Time Management Skills For Business Owners

Effective time management skills are essential for everyone whether they are in business or not and the tips below will help you improve and better manage your time and reduce stress.

There are so many activities that you need to achieve each day that one can get overwhelmed. There are techniques, exercises, software, coaching and courses available to help aid decision making.

Effective Time Management - Introduction

In today's stressful world with so much going on, it can sometimes be difficult to understand precisely what you need to do next. At your home, there are the pressures of having enough cash to pay the bills and entertain the children. At work increasing pressures of merely staying in business can often send your mind into overdrive and then working on activities that don't bring your overall goals and objectives any closer to being realised.

Companies prepare business plans to map out their journey and in those are tactical and operational plans. The same will occur in your personal life if you know what your short, medium and long-term goals are.

There are a couple of rules and ideas in life that could help you concentrate on only those things that are going to make a difference:

Perfection is Not Required

The adage of the 80:20 rule still applies today in that 20% of effort provides 80% of results.

For example, if you're developing a new website that takes 100 days to complete, usually the first 20 days would make the site 80% ready. The following 80 days would probably be spent tweaking the design, adding in product pages, checking and re-checking spellings etc. While you use the final 80 days to make your site perfect, it's not active you would be missing any sales a part-ready product would bring.

With most activities, it's best to leave them be once the bulk of the work is complete. People say that 80% is good enough and this is true. The amount of effort to bring something that's 80% ready to be 90% or 95% suitable is immense and not worth it (when you could be doing something else).

Efficiency Rather Than Effort

You see in many offices around the world people working hard and always too busy to even have a lunch break, but often the work they are undertaking is pointless.

If you can put an hourly price on your time why would you be doing filing work or other mundane tasks when you could be outsourcing activities to a virtual office so you can spend your time with your skills on something else?

Time Management Skills & Techniques

People who are successful in life have mastered the various business skills and techniques to undertake tasks that take them towards their goals. Here are the best tips you can use to step back from your life and manage your time more effectively.

1: Set Timed Goals

Everything you do should be taking you towards something you want to achieve - whatever it may be. Certainly at work employees are motivated by leaders and managers that set clear goals. Research by Dr Edwin Locke showed that by setting clear rather than vague goals improved results and employee morale.

His theory suggested that goals should have:

  • Clarity (so that is it measurable, and you know if you have achieved the goal).
  • Challenge (so that you have stretched targets, you're not just plodding along, and when you reach the goal there is some form of a sense of achievement).
  • Commitment (when creating the goal the people who are undertaking the task are involved in setting it to create buy-in).
  • Feedback loop (so you know how things are progressing and if it's not on track you can take the necessary actions).
  • Task complexity (if the goal is complex then the time and resources allocated should be realistic).

2: Set SMART Objectives

Rather like the research above another way of creating goals is to follow the SMART acronym so objectives are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound (i.e., Achieve a 10% sales increase in product Y in the next three months).

3: Focus on The Time You Have

Of course, we want to achieve everything by tomorrow, but it can't be done either because we don't have the time, skills or resources available. Most people can't concentrate on more than 6-8 activities at the same time, and it's the same in business. If businesses have 20 objectives, then staff lose focus and become demotivated because nothing gets done.

4: Prioritise Your Objectives Effectively

Like with the focus in the paragraph above not every objective will have equal ranking nor contribute the same to either the profits of a company or to your personal life. Once you have 6-8 goals, work out which is the main one that needs achieving, the second and so on.

It's a bit like responding to emails. We have a habit to look at the easy ones first that can be deleted or have a one-line reply; those that are quick and easy to get rid of out of your inbox. But are those the ones you should have just spent an hour of your time responding to that add value to your business?

Improving Your Time Management

Procrastination regarding putting things off for another day is something everyone is guilty of as we are all flawed humans.

We tend to do things that are easy and enjoyable rather than dealing with activities that actually need completing.

Delaying tactics is the one area where we all suffer from and before we know it another day has passed by, and we are nowhere near achieving our goals. We all waste time so here are some tips to avoid procrastinating.

1: Recognise You're Wasting time!

If you are honest with yourself, then you can go to your "to-do" lists and either add to them or start to work on some of those actions. To do lists are great as you can see progress as you tick off what you have done. Don't leave those tasks you hate doing. Once you have complete them, you'll feel a great sense of achievement and a weight lifting off your shoulders.

2: Ask Yourself Why Things Aren't Getting Done

Are you bored, do you hate the task or do you not have the skills? If you know why you are not getting anything done you can start to work on goal setting otherwise you will achieve nothing as it's you and only you that can make a difference.

3: Motivate Yourself, or Get Others to Help You

If you're working alone or are at home all day, you can set time limits or get someone to check up on you as pressure and time deadlines work to motivate. You can set your own rewards - if you do task A by lunchtime reward yourself with something you like. And if you are putting something off because it's too complex or you don't have the skills see if you can find someone else to help you or attempt to get the knowledge.

Courses, Exercises and Training

There are plenty of courses to help you attain time management techniques and they will teach you all about the skills we have explored above. Primarily goal setting, priority setting and putting effort into those tasks that reap the most rewards.

Good luck developing your time management skills to run your business more efficiently.