If you're running a small business on your own, you're probably giving it all you have. From an outside perspective, you might appear to be a workaholic with no time or energy for anything else, but that's because you are passionate about your business.
Being a workaholic will eventually lead to burnout. If you can’t get everything done in time, you need some effective time management strategies. These proven time management tips can help you stay in control of your business, so it doesn't control you.
When are you most productive?
Some people are night owls; some are early risers. When you hear top CEOs offer productivity tips for entrepreneurs, they will often say that the most successful people get up at the crack of dawn. That may work for some, but you need to listen to your body and find your peak energy levels.
Everyone is different. You can start your workday in the morning if that’s when you feel most energized, or you could start your office hours after lunch if you discover that your brain is most alert in the afternoon. You may also choose to work after dinner and into the night. Once you pinpoint your most productive hours, use that time to focus on your most complex and challenging tasks that require more brain power and concentration.
Seek out work-life balance
Many people leave full-time jobs to start a business because they crave a better work-life balance, but you may find that with no regular schedule, you’re working above and beyond the 40-hour work week. Weekends are no longer days that you can afford to take off, and for those who work from home, there is no transition of environment.
How can you become a successful solopreneur and achieve a healthy work-life balance? The key is to set limits on your work hours. That may seem impossible when you are just starting out and have a ton of things to do to get your business off the ground. But, when you take little breaks to do something enjoyable – go for a walk or run, see a movie with your kids, check out a music festival, hang out in the bookstore – you will undoubtedly come back rejuvenated and even inspired with new ideas and solutions to work challenges.
Set up your phone to answer from anywhere, so you can take important client calls even if you’re on vacation.
Limit your screen time
As a small business owner, your work involves marketing on social media, website design, and emailing clients and vendors, so you probably check your phone dozens of times a day.
Consider stepping away from your computer and phone at least once or twice during your work day to focus on offline tasks. Turn your phone to airplane mode and put your laptop away for a couple of hours. You can also turn notifications off on your phone and reserve a specific time of the day for replying to emails.
A quick digital detox can help you cut out distractions that don't need to be dealt with immediately. This way, you can dive straight into the more important tasks for the day and give them your full attention and concentration.
Break down your to-do list
As a business owner, you probably have too many lists – people to call back or email, product ideas to research, marketing plans to try out, and mundane administrative responsibilities. If it feels like you're drowning in never-ending lists and you don't know where to start, try changing the way you view your tasks.
Break down your intimidating list into small chunks, and choose a method that makes completing them more enjoyable, like colorful sticky notes or a to-do list app. Ask yourself — what needs to get done today? What is the easiest thing you can check off the list right now? Starting with the more achievable and pressing tasks will give you a feeling of accomplishment and confidence to move forward with more complex responsibilities.
Ask for help
Like most solopreneurs, you prefer to run your small business alone. If you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself, right? Not always.
What if you start to notice that after working on creation and production, you're running out of hours in the day to get any of your marketing done? Perhaps you find that you're spending a lot of time talking to clients and have less time to sit down and take care of routine paperwork. These are signs that you might need an assistant, even if it's just for a few hours a week. You can hire someone locally or find a virtual assistant online – whatever you feel comfortable with. Once you're freed up from the more menial tasks, you'll have more time and energy to tackle the bigger challenges and projects of your business.
Today’s cloud technologies make it easy to work from anywhere, but working remotely can present distractions that make it hard to concentrate. Stay on track by:
- Pinpointing your biggest distractions and taking care of them before you start working.
- Creating a dedicated office space.
- Turning your personal devices off or to vibrate.
- Posting your work schedule for others to see.
- Using visual tools, like a dry erase board, to see a project in a new light.
A reliable business Internet service can also help eliminate any technical issues, so you can stay focused on the task at hand.
Running a business on your own can be chaotic. These time management tips and strategies can help you free up some time in your day, so you can concentrate on tasks that are important to you and your small business.