lead to another little or big action which will keep you more motivated.

10. Buy more time – for free
Yes, you can do that. It involves better planning and managing your appointments well. How? Starting to use Appointfix scheduling app to manage your appointments and send automated text message reminders to your clients. You don’t even have to buy it. The Basic plan includes up to 100 FREE text message reminders/month for your clients. It can save you loads of time, so check out the app to see it. You can download Appointfix here if you’re an Apple/iOS fan, or here if you’re using Android.

11. You’re not Napoleon
Don’t multitask, because you’re not really multitasking. Here’s why multitasking is not a good idea, no matter how big of a Napoleon you think you are. As a personal lesson here, my parents taught me from an early age about Napoleon’s multitasking skills. They were insisting on the fact that I was not Napoleon, so instead of doing a few things at once superficially and half well, I should do just ONE task at a time and do it well. Why Napoleon though? Because it was believed that only he could do many things at once. 🙂 How have people reached that conclusion?

Based on this quote from Napoleon Bonaparte apparently: “Different subjects and different affairs are arranged in my head as in a cupboard. When I wish to interrupt one train of thought, I shut that drawer and open another. Do I wish to sleep, I simply close all the drawers and then I am – asleep.” Judging on this quote though, the truth finally comes to surface I’d say. And that is that not even Napoleon multitasked. He shut one task/drawer before moving to the next one.

Plus you make plenty of mistakes when you multitask. Here are 12 reasons to stop multitasking now. Check them out. The idea is that when you’re focused on two or more different activities at once, you miss important details in both. So take something on and don’t stop until you’ve finished it.

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” – Charles Richards

“If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four hours sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln

Emilia is Marketing Director at Appointfix, an app helping professionals and small businesses easily schedule appointments and reduce client no-shows using automated text reminders. Feel free to drop her an email at emilia.pustan@appointfix.com.