“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” – Michael Altshuler
Time is a luxury we often let slip away.
But, as a small business owner, you can’t afford to let time get away from you. To make the most of your day, you have to define a daily schedule, set goals, and invest in personal productivity tools.
It all starts with being disciplined with your daily operations and committing yourself to gain time management skills.
You’ll learn how to do both in this post. Let’s get started!
An objective mind views problems and opinions without emotion and is void of personal bias, resulting in a state of impassiveness with no place for time wasters like agitation or stress.
Sounds great, but having a stoic attitude (free from emotional stress) and maintaining it throughout the day isn’t easy. Fortunately, I’ve listed strategies that can help you keep calm, cool, and collected.
These strategies can maximize your performance so you stay on track and achieve your objectives. And, they can leave you satisfied at the end of every day and instill motivation for the next.
Motivation theory is the study of what drives people to work towards specific goals and outcomes. Results show that our drive comes from intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors.
Extrinsic include rewards for a job well done or sanctions if we can’t meet expectations.
Intrinsic motivation is a desire to please others, such as a customer or boss, to advance our professional goals.
When you create a healthy equilibrium of objectivity and motivation, you create a can-do attitude that gets results.
“Ability is what you can do. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” – Lou Holtz
Our first time management tip is a classic:
The more organized you are, the less time you waste.
Benjamin Franklin was an advocate of to-do lists, detailing a 13-week plan to practice crucial virtues and encourage self-improvement.
A to-do list categorizes what you want to accomplish during the day. It’s a simple habit that increases your daily productivity according to priority.
Start with the most important things and it’s a sliding scale from there. Keep it short and simple as long to-do lists cause unnecessary stress.
And write your to-dos as if completed. Instead of, “Finish and submit time management tips for small businesses,” write “Time management tips for small businesses finished and submitted.”
The words you use and the intention behind them are a great way to boost motivation.
When you play it smart, you’ll have a strategy that gets results and moves your business in the right direction.
“Walk slowly, but never backward.” – James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.
Time wasters come in 2 forms: Human and digital (we’ll look at the latter in just a minute).
Some people waste their own time and that of others. Try to recognize if anyone
robs you of your time because it’s the one thing you can’t buy back.
Preparation is another key to efficient time management.
Industry giants like Bezos, Gates, and Musk live according to tight schedules. You can do the same and prepare in advance how you’ll devote your time by creating a schedule that prioritizes essential tasks.
Knowing what the future holds helps you focus on the present, reduces stress, and improves performance.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” – Abraham Lincoln
When we fail at a task, we often become despondent, sometimes never trying again out of fear of failure.
Setting realistic expectations can help you avoid failure and the emotions that come with it. Doing so also helps you focus on what you can achieve, which builds momentum.
Positivity and self-belief play essential roles in how much we achieve each day. Ensure your tasks and expectations are realistic to maintain yours.
Inspiration is the most powerful tool for getting things done. It awakens our imagination to new possibilities and enables us to transcend our ordinary limitations and experiences.
Inspiration propels you from apathy to action and transforms how you perceive your capabilities.
“A highly motivated person takes an idea, goes out there, and won’t let anybody interfere with them. Inspiration is exactly the opposite. An idea gets hold of you and carries you where you are intended to go.” – Wayne Dyer
You don’t save time by working harder; you do it by working smarter.
Working smarter, not harder, means finding efficient solutions, so you use your time wisely and get the most out of every moment.
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” – Bill Gates
Don’t underestimate the time-saving potential of task prioritization.
Prioritization creates organization as it takes control of small segments of time and allows you to devote your energy to where it’s needed most.
Labeling helps with organization, so let’s look at that next.
Labeling is another simple and effective way to organize your workflow. Begin by listing your tasks, then label them in order of importance.
For example, a list of 6 tasks would start with 1 being urgent to 6 for least urgent.
Asian Efficiency is an excellent podcast for learning about labeling techniques.
We all have a limited supply of physical and psychological energy, and once they’re gone, our performance levels drop.
The solution is to do your most important tasks first and leave trivial stuff until later.
For me, that’s writing in the morning, editing in the afternoon, and sending emails in the evening.
“The most successful people are those that are best at identifying their deepest, most important goals.” – Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.
All interruptions lead to the same result: They break your concentration, make you lose focus, and before you know it, you’ve lost an hour of your day.
The following strategies can help reduce interruptions:
Time blocking is a time management strategy that breaks your day down into separate segments you’ll use to complete specific tasks.
It works best by making a graph of your day and giving different activities specific colors.
The benefits of time blocking are immediate because you know what you must do and when.
Most distractions are within our control, such as social media, browsing the net, reading and answering emails, and watching Netflix.
The problem is these time wasters become habitual.
Start by noting your daily distractions, their frequency, and how much time they devour.
Then place obstacles between yourself and your temptations like URL blockers, closing social media apps, and silencing notifications.
For years, we saw multitasking as a positive attribute; the more you can do, the more you get done, right?
We now know that multitasking is bad for business.
Every time you switch between tasks you must retrace your steps; this breaks concentration, uses mental energy, and wastes time.
Use your time effectively by focusing on one thing until completion and then moving to the next.
That’s what your time block chart is for!
Imagine having the ability to focus on one thing for hours on end. Think of the work you’d achieve! Focus strategies (also known as attention training) can help you do it.
It’s like learning an instrument and building up muscle memory in your fingers, except you’re training your mind instead. Meditation is an excellent way of learning and implementing this skill.
There are 2 meditation techniques: Shamatha meditation and walking meditation. Shamatha meditation is great for developing sustainable focus and attention. Walking and running meditation works by focusing on your feet and your connection with the earth as you move.
Delegating is essential for small business owners because you can’t do everything yourself.
Determine which tasks you can or should outsource and then identify the person capable of completing them.
Use the following tips when delegating:
Remember the run one mile a day example? The same applies to what you do each day; where your focus goes, your energy flows.
Choose what you’re consistent in and approach it like a workout; small regular efforts get results.
“Motivation gets you started. Habit keeps you going.” – Jim Ryun
When you hold yourself accountable for your actions, you learn from your mistakes and improve your performance.
Each day, review your actions, write where you were accountable or not, check your results at the end of each week, and grade your performance.
Your business and time are your responsibility, so hold yourself accountable.
When misapplied, micromanaging can cause anxiety, stress, and burnout. Still, it can be helpful when you approach it correctly.
3 ways to use micromanaging to your advantage:
Time tracking tools/apps help you prioritize your time using time trackers, to-do lists, calendars, and memos.
Some have additional features, including project tracking, task sharing, and analytics that show where you spend your time, enabling you to prioritize.
3 helpful tracking tools:
Visualization is imagining what you want to achieve by going over every step and preparing yourself to perform and receive it.
“You don’t become what you want; you become what you believe.” – Oprah Winfrey
When you convince yourself, you become capable of anything. “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”
Charting your progress can be a good indicator of your work ethic because it records your daily goals and achievements. You can log what you did and the time you spent doing it.
Give your goals a score from 1 to 10 then add them up at the end of each day. Before long you’ll have weekly performance scores that enable you to review your progress.
It might sound extreme, but it’s an effective way to reach targets and see where you’re letting things slide.
Many people are plagued by procrastination (I know I am!).
Procrastination isn’t caused by poor time management or your inability to focus, but by how you cope with negative moods and emotions induced by specific tasks. These emotions include anxiety, frustration, insecurity, self-doubt, low self-esteem, or boredom.
We often procrastinate because we’re afraid of failing at what we need to complete. This fear can cause you to avoid finishing a task or not starting it in the first place. The solution is to manage your emotions.
Here are 2 ways to relieve those negative feelings:
In a 2010 study, researchers found that students who forgive themselves in moments of procrastination increased productivity and did better in exams.
Another study in 2012 showed that the practice of self-compassion boosts your motivation and enhances feelings of self-worth, which promotes positive emotions like optimism, curiosity, wisdom, and personal initiative.
Meet your challenges with kindness and acceptance rather than regret and rumination.
But it’s often easier said than done. So, let’s dig a little deeper.
The root is an underlying cause of some issue or problem you’re having and, if left untreated, can grow and devour your time.
The 5 whys technique is a simple but powerful tool for digging out roots.
Begin by identifying the problem you’re having. Now ask “why” you have it. Ensure your answer is factual and you have the proof to back it up. Problem found, ask “why” again. Continue asking why until you uncover the actual root cause of your problem. Generally, it takes 5 rounds of asking why to expose the root.
Now implement a counter-measure that stops it from recurring.
Business owners need a strong sense of control to deal with their hectic daily routines.
Having one brings balance, and enables you to get the most out of your day.
Some ways to gain control:
I know you’re busy, so I’ll finish up with some proven and popular time management techniques.
The Pomodoro Technique is a timer used for time management that’s ideal for procrastinators, perfectionists, and anyone who needs a little structure in their life.
It works in 6 parts:
Regular breaks are proven to help increase creativity and productivity, so relax.
If you must complete over 6 goals a day the 1-3-5 rule is a strategy used to achieve 9; it works by choosing one big thing, 3 medium, and 5 small.
Consistency makes the 1-3-5 rule a powerful technique for achieving a high number of goals over a sustained period.
Kanban is a workflow management tool that operates in real-time and enables communication and transparency between team members via visual representations on the Kanban board.
The rule of 3 is a theory that we recognize and remember information better when presented in 3’s.
You can use the rule of 3 in your daily operations to organize information, implement tasks, and explain ideas to team members.
We’ve Run Out of Time
No matter what method you choose to manage your time, one thing remains clear: The key to success is self-discipline.
What works for you may not work for me, and we should never be afraid to experiment.
But when it comes down to it, the best practices are to commit and stick to a method and believe in yourself and your abilities.
“The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change their future by merely changing their attitude.” – Oprah Winfrey
This portion of our website is for informational purposes only. Tailor Brands is not a law firm, and none of the information on this website constitutes or is intended to convey legal advice. All statements, opinions, recommendations, and conclusions are solely the expression of the author and provided on an as-is basis. Accordingly, Tailor Brands is not responsible for the information and/or its accuracy or completeness.
Terry is a serial entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience building businesses across multiple industries – construction, real estate, e-commerce, hotelier, and now digital media. When not working, Terry likes to kick back and relax with family, explore Taoism’s mysteries, or savor the taste of fine Italian red wine.