Five Time Management Tips for Business Owners
In continuing our focus our Leadership Series, we wanted to address Time Management. We found an article from American Express Open Forum and thought it was a “must read” for everyone. We have summarized it here.
By Geoff Williams
You probably don’t have time to read this. And yet, if you’re like many business owners, you probably have to read this because you’re in need of some work efficiency tips.
After all, who isn’t? According to a 2018 report by the U.S. Travel Association, 705 million vacation days go unused. You could argue that’s because everybody’s so busy and not managing their time well.
1. Ditch time management.
Wait, what? I’m reading an article about time management in business, and now I’m being told not worry about ways to manage time?
So, if you really want better ways to manage time, you may need to come up with rules or policies to make it harder for people to interrupt you, says Dave McKeown, CEO of Outfield Leadership, a Laguna Beach, California-based business leadership consultancy. He suggests doing that in three ways:
- Narrow the number of communication channels. “Rather than allowing email, text, calls, Slack messages and water cooler conversations all to be valid routes of communication to you, it’s important to narrow them down to two or three that you can have the most control over,” he says.
- Assess ruthless prioritization. “When you get an interruption, rather than immediately responding to the ask, practice ruthless prioritization on the urgency and importance of it,” he advises. “If it can wait, let it wait.”
- Operate with a “delegate or do” mindset. “Once you’ve assessed the priority,” McKeown says, “you should quickly decide if this is something you can delegate or something only you can do. Most leaders tend to be bad at this one and hold on to too many items rather than delegating them out.”
2. Block time for certain tasks for better work efficiency.
Nick Gonzalez is one of the owners of Linville Team Partners, a mid-sized commercial real estate brokerage in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
On Sunday nights, to ensure better work efficiency in the days ahead, he tries to plan his week ahead “into blocks of similar activities.” On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, Gonzalez shows properties and runs any out-of-office errands. Tuesday and Thursday mornings are strictly for prospecting and cold calling.
“By creating these blocks or chunks of schedule you can maintain control of your calendar while still meeting the needs of your clients and employees and co-workers,” Gonzalez says.
But whatever schedule you come up with, you need to stick to it, he stresses.
3. Budget your time and money.
We hear all the time how you should be relentless about budgeting and manage your cash flow. Well… you could argue that you should be using the same types of strategies with your time to achieve more work efficiency. So, just like you watch every penny, ask yourself where every second of the day is going. That said, people do need breaks. Wasting some time is inevitable and perfectly reasonable. But, yes, most of us probably could benefit from a time budget.
4. Find time management tools that help you.
How would you grade yourself on work efficiency? If it’s a B, C or worse, maybe you need to use more tools to help you manage your time.
Use software such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and Basecamp to share documents and manage tasks with a support team or clients. You can use Doodle to schedule meeting dates and times with large groups of people. It will eliminate back and forth via email. You can use Outlook Calendar, so you can color code, well, everything, such as times you have meetings, what days to pay invoices and when you’re traveling. If you like visuals, you can also use a large dry-erase, at-a-glance calendar.
5. Remember that time management is your process.
What one person does to be productive may not work for you, and what you’re doing may be heresy to others. That doesn’t matter. What does matter is looking at how you spend your time every once in a while and asking yourself, Could I be doing this better?
Don’t worry so much about whether your habits for work efficiency are off the mark. If you want to ditch meetings, ditch them. If you think meetings make your company more efficient, keep them.
When it comes to time management in business, what matters is that whatever you’re doing works for you and your company. And on that note, I’ll let you go. After all, you have other things to do.
To read the entire American Express article, click here.
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