Does this sound anything like you? Perhaps you run a small bricks & mortar business, or maybe you are an independent business professional. Possibly you have an office you go to every day, or maybe it is a business you run out of your home. But, you are also a parent, partner, and friend with full life.
When you started this business you likely had visions of some kind of work-life balance. Being your own boss would give you the freedom to make your own choices, to control your own destiny. And you wanted a business that allows you to spend time with your children and live the life of your own design.
This all sounds like a win-win situation and it can be as long as you learn to handle one thing – your time.
Who’s managing your time?
On some of your busiest days it is easy for work to take a backseat to the needs of your family or emergencies at home. The same thing can happen on the flip side. Family responsibilities can be encroached on by work commitments.
Every small business owner has dealt with this rollercoaster at some time or another… maybe you are dealing with this right now. It can be a daunting experience at best. At worse, both your business and your family can suffer, leaving you uncertain of how to fix things. This, my friends, is where the rubber hits the road, and something has to change.
While time management is very important in any business, it becomes especially important when you are responsible for so many different tasks and accountabilities. You can’t afford to let this most valuable of your resources go to waste. Here are a few strategies for you to consider:
Create a Schedule
Calendars may seem a little bit “old school” in this age of online calendars and smart phones, but they are still one of the best ways to keep up with upcoming events.
- Yearly – At the start of each year, post up a full year calendar in a highly visibly spot so that you can record important events, be they family or work-related, so that nothing gets forgotten and any conflicts can be addressed before the day of the event. Consider colour-coding your commitments to make it even easier to determine where your priorities are.
- Monthly – Specifically for your business, consider posting up a monthly calendar (the wipe-off kind are a great option), and commit to documenting all of your commitments. Don’t forget to include networking or industry events, important client meetings, even include reminders to send thank-you or greeting cards to key accounts. By documenting everything you will get to see where your focus is, and where it maybe needs to shift.
- Weekly/Daily – On a weekly/daily basis, be sure to block off regular time each day or week to take care of ALL of the facets of your business. As business owners we have to make sure that we juggle the responsibilities of the CEO, the marketer, the technician and the administrative assistant. But we can’t forget to take care of ourselves either. Be flexible but still commit to a certain amount of time each day to run your business and also to spend time with family commitments.
Create Daily Milestones
Having a prioritized to-do list can be a great way to keep you on track each day, and allows you to track progress. First thing in the morning, determine what you will focus on for that day. By setting a list of priorities and then take steps to finish the most important jobs first, you can ensure that you are using your time wisely.
You don’t have to schedule every minute of your day, but a level of time management will keep your daily life organized. And you don’t have to finish every task each day. If, however, you start to see a pattern of the same task or types of tasks slipping day after day, this is a good ‘early warning’ sign that you may need some help.
Ask for Help
No man or woman is an island, and absolutely no business is successful because of the efforts of a single individual. But when we work in our own business, responsible for all of the decisions, and the delivery, it can seem like we are truly taking on the world by ourselves.
When you identify particular challenges in your business, things that either don’t enjoy or lack the skill set to do, seek help! The longer you avoid addressing the issue the more time you will lose, and in business if you aren’t moving forward you are sliding backwards.
We can’t be masters of every aspect of our business, but we can be masters of our time. And in the end, this is the one resource we can never buy or create more of!