One of the benefits of owning your own business is the flexibility that comes with it—working from wherever you want, setting your own hours, wearing your PJs or even sitting next to your pet while you work. Just as important, owning your own business lets you set your priorities. While both of these benefits are huge pros—there can be a downside. As a small business owner, you may be particularly prone to spending too much time on the work side of the teeter-totter—letting your work life interfere with your family/personal life. You can guard against this by becoming an expert in Time Management and Delegation.
Time Management—Managing your time effectively can considerably improve your work-life balance.
- Set goals—Make sure you’re engaging in activities that support your business goals. Everything else is a potential time-waster. Your daily plan should revolve around working on tasks and activities that directly relate to generating income and growing your business.
- Plan ahead—One of the worst things you can do is jump into the workday with no clear idea about what needs to get done.
- The night before — At the end of the day, take 15 minutes to clear your desk and put together a list of the next day’s most pressing tasks. It’s a great decompression technique, and you’ll feel better sitting down at a clean desk in the morning.
- First thing in the morning — Arrive a few minutes early and assemble your prioritized to-do list. This may prove to be the most productive part of your day.
- Prioritize—Write down your three or four “important and urgent” tasks that must be addressed today. As you complete each one, check it off your list. This will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and can motivate you to tackle less essential items.
- Just say no—You’re the boss. If you have to decline a request in order to attend to what’s truly important and urgent, do not hesitate to do so. The same goes for any projects or activities you’ve determined are headed nowhere—be prepared to move on to more productive tasks. Learn from the experience to avoid wasting time later on.
- Eliminate distractions—It may take a massive exercise in willpower, but shut the door and turn off your phone to maximize time. Instead of being “always on,” plan a break in the day to catch up on email, call people back, talk with staff, etc.
Delegation—This important skill, at home or at work, frees up time. Many small business owners have a great deal of difficulty delegating even minor tasks. Fear of loss of control or spending money are the usual reasons. If finances are not an issue and you have employees (or contracted help), sit down and make a list of tasks you can delegate. Examples tasks to delegate:
- Business website design/maintenance
- Social media postings (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- Creating and sending out promotional material, newsletters, etc.
- Customer support
- Data Entry
- Technical support
- Invoicing/Filing (paper or digital)
- Paying bills/Making bank deposits
- Purchasing office equipment and supplies
- Booking flights, hotels, rental vehicles
The same applies to your home environment. Do you enjoy doing house and yard maintenance during your time off work? If not, consider outsourcing or engaging family members to perform some of these tasks. Examples tasks to delegate at home:
- Yard maintenance – mowing, maintaining shrubs and gardens, pruning trees, etc.
- Washing windows
- Cleaning gutters
- House cleaning
- Grocery shopping