How to manage time while running a small business

Time is precious, particularly when it comes to running a small business. Yet there are never more than 24 hours in a day. Some entrepreneurs respond to this fact of life with focus and purpose. Others freak out.

Are you in the latter group? You don’t have to be. With the right approach, you can work efficiently, productively, and relatively stress-free.

Here are few tips for effectively managing your time:

  1. Know your goals.

Make sure you’re engaging in activities that support your business goals, both short- and long-term. Everything else is a potential time-waster. Your daily plan should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to generating income and growing your business.

  1. Prioritize wisely.

Stephen Covey, co-author of First Things First, offers an organizational tool for your to-do list based on how important and urgent tasks are.

  1. Just say no.

You’re the boss. If you have to decline a request in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent, do not hesitate to do so. The same goes for any projects or activities that you’ve determined are headed nowhere: Be prepared to move on to more productive tasks. Learn from the experience to avoid wasting time later on.

  1. Plan ahead.

One of the worst things you can do is jump into the workday with no clear idea about what needs to get done. The time you spend thinking ahead and planning your activities is trivial compared with the time you’ll lose jumping from one thing to the next.

  1. Eliminate distractions.

Start paying attention to the number of times someone interrupts you when you’re in the midst of an important task. Track self-induced interruptions, too, particularly those of the social media variety. Your smartphone is extremely useful, but it’s also addictive and among the most insidious time-wasters known to mankind.

  1. Delegate more often.

If you’ve done a good job of hiring talented, dedicated employees, there’s always more work they can take off your desk. Running a successful small business depends upon the owner’s ability to think about what lies ahead and not get mired in day-to-day operations. Look for opportunities to pass responsibility for specific tasks to others on your team.

  1. Watch what you spend

How many productive minutes are you packing in each week? Use this simple timesheet tracker by TSheets to quickly and easily clock in and out of various tasks or projects throughout the day. Switch jobs or tasks with just one click using the TSheets mobile app, or track time directly from your desktop. Then generate robust, real-time reports to see exactly where you’re spending your most valuable asset — and where it’s being wasted.

  1. Take care of yourself.

Be sure to get plenty of sleep and exercise. An alert mind is a high-functioning mind and one that’s less tolerant of time-wasting activities.