More small-business owners than ever are trying to improve their efficiency at work. In an effort to keep their payroll expenses from increasing, they have been trying to do more work “in-house.” I guess it is the classic case of do more with the same number of people or do the same amount of work with fewer people. Either way, it is an issue of productivity in the workplace.
Whether you are in business for yourself or working for someone else, good time management is a skill set that offers great rewards. I would like to share some time management tips I have discovered over the years that may help you.
Eat that frog
I learned this one when I read Brian Tracy’s book of the same title. The main point is to do the worst first and get it out of the way so the rest of your day is not spent dreading the task. This dread can be a real energy drainer for you.
I think for many small-business owners, their “frog” is paperwork associated with accounting. Depending on whether you do your recordkeeping daily, weekly or monthly, schedule the task as soon as you can and just get it done. I promise you will feel better. I think this rule especially applies to us procrastinators.
Make a to-do list
It is important for you to plan your activities before you make your to-do list or check list. You want to make sure you are spending your time on the right activities and not just busy but unimportant work. Keeping a to-do list on your desk or written in your daily calendar keeps you focused on the job at hand and gives you a sense of accomplishment as you check off the items on your list.
One task at a time
We have all heard about people who are amazing at multi-tasking. However, recent research has led some scientists to believe there is no such thing as multi-tasking; you are just task switching.
People who stay focused on the project at hand are able to finish the project and move on to other projects and seem to get more accomplished. I think multi-tasking just leads to frustration and a messy desk.
Just say no
This is hard for small-business owners, but you must plan your schedule, stay focused on priorities, and say no to tasks or projects that do not meet your goals. Staying focused on your priorities will increase your efficiency and in the long run give you more free time to spend on whatever you choose.
Handle it once
I read somewhere that you should only handle a piece of paper one time. In essence, you should either act on it, file it if you needed to save it, or throw it away. I personally dream of the day that I master this time-saving technique.
I guess this could be summed up by the Nike slogan, “Just Do It!” So many times we agonize or try to make everything “perfect” when perfection is not necessary and not profitable.
In closing, I hope you can incorporate one or two of these tips on a regular basis and figure out how to work smarter, not harder. As for me, I’m trying to “eat that frog” on a daily basis. When I master that one, I will move on down the list!
Lynn Vos is area director of the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 651-3200.
Vos, Lynn (2009, January 18). Big Ideas for Small Business: Time management tips. Savannah Morning News. Retrieved from http://savannahnow.com/lynn-vos/2009-01-18/big-ideas-small-business-time-management-tips