I have been working in an employed environment recently. It’s made me realise how much easier it is to manage your time in this kind of situation. There is more of a system and set hours are laid down, making time management something that is in-built into your day. Of course, it doesn’t always work out like this. I know from when I worked in London that there were frequent early starts and late finishes.
But 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.
Hi. I’m Anna Goodwin, your friendly finance mentor. With over 30 years of experience, I know how important time management is for business success.
Someone who works in an SME can veer easily towards working too many hours yet seemingly not achieving much. In particular, core parts of the business seem to suffer, such as not concentrating on bringing work in, or working on the business rather than in the business.
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?
It’s essential to get a system in place in order to have a successful business (and a positive impact on your home life!).
The first step is to record 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 on how to achieve business success. You will notice where you are wasting time and the first step to addressing it is to notice it.
Divide your work into specific areas:
- 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 plan by prioritising your ‘to do’ tasks and decide the best time of day for you to work on your 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.
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.
To better manage your time, could you?
- Outsource your bookkeeping
- Reduce your paper-based systems
- Have a separate business bank account
There are so many other ways you can find more time in your working day – how amazing would that be?
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.
Take a deep breath and think about how you can manage your time better. Your business will soon see the benefits.
Next time will be about accountants taking time out to decide on what they want next with their career.
Anna Goodwin @2021 All Rights Reserved.