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Is your business running you or are you running your business?  Good time management is essential in the effective operation of your small business, not to mention the health of both you and your business.

Common feelings of a business owner who does not practice good time management include: exhaustion from working 12 hour days, feeling overwhelmed, not enjoying life or their business, stress, not taking time for self care including healthy eating, exercise and social time with friends or family.

Effective time management will result in you getting more done in your work day, having renewed energy and enthusiasm for your business and an appreciation for the simpler things in life. All of which result in less stress and an increase in your bottom line.

Tip #1 – Busyness is not Business

Always tackle the most difficult task first thing in the morning when your energy and concentration level is at its highest.  Avoid email first thing in the morning. Your inbox is nothing more than someone else’s agenda.

Get to the hard task as early as you can. The longer you put it off in favor of easier, lower priority matters, the harder that task gets.

Tip #2 – Think Sprint not Marathon

Our bodies are not designed to sit at a desk for eight hours and plough through our work to get it done.

Short, uninterrupted bursts of concentration are the key to knocking out good work. Use a kitchen timer, the timer function on your mobile device or desktop, and set it for a designated time period. Don’t stop until you hear the buzzer.  Or try an app that runs on your desktop to help you manage time, like RescueTime. Running in the background on your computer or mobile device, the free version of RescueTime tracks minutes spent on various sites or applications. This is most useful if you think you have a bad email or Facebook habit, and would like to get it under control.

You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in a good uninterrupted time frame.

Tip #3 – Schedule Daily Time Blocks

Schedule your work in blocks of time. You have, let’s say, six hours of productive time each day, so schedule your work to get the maximum use of these hours.

Your time blocks might look like this:

  • two 1 hour segments,
  • six 30 minute segments,
  • four 15 minute segments.

You might schedule one hour for lunch or other breaks during the day.  And take into account your unique situation if you are home-based, or work in an office, your family commitments, etc.

Tip #4 – Group Similar Tasks

Organize your week into specific days for similar tasks, with allotted timeframes.

For example, on Mondays and Wednesdays focus on face time – seeing clients, making sales, etc. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, reserve the time for writing or working on strategy. Friday morning is for overflow and Friday afternoon is free time. Knowing what your work looks like in advance makes it easier to be in the right mindset when the time comes and to schedule tasks accordingly.

Tip #5 – Track It – A Week of the Past is your Key to the Future

If you can’t figure out where the week went, it’s time to take a closer look at it.  Track your time for one week.  This is sobering!  If you want to do this digitally, a great app is ATracker.  This free app lets you track your whole life by tapping on your phone to start or stop each activity. It then produces reports on your day. The clean and uncluttered design is a nice plus, too. Apple only.

You’ll likely see the holes in your calendar.  You may find that you need to rearrange priorities accordingly.

Tip #6 – Learn to Manage Time with Time Management Categories

Look at your tracking list and categorize it.  How much time during your working day did you spend.

  1. Putting out fires
  2. Dealing with interruptions
  3. Doing planned tasks

Now, use this information to analyze your typical work week and make the changes to the way you spend your time.

Tip #7 – Learn to say “Yes” and “No”

Learn to make quick decisions and say “yes” or “no”. You don’t have to make reasons for your decision. A simple “no I can’t do that” is enough.

The person you are dealing with will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are not wasting their time. You will not feel pressure to fit in yet another task.

Tip #8 – Priorities

Don’t rush from task to task.  Focus.  Review the list of what you have to do at the start of the day and then focus on getting these tasks completed.

Tip #9 – Unplug

While we live in a digitally connected world, we don’t have to be reachable 24/7. In fact, effective time management dictates that we are not. Focusing on the task at hand, and not multitasking with mobile devices, produces a more concentrated effort.

Let yourself be the manager of your technology rather than being managed by it.  Set aside certain times to respond to emails and phone calls.

Tip #10 – Pick One – Get It Done

My favorite tip and my client’s favorite tip is really quite simple, straight forward and easy. Get one thing done, no matter what it is. It’s better than 10 things left undone.

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Deb AlcadinhoAt Your Brand Power, we work with business owners who want to move their business forward. One of our programs is the PEAK Business Success Program that transforms business by educating business owners, empowering them to take action and holding them accountable.

Deb Alcadinho is a business advisor and educator for small business owners and entrepreneurs. She’s a serial entrepreneur and a champion for female business owners.

To learn more, please visit: www.yourbrandpower.com/peak