A recent survey from software giant Sage North America found that time management is the second-biggest personal difficulty or challenge for startup business owners, ranked only behind work / life balance. The results are not surprising, as trying to figure out how to manage time more effectively often seems like a never-ending task for small-business owners. Although there are no easy answers, there are some smart ways to get your time under control.
- Prioritize. I know, it's easier said than done. And entrepreneurs are always encountering fires to put out and emails to answer that bury their priority lists under a new pile of crucial tasks. To feel like you’ve actually accomplished something, identify one task you must absolutely take care of each day, and focus on getting it done. Whether it’s a big proposal, a job for a key client, or planning a marketing campaign, do that item first thing in the day and then start putting out those fires.
- Mobilize. Smartphones and tablet computers have revolutionized the lives of small-business owners; but the real key to using these tools productively is to store your crucial business information in the cloud so you can access it anywhere. You also need some solid business apps to help you stay organized – for example, an app for CRM like Salesforce makes keeping track of clients a breeze, while Evernote lets you take text, photo, and audio notes so you won’t forget something important.
- Outsource. Get some help with the parts of your business you don’t have time for like accounting, sales, or IT. If you have little tasks you need done, check out websites like TaskRabbit and Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, where you can put small jobs up for bid.
- Breathe. Whether you want to believe it or not, you need to take a break from your business once in a while – your health and the health of your business depend on it. Make the end of the year not only a time to look back on your business and make some tweaks, but also to look back on how much time you gave yourself. If the answer is "not much," know that stepping away from the business for even a short time can help you feel reenergized and ready to tackle those crucial tasks.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.