One of the biggest challenges of the small business operator is managing one’s time. With multiple responsibilities to juggle, the operator understands that time comes at a premium and simply cannot be squandered. However, try as hard as he might, the average business owner may find that time continues to slip away. The following time management tips can help you manage your schedule better.
1. Set a schedule. Self employment means freedom, but with it comes a tremendous amount of responsibility. You cannot afford to operate haphazardly — you need to work within a clearly defined schedule. That schedule is owned and managed by you. The moment that you allow others to dictate your activity, the less efficient you will be.
2. Make and keep your appointments. Truly, we need to make appointments with customers, suppliers, internal managers and other interested parties. Those appointments can, however, turn into time wasters if they are not productively approached. Endeavor to set appointments and limit the amount of time you spend at each one. Appointments can range from the 5-minute call you make to a subordinate to the half-hour rally of the troops at a distant plant or office. Let people know ahead time that the length of your appointments and stick to that timeframe.
3. Set aside time for email and social media. You cannot escape it: people get in contact with you via email and they love to interact via social media. Instead of looking at either one as an intrusion, turn these potential time wasters around to show how much they can benefit your business. Email should be checked when you begin your day and before you end it. Do this more often and your time will be owned by others. Social media might be approached in the middle of the day or just before you go to lunch. You can engage with people through both platforms, but you must limit your time or time will control you.
4. Plan your downtime wisely. Busy managers often get so involved with what they do that their families have little to show for it. If you want a strong marriage and a healthy family life, then you must take the time to be with those you care about most. Spontaneity may be more difficult for the busy executive, therefore it is important to schedule events with your family. This may include: a Tuesday evening dinner on the town with your wife, attending your daughter’s soccer practice, or taking in your son’s recital. You’re a busy executive and there is nothing wrong with scheduling family events and ensuring that you keep them.
5. Weave in personal exercise. When people have full, but well-managed schedules, they can set aside time for other things that they would like to do, but might neglect. Such as exercise. You will find yourself less stressed, more efficient, healthier and will have a more positive outlook on life if you incorporate exercise into your routine. Whether you do it in the morning, during the middle of the day or in the evening after you leave work really does not matter. It should be an important part of your routine and something that you look forward to doing each day.
Some people hate to be tethered by a schedule, but those who are find that they have more freedom than those that are not. A schedule is not meant to chain you, rather it is something that should help you better manage your time, accomplish more and do so with less stress.