Once you make the commitment to start your own business, it’s typically an all or nothing endeavor. For most entrepreneurs, this means putting everything you have… heart, soul AND money, into making the business a success. In the start-up phase, that usually means long hours and a willingness to regularly give up things like lunch hours, days off, or work-free weekends. As the workload grows, so does the need for more time! While no amount of planning can cram more physical hours into the day, the ability to prioritize what is most important is a critical factor in your success. Ultimately, time is money, and not focusing on the right things…like profit, can be the deciding factor in whether or not your business grows or dies. So how DO you prioritize when it seems like EVERYTHING is a priority?
Here are our top 4 recommended time management priorities:
1. Know HOW you work
As an entrepreneur, you’re already working much more than an eight-hour day, but are those days optimized to take advantage of WHEN you are most focused and productive? As enticing as it may be, none of us are able to be productive all of the time. Identifying your most productive times of day will help you use your energy more efficiently. Just because “writing a blog post” is on your calendar at 2pm on Thursday afternoon doesn’t mean that’s the best time for you to be writing blog posts. It’s amazing how many things you can get done when you are in the “zone” for fifteen minutes verses trying to get an important task done at a random time of day… just because there’s open space on your calendar. Whether it’s starting bright and early or burning the late-night oil, identifying when and how you work best can save you a LOT of wasted time.
2. Incorporate Airplane Mode Into Your Day
Any time you fly, you shift into airplane mode. Although the temporary shutdown may seem inconvenient at the time, it’s a great way to shift out of the knee-jerk reactions that can be triggered by the bing of an incoming email or text message. The out-of-sight, out-of-mind aspect allows the mind to de-clutter and focus on the business in new ways. It also helps you think through tasks that you may have otherwise been stumped on. Take a cue from Tim Ferriss, author of the 4-Hour Workweek, and set up an email auto responder that lets clients know that you only respond to emails during set times of the day. If you are always responding to emails, alerts, texts and voice mails, you will find yourself living in reaction mode, and that makes it difficult to stay on top of projects. Which leads us to Tip #3….
3. Managing Tasks For Multiple Clients – Organization Eliminates Lost Revenue
Your business is growing, revenue is up, and you’re starting to get overwhelmed trying to meet all the monthly deadlines. If you are not organized at this stage of the game, you are likely going to drop some balls, which could end up translating into unhappy clients. There are a variety of business, organization and calendar apps available for all types of technology users, and many of them are free to use at the base levels. Even a free Gmail calendar gives you the ability to organize client work, business tasks, events and calendar alerts, and it translates well on mobile so it’s easy to stay on top of things no matter where you are. Disorganization is unprofessional and the more balls you drop, the less your clients trust you. Mismanagement of client work time can be a costly mistake so if you are trying to multi-task your way into getting more done by sacrificing concentrated time on those who pay your bills, you are only hurting your company in the long run. Which leads us to Tip #4….
4. Don’t Multi-Task
Multitasking is a weakness, not a strength. In 2010, a study by neuroscientists at the French medical research agency Inserm showed that when people focus on two tasks simultaneously, each side of the brain tackles a different task. This suggests a two-task limit on what the human brain can handle. Taking on more tasks increases the likelihood of errors, so Nass suggests what he calls the 20-minute rule. Rather than switching tasks from minute to minute, dedicate a 20-minute chunk of time to a single task, then switch to the next one. Time management experts estimate that focusing on one thing at a time will double productivity, work output, and performance. And when you’re running a small business, that can mean the difference between success and failure.
Do you need help getting systems in place? Virtual BeanCounters serves business owners and entrepreneurs with remote web and cloud-based finance applications. Let our professional accountants run your daily, weekly, or monthly bookkeeping and accounting, so you can run your business. Contact us by phone at (913) 649-1040 or click here to visit our Contact page.