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4 Simple time management tips for small business owners

Don’t waste time with tasks that won’t help your bottom line. Learn how with these 4 simple small business time management tips.

Whether you’re a sole proprietor or have several employees, understanding different time management strategies – and using them – can help increase productivity and profitability for your small business. These 4 time management tips are designed to help you work smarter, rather than harder.

 

#1: Find and use a prioritization method

You don’t need to plan out every minute (or even hour) of every day to manage your time effectively. Instead, look at your day and week in broad strokes: What needs to be done today, tomorrow, by the end of the work week?

 

While there are many different time management strategies, the following are some common approaches and how you might use them in your business:

 

The ABC Method:1 This simple method asks you to rank each to-do as A, B, or C. Once you have completed that step, work through all A items before moving onto B and eventually C.

  • If you find yourself distracted by low-priority tasks and ending the day with big tasks hanging over your head, the ABC method can help you focus on the important stuff while saving those smaller to-dos for later in the day when you’re running out of steam.
  • Business example: A floral shop owner may sit down in the morning before the store opens and decide he has 3 to-dos: repricing old vases, cutting employee paychecks, and reviewing his wholesaler’s options for Mother’s Day. The owner might assign A to getting checks out, B to identifying what flowers he might want to purchase, and C to repricing vases. With that list in place, the owner has an order for taking care of each task.

 

The Pareto Principle: Also known as the 80/20 rule, this strategy helps identify the activities that will have the greatest return on effort.

  • If you tend to get swept up in perfectionism, this method may help steer your attention towards completing crucial tasks instead of frittering away hours fine-tuning every project or document.
  • Business example: That same floral shop owner reviews his product offerings and the time associated with each. Despite flower arrangements for funerals making up the bulk of his orders, he spends 30% of his day creating bouquets for birthdays. By utilizing the Pareto Principle, the owner is able to reconfigure his priorities – focusing his time and energy on the actities that have the greatest return on investment.

 

The POESC Method:2 This holistic approach to time management follows five steps – prioritize, organize, streamline, economize, and contribute.

  • Unlike the other two methods, this strategy is about more than productivity, but instead involves working towards your goals. 
  • Business example: Because the POESC Method focuses on daily, weekly, and monthly to-dos, the floral shop owner considers what he would like to accomplish by the end of March. He identifies filing his taxes early as a priority. Using the POESC Method, he breaks that large task up into a set of smaller to-dos that won’t be his top priority day-to-day, but will move him closer and closer to having his taxes filed early.

 

#2: Find ways to delegate business responsibilities

As a small business owner, you probably want to be involved in as many of the day-to-day business decisions as possible. While that inclination is understandable, it isn’t possible to be involved in everything as your business grows.

 

Whether or not you’re comfortable handing off responsibilities will likely hinge on your employees’ experience handling similar tasks. As a rule of thumb, the following business responsibilities can typically be delegated:

  • Administrative tasks: Flight reservations, hotel accommodations, managing the company inbox, addressing customer complaints, and scheduling appointments – the list of administrative to-dos can go on and on. 
  • Accounting and bookkeeping: Maintaining financial records and preparing tax materials are an essential part of business, but that doesn’t mean you need to be the one doing that bookkeeping. If possible, hire a qualified accountant to periodically review your books and prepare your tax filings.
  • Marketing: From overseeing your organization’s social media pages to designing branded stationary, it can be easy to micromanage the development of promotional material. Instead, focus your energy on reviewing final products rather than all the intermediate steps.

 

#3: Minimize distractions to boost work productivity

Despite our best efforts, distractions are just a part of work. Email notifications, Slack messages, texts, and social media alerts only make it easier to get sidetracked. Time blocking can help you cut down on distractions, free up your mental bandwidth, and allow you to work more productively.

 

Rather than trying to get multiple things done at once, break up your day (or week) into blocks that you dedicate to one to-do item.

 

As you block out your day, consider dedicating a set period of time to the following task:

  • Asynchronous communication: Instead of checking and responding to messages as they pop up on your screen, set aside time in the morning, noon, and afternoon to review and respond to messages in one fell swoop.
  • Relaxation and distraction: It’s unrealistic to expect that anyone, yourself included, to remain productive 100% of the workday. When setting up your daily schedule, remember to set aside time for regular breaks. Not only will that time away from your desk make you happier, it can also help you to get more done. 

 

#4: Separate out business expenses

Keeping your business and personal purchases separate can streamline your tax filing and make it easier to track expenses throughout the year.

 

An easy way to track your business expenses is by applying for a small business credit card and using it for all business-related purchases. When you need to see what you’ve spent, you can simply download a record of your business transactions. And with the Amazon Business Prime American Express Card, you can earn rewards or choose flexible payment terms like 5% Back or 90 Day Terms on U.S. purchases at Amazon Business, AWS, Amazon.com, and Whole Foods Market with an eligible Prime membership. Earn 5% Back on the first $120,000 in purchases each calendar year, 1% Back thereafter. Terms apply. 

 

1https://success.oregonstate.edu/sites/success.oregonstate.edu/files/LearningCorner/Tools/prioritize_-_3_methods_20.pdf

2https://learn.org/articles/POSEC_The_Acroynm_That_Could_Change_Your_Life.html

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