As a small business owner, managing your time and expectations are extremely important if you want to maintain the proper focus. Time management is one of those skills that no one teaches you in school but that you have to learn.
I struggle with this issue and can be easily distracted by a phone call or a tendency to check my emails more often than is probably needed.It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t organize information well enough to take it in. And it doesn’t matter how skilled you are if procrastination keeps you from getting your work done.
I’m going to share some of my favorite time management skills with you in this post. I hope that you find them helpful.
- My personal favorite – cut the clutter. Keep a clean desk and desktop; clutter can be very distracting.
- Use your peak productivity time well and make sure you get sufficient rest. Coffee will not assist you forever. It’s okay to take breaks throughout the day. Some of us are “morning people” and others are “night owls.” You know what your strengths and weaknesses are better than anyone else does.
- It’s most important to know how you structure your day and manage your time that makes the difference. Know the best days and times to target your prospective clients or targeted companies, which may be different than you think at first .
- Set daily goals for yourself and make sure you don’t work past your burn out time. This might include networking in person, making follow-up calls, writing a business proposal or putting a budget together – each day complete one specific goal – you’ll feel much better being able to check something off your “to do” list.
- It’s absolutely okay to block out some non-planned activities. Life happens and there will also be some unexpected events or emergencies to deal with. Or maybe you’re under the weather.
- Plan for some specific time away from the computer and phone, 30 minutes a day. By that, I don’t mean a coffee break or to eat a meal. Take a walk, run some errands, do other things to take your mind off your business. Meet a friend for a cup of coffee.
- Start your day by prioritizing what you need to get done (your to-do list!). Block time out on your calendar each day to ensure that you get work done.
- When you are on a deadline and you need to finish something – Close your door (if you have one): Put your phone on “send to voicemail,” close your email and turn off the instant messenger. It is liberating! Not everything is urgent; yes, some things can wait until the next day
- Minimizing distractions – distractions are a big time waster. A lot of us have this constant urge to check our email every 15 minutes. There are many other common distractions and it is important to limit them.
- Make sure social networks serve your purpose. Do you really need to be on all of them? Pick one or two that are really important and discard the rest. Be careful not to check your social sites while at work. It is a big time waster even if “Big Brother” is not watching.
- Prioritize your social media activities. As you are arranging your schedule for the day, you should think about the most effective time to work with your social media channels so that they yield the most positive results for your business. A “to do” list is an excellent organization tool and until you really get into the swing of managing your social media interactions, you may want to rely on that. At the end of the day, you want to be left with the feeling that you have been successful with your social media activities. It is important to set realistic goals for your business when it comes to social media. If your goals are too ambitious, you may not be able to accomplish them and you will then be in a position of potentially not accomplishing what you set out to do.
- Decide on the time or times when you will check Email and stick to those times. There will always be some distracting message in your in inbox. Keep your emails short. That is how they are meant to be. Use the phone instead of email whenever possible.
- Know your target company or companies whether you are searching for job search or seeking business partners. Starting out, that’s one of the most important things to consider. If you’re not sure what you want to do, it will be difficult for you to communicate that to a client or another company.
- Weekends are a time to take a break but not entirely. Use weekends to review the previous week’s successes (and failures), which will give you the opportunity to prepare your upcoming week. The goal is to hit the ground running on Monday morning.
When it comes to your business, time management is critical to your success. You need to be organized, disciplined and focused on what you need to accomplish every day. If you are having a difficult time staying on track, writing a weekly schedule (or calendar) will probably help you a great deal. The more organized you are and the more diligently you manage your time, the better your results will be.
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Kenneth Lang is a social media analyst who has worked with job seekers and small business owners on how to best maximize using LinkedIn for specific goals. He’s worked for large and small companies, most recently as Online Project Management Support for The New York Times in New York City on the International version of the newspaper – The International Herald Tribune. Kenneth is co-founder of Steps To Success which offers individual and group LinkedIn sessions for business owners.
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