Self-employment comes with some unique challenges linked directly to the size and scale of the business. For entrepreneurs and startups, things like time management may not seem important but when you’re wearing all the hats, and everything is on your shoulders, your approach to time management can make or break your success.
The biggest hurdle for the self-employed is a very limited pool of resources. This includes time limitations, not enough hands/employees, and limited funds to spend on things like process improvements or contract outsourcing.
That leaves you to do all the work wear all the hats, and try to juggle it all. If you’re wondering how other self-employed professionals are able to find success look no further than the time management tips compiled below.
Using Technology to Improve Time Management
There are countless tools, platforms, and software applications that can help you reign in your chaotic scheduling and button down your to-do lists each day. While some may have a premium investment or recurring fee, many time management tools are completely free. Here are some tips to get technology on your side and manage your time a little better.
Start with email
According to the McKinsey Global Institute the average worker spends around 13 hours a week reading and responding to emails – or about 28% of their work week. You can add significantly more time to that for a self-employed business owner. Manage your time better by blocking out specific times to check and respond to email. This way you can’t get sidetracked during important projects.
Time management apps to stay organized
Sometimes the problem with time management is that you might lack control with your schedule. It’s natural for self-employed professionals to get overwhelmed and lose track of what needs to be done. Thankfully, there are countless apps available that help with time management and improving organizational skills. These apps include:
• Google Calendar for creating and tracking tasks
• Slackand similar chat platforms allow for easy management of projects and task-related discussions
Build and organize your Email List
Even if you already have an email list you should focus on improving it. Rather than manually selecting different lists as you create campaigns you should have your lists broken into various audience segments. At the same time, create a branded template you can use when sending emails, so you don’t waste time designing emails each time you need to send something to subscribers.
Shut down social
Social media can suck up a significant amount of your time, especially if you’re among the self-employed who spend a third of their time dealing with emails. Imagine if you lost another third (or more) of your work week to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn? If you need to be active on social, then use a tool like Hootsuite to help you schedule your posts ahead of time and avoid getting caught up in the endless stream of content feeds.
Use simple software
Time management can be impacted by the software you use to run your business as well. Don’t buy software or SaaS subscriptions just because they’re popular. Some of the most popular platforms, like Salesforce, can be complex and require extra time to learn and manage. Go with something simple for things like your CRM and focus on meeting your needs rather than buying the bells and whistles.
Better Time Management Around the Office
Software and tools can only take you so far. You still need to make choices throughout your day that keep your forward momentum going. Here are some tips to help you better manage your time around the office.
Plan your day/week
Stay motivated and on point with task lists for each day that work toward your major milestones or goals for the week. If you focus on prioritizing your list and knocking items out, you’ll nail your time management each day. Staying focused on a prioritized list is also a great way to avoid distractions like social media or getting pulled off task.
Tackle small distractions
While you shouldn’t let things distract you from your primary tasks and to-do list, you should try to follow the two-minute rule. If somethings pops up, and it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to deal with, then get it done so you’re not stacking a ton of minor tasks onto the end of your day or putting things off until tomorrow.
Outsource and get help
Just because you have to wear a lot of hats doesn’t mean you need to do everything on your own. Hire a virtual assistant or other professional to help manage the smaller tasks you trust to delegate. You can negotiate the hours and find someone that fits your budget without hiring a full-time employee. It’s an affordable approach to time management that allows you to focus on tasks most relevant to growing your business.
Meetings are rarely a necessity unless group discussion, relationships need face time, or presentation is in order for clarity of the message. If you can get the information to everyone without a meeting, do it.
Manage your lost time
When you’re stuck and can’t deviate from what you’re doing, like driving or sitting on hold for an extended period, don’t just let the time be lost. Listen to an audio book, read something, brainstorm, think about the tasks for the next day, etc. Find a way to make that time work for you.
Balance your time to work smarter
Taking on too much over too many hours will eventually wear you down. Find a balance between working harder and working smarter. Know when to call it quits so you take time for food, exercise, rest, and especially sleep.
One of the most important tips to remember for better time management is that there will always be more work. You’ll never get everything done that needs to be done, so stop trying to complete it all every day. Make lists, prioritize your day, focus on the items that have the greatest impact on your bottom line, and minimize the distractions. Make those small improvements in time management and you’ll see the payoff in your productivity and bottom line.
Post by by Tim Parker