Most days, life as a business owner feels freeing. When profits are up and your office is running like a well-oiled machine, it’s easy to feel grateful for everything you’ve built. In more stressful moments, however, to-do lists can stretch on forever and a life/work balance may seem impossible. With the right business time management tools and strategies, you can minimize stress while achieving your goals. Try these 10 life hacks on for size!
Tackle Tough Projects First
There’s a reason your parents served you broccoli before dessert: getting the tough stuff out of the way can make the reward extra sweet. Like vegetables, challenging projects can be particularly loathsome when they’re avoided. With more time dedicated to dreading a stressful task, you’re less likely to cross it off your to-do list with fidelity.
Owning your own business requires a great deal of self-discipline. If you’re feeling especially pressured by a project, free yourself from the stress by tackling it right away. After all, the sooner you get started, the sooner the chore will be complete.
Use the Two-Minute Rule
Speaking of annoying tasks, if you have an item on your to-do list that will take less than two minutes to complete, consider taking it on right away. Rather than adding it to a long list of tasks to take care of, simply do the thing in the moment. If you’re a business owner whose every minute is scheduled away, this approach may not work, but if you have a spare moment to schedule an appointment or return a call, the two-minute rule can be a life-saver.
Delegate Whenever Possible
There’s a lot at stake when you own your own business. Your livelihood, as well as the livelihoods of your employees, depend on your success. With so much at stake, it’s easy to buy into the idea that you can do it all by yourself. While it’s true that you probably can take care of certain tasks better than anyone else, buying into this idea can be toxic.
Business time management tools make the delegation process easier than ever. Consider assigning regular tasks to your employees to free up time in your day while challenging your team to achieve new goals. As a business owner, your time is valuable, and if you’re not delegating whenever you can, you’ll burn out fast.
Ever feel like you’re wasting your life away in conference rooms? It’s a common challenge for many entrepreneurs. While meetings can indeed provide much-needed communication and clarification for your team and clients, they can also drag on, wasting everyone’s valuable time. In many cases, meetings can be replaced with a well-written email or office-wide memo.
The next time you feel compelled to call a meeting, consider using business time management tools to make the appointments more efficient. Set an agenda, minimize meeting lengths to 15 minutes or less – whatever your strategy, be sure you’re making the most of your time. You’ll save time and keep employees happy!
Manage Your Time with the Pomodoro Method
Business owners have to be intentional about their time management. Without a plan in place, it’s easy to waste a day putting out fires instead of crossing items off your to-do list. The Pomodoro Method allows you to be mindful rather than reactive, and ultimately leads to more efficient use of your time in the office.
The strategy is an easy one to master: set a timer for 25 minutes and work steadily until the alarm sounds. When it does, take five minutes to go for a walk, refill your coffee cup, or respond to text messages. Once those five minutes are up, though, you’ll need to reset your 25-minute timer and plunge headfirst into the task at hand. It’s a simple technique every business owner should try when struggling to manage their time.
Make To-Do Lists the Night Before
Before you head home for the day, consider what’s on the agenda for tomorrow. By dedicating five minutes to creating your to-do list ahead of time, you set your future self up for success. While business time management tools can indeed help focus your day, this tip is effective because it is so simple. It’s the business equivalent of writing down your homework before catching the school bus home for the day.
Smartphones, tablets, and other devices have tricked most Americans into believing they’re excellent multi-taskers. In reality, humans are inherently bad at doing two things at once. While we’d like to believe we’re saving time by opening up multiple tabs in our browser, we’re actually dedicating smaller chunks of our attention to more and more ideas.
If you’re serious about using your time wisely, give single-tasking a try. For the busy business owner, it’s the smartest way to focus attention while remaining as productive as possible. Of course, it’s easier than it sounds – you may be semi-addicted to juggling multiple tasks at once! Start small and build up your single-tasking muscles before using this approach all day.
Set yourself up for success by blocking common distractions that shift focus away from the task at hand. There are countless business time management tools that allow you to block social media access, phone calls, and other forms of distraction. The easiest way to do this, however, may be the simplest: set your phone or tablet out of sight and out of mind. This isn’t possible for every business owner, of course, but the act of silencing your phone and putting it in a drawer can do wonders for your productivity.
Prioritize Mental Health
You wouldn’t run a marathon on a sprained ankle, so why manage a business with a tired, stressed out, or depressed mind? Thankfully, our society is moving away from the success-at-any-cost mentality that plagued so many in the 80s and 90s. If you’re not setting time aside to meditate, go for walks, or generally free yourself from stress, you’re bound to burn out eventually. By prioritizing your mental health, you prioritize the overall wellbeing of your body, mind and business.
Find Your Administrative MVPs
Delegation requires a lot of energy, but when you finally find someone who can anticipate your needs and take care of business without being asked, it’s like striking gold. Thankfully, there are more business time management tools and administrative superstars than ever before. By finding virtual receptionists, call centers, and other administrative support personnel, you can shift many of your daily tasks onto the plates of these professionals. It’s not always easy to entrust your business in the hands of others, but with the right team, you’ll delegate with ease.
These are just a handful of ways to streamline your business and maintain your sanity as an entrepreneur. Whatever strategies you employ, be sure to try them multiple times before giving up – half-hearted attempts will only net you half-hearted results! Should you want a shortcut to more free time, though, consider giving MAP a try. Our week-long free trial will give you a first-hand look at just how valuable our live answering services can be!