How Time Management Skills Help Small Business Owners Thrive

Starting a small business is nothing short of complex, which can make it increasingly overwhelming to keep the ball rolling. The feeling of uncertainty in managing your time strategically can easily cause stress and burnout.

As a small business owner, you have what seems like a never-ending to-do list between meetings, deadlines, finances, and managing employees. This not only impacts your mental stamina, but your productivity and performance as well.

While there are only so many hours in a day, there are several effective time management skills you can use to make the most of the time you do have and reduce those feelings of stress and burnout as a small business owner.

Easing the burnout of starting a small business

As a small business owner, you know the many challenges you face every day. Whether it’s understanding how to best manage your cash flow, hiring the right people, dealing with economic uncertainty like inflation or supply chain disruptions, or finding and selling to customers, there is never a dull moment.

The importance of time management skills in overcoming these challenges cannot be overstated. Having too many things on your plate at once without a time management structure is a recipe for burnout and ultimately defeat. 

Burnout is not uncommon. In fact, 31% of business owners report experiencing high levels of stress and one in three entrepreneurs struggle with depression and burnout. If you are experiencing burnout, you may be feeling exhausted, have trouble sleeping, experience anxiety or depression, or feel overly irritable. These are the warning signs, and this is when you’ll know you need to take back your time and use time management skills to reset your workflow.

Goal setting, prioritization, leveraging technology, stress management, and utilizing your team are all strategies that can help ease the impacts of burnout. 

Prioritize tasks and set boundaries

With the amount of tasks and projects you have to complete in a day, prioritization is paramount. Instead of facing the day with 100 critical things to do, narrow down your responsibilities from highest priority to lowest. Creating an itemized to-do list can help with this, whether it’s on pen and paper or you use an online tool or mobile app to organize your tasks.

First, identify and focus on your high-impact tasks. These have the biggest positive impact on moving your business forward. Think about your goals both in the short and long term and consider whether the tasks you’ve prioritized first will make significant progress toward achieving those goals.

Once you’ve identified your most important tasks, it’s essential to set realistic deadlines and boundaries. If it will take you three days instead of one to complete a task, be honest with yourself and schedule out that time properly. Of course, meeting client deadlines is crucial, so perhaps that needs to go at or near the top of your list.

To lighten some of the load of your task list, be confident in saying no to non-essential tasks.

Leverage technology and automation

There are a wide variety of tools and apps for task and time management that can help increase your productivity significantly. There are apps that help you track your time for tasks as well as project management tools that help you organize your to-do lists and create a schedule. Some require subscriptions, but many are free, so do some digging to explore your options.

The recurring and mundane tasks that all business owners must deal with can be a major hindrance to productivity as well. The use of modern technology and automated software tools helps you run recurring tasks in the background while you focus on more pressing matters.

There are programs to take advantage of that allow you to automate repetitive and ongoing tasks like email marketing, timesheets and payroll, and financial transactions. For example, Homebase automates employee scheduling, time tracking, and payroll to eliminate manual processes for hourly teams, giving business owners more time back to address high-impact tasks and projects.

Embrace delegation and outsourcing

As one person, you can only take on so much. This is where delegation and outsourcing comes in. To streamline your workflow, identify tasks that you can pass to either your team members or a network of contractors that you can rely on.

Delegation within a team not only helps you manage your time more efficiently and reduce stress, but it also creates a sense of importance and belonging amongst your team, which can help boost productivity and engagement. Your team members can also develop new skills, helping to increase innovation and competitive advantage in your business.

To delegate and outsource effectively, it’s important to build a strong foundation of trust, communication, and feedback. Real-time messaging, roundtable discussions, and surveys can help with this. Carefully decide which tasks to delegate and to whom, and be sure to be clear about the responsibilities involved so communication comes more easily on both sides.

Practice self-care and mindfulness

Entrepreneurs can quickly fall into the trap of forgetting to take time for themselves. Running a small business has many responsibilities that can cause personal priorities to fall to the wayside, so it’s important to take a step back and reflect on your work-life balance. Overworking yourself as a business owner is another way to quickly experience burnout.

One way to prioritize your own self-care is to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your routine. Mindfulness is a psychological state of awareness and using practices to achieve that awareness. 

Practicing mindfulness can help reduce disengagement, increase cognitive awareness, and improve your memory. There are tools and apps that can help you with this if you’re not sure where to get started. Mindfulness and meditation are great strategies for managing stress, especially as a busy entrepreneur that is constantly on go-mode.

It’s also beneficial to create a supportive network of trusted friends, colleagues, and professionals that you can seek help from when experiencing high stress or burnout. Healthy relationships help prevent isolation, improve self-confidence, boost your happiness, and decrease stress.

Plan and prioritize your time

Time blocking and scheduling are time management skills that are paramount in creating a smooth workflow and controlling your schedule. A time-blocked work week of reasonable hours can often produce the same results as a 60+ hour week without any structure. 

Time blocking can be incredibly helpful if you find yourself regularly being disrupted by emails and messages, have regular meetings splitting up your day, and handle many different projects at a time. According to the International Institute of Time Management, approximately only 20% of the work day is spent on important jobs, while the other 80% is spent on tasks that have little value.

Managing your schedule with time blocking helps you allocate what tasks you will do and when, leaving designated slots open for specific tasks and those tasks only. That way you can focus on one task (or group of tasks) without distraction. For example, you might decide to spend the first hour or two of your day on making schedules and assigning tasks, and the next on responding to emails and addressing financial tasks.

Turn these skills into winning strategies

All of the time management skills we’ve covered are the stepping stones to lead you on the path to success and help to avoid stress and burnout. Not only will these strategies help you manage your day-to-day tasks and keep priorities in line, but they will also have great long-term benefits.

With effective time management skills, you will open the door to more business opportunities, see productivity skyrocket, experience career growth, build better professional relationships, and increase revenue over time. Not to mention, you will be happier, healthier, and more balanced in both professional and personal aspects.

Homebase offers the automated tools you need to manage time more effectively. The app also lets you handle your business needs including scheduling, payroll, onboarding and much more. Explore how Homebase can be a fit for your team.

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