For most business owners, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Time goes by quickly as the clock ticks away, leaving well-intentioned entrepreneurs pushing important tasks off to future dates. Add in the challenging economic conditions, and effective time management becomes even more important…and elusive.
But all is not lost, says Billie G. Blair, Ph.D., president and CEO of Los Angeles-based Change Strategists Inc. Having spent years helping organizations develop effective success strategies, Blair says there are some key strategies that companies can take to ensure that their owners, managers, and employees are using time wisely. Here are Blair’s seven top time management tips:
Figure out the hours and minutes in your workday. “Put a number on it, and know definitively how many hours and minutes you’re going to work,” says Blair. “That way, you can more effectively plan how you’ll use every minute.”
Prioritize tasks by figuring out what needs to be done right away. “Come up with daily goals for finishing the important tasks, always ensuring that those goals are tied to annual company goals,” says Blair. (For example, if you are reaching out to 10 new prospects per week, consider the annual sales increase that your efforts will yield.)
Perform an internal audit of your time. Look at what you have (and haven’t) been doing for the last few months, and use the information to audit your workday. “You may be shocked at the frivolous use of your time,” says Blair, “and how much time you’re wasting on mundane tasks that could be offloaded to someone else.”
Calculate the value of every minute. Use your annual salary figure to estimate what every minute is worth. “When you know this number, there’s a much better chance that you’ll say ‘no’ when asked to spend an hour doing a non-productive task,” says Blair.
Establish a daily schedule and stick with it. Use the information gleaned from the points above to come up with a daily agenda that makes good use of your time. If, for example, you have a staff meeting scheduled at the same time as an important conference call with a new client, let one of your managers or supervisors handle the former.
Stop wasting time. If you’re the type of person who agonizes for 40 hours over a task that you’re right-hand-man can do in 10, then let him do it. “Consider the precision with which someone approaches tasks, and his or her efficiency at accomplishing them,” says Blair. “Instead of wasting your own precious week on the project, delegate it to someone else.”
Practice saying “no.” You may want to be all things to all people, but that philosophy just doesn’t fly in today’s business world. “There are times when you just have to say no,” says Blair, who herself has declined membership in social/business groups because they simply weren’t the best use of her time. “Don’t let yourself get sucked into all kinds of activities that are nothing but a waste of time. Say no graciously and firmly, and you’ll be surprised at how much time you can free up for more important projects.”
With economic woes, customer demands and personal commitments all taking their toll on a business owner’s time, Blair says even the most well intentioned entrepreneurs can find themselves behind the 8-ball when it comes to time management. “There are a lot less hours in the day for fooling around in today’s economy,” she says. “Every minute counts.”
Quick time management tips:
–Delegate tasks to capable individuals
–Figure out how much every minute of your day is worth
–Use a daily schedule
–Learn how to say no