David Bakke is a small business owner, entrepreneur, and contributing team member of Money Crashers where he writes about personal finance, technology, and more.
So, you've decided to launch a business and you're doing it on your own. While congratulations are certainly in order, one quick pat on the back should suffice before you bear down and get to work. Since you won't have an accountant, a marketing director, or any staff support, your success depends on getting the most out of each and every day, which means that effectively managing your time is essential. Here are six tips to get you started as you set out on your journey:
1. Multitask Effectively
Multitasking is such a catch word in today's business environment that it has become an essential part of getting anything done at all. The reality, however, is that if poorly executed, multitasking can do more harm than good. Checking emails while talking on the phone is fine, yes, but if you're involved in a serious task with a deadline, you need to devote your full concentration to it. Deciding which of these tasks are critical and which are not is part of being a CEO, so get used to it now.
2. Don't Just Schedule Breaks; Take Them
Scheduling breaks is easy, but taking them is another matter entirely. You're ambitious and energetic, but even the great superpreneurs can burn themselves out, and that does neither you nor your business any good. When you come to a break you've scheduled, take it. Even if it just means a few minutes away from your desk, the benefit to your mind, body, and business is tangible.
3. Create To-Do Lists
You can set all the Outlook reminders in the world, but the most effective way to get things done is to manually write out a to-do list each day. You can start off in the morning by reminding yourself what's most important, how much time you should devote to each task, and getting a clear picture of what your day is going to look like, hopefully leading to less stress and more confidence.
4. Prioritize Each Day
When creating your list, prioritize what needs to get done when. If you're at your best early in the morning, schedule your big projects during that time. If you don't really get going until after lunch, assign your important tasks for the afternoon. Prioritizing your to-do list can help keep you performing at a high level throughout the course of the day.
5. Cut Short Unnecessary Conversations
If someone calls to offer you an unneeded service, cut them off quickly. If you encounter a B2B rep who's not proposing something your business needs, make that a short conversation as well. Be respectful, but know that these people are going waste your time if you let them; it's their job. Make your time work for you and your business, not someone else's.
If you think exercise has nothing to do with time management, think again. Getting your daily jog in around the neighborhood, completing your yoga practice, or working out at the gym can help ensure you get a good night's sleep and that your metabolism stays high the following day, which is going to make completing your tasks that much easier. Not to mention, getting out and clearing your mind helps keep you mentally sharp and refreshed.
Once you put these ideas in place, make sure you schedule a little down-time for yourself every day. There's no need to burn the candle at both ends to make your business successful. More often than not, it hurts more than it helps. Get yourself a Wii and spend time unwinding with video games, catch up on your Facebook postings, or listen to some music. Me-time can go a long way toward making you a more productive entrepreneur over the long-term, and the long-term is exactly what you're building your business for. What time management tips can you think of for small business owners going at it alone?