It’s always a juggle with time; there never seems to be enough of it! No matter how much you seem to plan things in, something always seems to get in the way. Creating a time management plan is always hailed as the answer – but is it realistic?
I’m a firm believer in having lists and prioritising tasks but sometimes other jobs need to be done first and then the plan goes out of the window!
When you are self-employed, time management becomes a constant battle as you try to juggle work and your home life, especially if you work from home. The competing priorities of work life and family life are constantly vying for your attention and the thought of being able to better plan and manage your day seems like a dream.
There is another way! With some simple changes to your day, you can make time management a vital part of your life… and you will soon benefit from the changes.
In my book ‘Your Business Your Numbers’ I state that:
Every respondent to a survey I sent out [to clients] stated that time management was one of their biggest weaknesses and also named it as one of the main factors holding them back. Maybe it’s one of yours too?
Why is time management so important?
Makes you more effective
Lowers your stress
Helps you to focus
I am sure that each of these benefits would have a big impact in your life!
Think about how you spend your time both at work and outside it. When you start being honest with yourself and jotting down everything that takes up part of your working day, the results can be surprising.
A slide from my online course Mastering the Mindset of Success shows just some of the things that distract us:
Does any of this seem familiar?
Time management in your business
It’s essential to get a time management system in place in order to have a successful business (and a positive impact on your home life!).
The first step is to record how you spend your time so you know how many hours you’re working. It’s also beneficial to break these hours down into:
Working in your business
Working on your business
This will give you more focus and clarity. You will notice where you are wasting time and the first step to addressing it is to notice it. Be honest with yourself. Did you spend five minutes or thirty-five minutes scanning Facebook this morning?
Divide your work into specific areas:
Once you have a list of things you do every day in your work like, divide them into these four categories. This will help you to prioritise your workload – and maybe even realise which things you should stop doing.
What’s important and urgent
What’s important but not urgent
What’s not important and urgent
What’s not important and not urgent
Then start taking time management seriously.
Prepare your time management plan by prioritising your ‘to do’ tasks. Decide the best time of day for you to work on those tasks. You might be someone who prefers to start work early or you may prefer to work later in the day. Personally, if I can crack on first thing in the morning, that works best for me.
There may be certain tasks which you get through quickly when you are fresh in the morning but take you twice as long if you try to complete them in the afternoon. Or you may be more alert by the afternoon. Get to know and understand the way you work
By planning ahead, this will also mean you use your time in a more efficient way as you will be working at your optimum time.
Once you start, make sure you stick to your time management plan – it’s easy to lose control and focus if you are responding to emails and phone calls instead of sticking to your plan.
Be more time management savvy on your accounts
When you start listing what is taking your time in your working day, you will begin to recognise when you are wasting time. One common area which eats up time is managing accounts.
Maybe you’re wasting time because you’re not using your finance system as effectively as possible. Have a think about your system and decide it there are any changes you could make to save time. Also, are you using the best system for you? Don’t just go for the cheapest accounting software package. It may end up taking you longer as you can’t get to grips with it.
To better manage your time, you could:
Know your accounting and tax deadlines so you can prioritise. Accounts are due 9 months after your year end, corporation tax needs to be paid 9 months and 1 day after your year end
Outsource your bookkeeping
Reduce your paper-based systems
Have a separate business bank account
Use apps to help you with budgeting – there are plenty of them out there! Maybe use Xero or Quickbooks.
There are so many other ways you can find more time in your working day – how amazing would that be?
Once you have a couple of successes under your belt and you have identified and implemented ways of being more efficient and better at your time management in work, then you can build on your success, adding one more change each time. Just remember to give yourself a pat on the back and celebrate your achievements as you progress to becoming a time management master!
I love this Dr Seuss quote:
“How did it get so late so soon?”
It frequently feels like this, doesn’t it, as a small business owner. By identifying areas of your business that are eating up your time unnecessarily, you will soon find more hours in the day to concentrate on what is important. You will also be more efficient in those tasks that have to be completed.