Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners
Time management is paramount for effectively running a small business. As a small business owner, you are responsible for a wide breadth of tasks such as accounting, finance, human resources, product development, marketing, and more. Managing this huge volume of responsibilities and still finding time to focus on strategically growing your business can be daunting, but it’s essential if you want your business to be successful.
This article discusses time management tips for business owners that can help you reduce the amount of time you spend on low-value or unnecessary tasks, enhance productivity, and streamline processes, freeing you to focus on strategic objectives.
Delegate and Outsource
The notion that "if you want it done right, do it yourself" can be a hindrance. Instead, make a habit of delegating tasks that are less important or have a longer lead time. When possible, try to delegate tasks according to your employees’ strengths and interests. Assigning responsibilities that interest them can improve employee engagement and retention, increasing efficiency and reducing the need for costly rehiring. For activities outside your team’s skill set, consider outsourcing. For instance, talking to a small business banker can help you learn where to automate financial transactions and leverage tools to simplify managing your business’s finances.
Leverage “Tomatoes” and Other Time-saving Tools
Research time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique (Italian for “tomato”) that may be useful for you. Below is a small sample of techniques that can help you minimize task switching, prioritize effectively, and visualize your to-do list.
The Pomodoro Technique entails focusing on a specific task for 25 minutes at a time, followed by a 5-minute break. Each 30-minute interval is called a Pomodoro; and a longer, 15-30-minute break may be taken after 4 Pomodori, or every 2 hours. A developer and entrepreneur named Francesco Cirillo created the Pomodoro technique using trial and error and a tomato-shaped kitchen timer. Cirillo found that trying to stay focused on a single task for an hour or longer was futile; he experimented with different work intervals and settled on 25-minute stints to stay focused and stave off mental fatigue. The Pomodoro Technique may be right for you if you:
- Have lots of open-ended work that could theoretically be done indefinitely, such as studying for industry certifications
- Tend to work past the point of optimal productivity
- Feel refreshed and energized when you take small breaks during work
Create a Personal Kanban to Visualize Your Work
Kanban means “signboard” or “billboard” in Japanese. Creating a personal kanban is an effective tool for visualizing your work, keeping you focused on the task at hand and less likely to let anything fall through the cracks. Getting started can be as simple as creating three columns in an Excel sheet or on a whiteboard. Label the columns “To-do,” “Doing,” and “Done.” Try color-coding the tasks as high-, medium-, or low-priority using different fonts or coloring cells in Excel, or with different colored sticky notes on a whiteboard. As a rule of thumb, choose no more than three tasks for your “doing” column. If you find this difficult, try to break your work into smaller increments. For example, instead of “launch direct mail campaign,” break your task into smaller steps such as “approve mailer design,” “get direct mail quote from vendor,” and so on. Keeping a personal kanban helps with time management by making it easier to decide what to prioritize, track your backlog of to-do-items, and keep track of all the tasks you complete as you go about your busy day.
Build an Eisenhower Matrix
An Eisenhower Matrix is a simple but effective tool for choosing what to delegate, delete, do now, or schedule for later. To get started, create a chart with four quadrants. On the top, write “Urgent” and “Not Urgent” above the left- and right-hand sides of the matrix. Down the left-hand side of the matrix, write “Important” and “Not Important.”
Quadrant 1: Do Now
Quadrant one consists of tasks that are both urgent (have a tight deadline) and important (have a significant personal or business impact). You’ll want to tackle these immediately.
Quadrant 2: Schedule for Later
Quadrant two is the “schedule” quadrant, and this is where you’ll place any tasks that are not urgent but are still important—for example, a long-term strategic planning meeting with no set deadline.
Quadrant 3: Delegate
Quadrant three is the “delegate” quadrant, and this is where you’ll place any tasks that are urgent but not important. These tasks must be completed soon, but they may not affect your long-term goals.
Quadrant 4: Delete
Once you’ve gone through your to-do list and added tasks to the first three quadrants, you’ll notice that a handful of tasks are left over. These less important, non-urgent distractions may be getting in the way of you accomplishing your goals. Strongly consider deleting these from your to-do list. If you find yourself reluctant to do so, schedule or delegate them accordingly.
Implement Banking Solutions to Simplify Financial Management
At CSB, our business bankers are invested in our customers and their businesses. We invite you to leverage their expertise and tools to help you better manage your cash flow, automate recurring payments, set up time-saving financial tools, and retain control of your finances to prevent fraud and give you peace-of-mind. Below is a high-level summary of available products and services. To learn more, please contact a business banker today.
Remote Deposit Capture (RDC)
RDC is a banking service that allows a business owner to deposit checks into an account by transmitting digital images of their checks using a mobile device or check scanner instead of driving to a branch.
Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) Payments
ACH is an electronic network that processes large volumes of both credit and debit transactions. Businesses can use ACH to pay supplier invoices, bills, and other business expenses, and get paid for providing goods and services to customers. ACH payments:
- Enable businesses to automate their payables and receivables
- Provide predictable cash flow
- Reduce administrative cost
- Provide information about invoices to customers and invoices from suppliers
Line of Credit Sweep
Setting up a sweep to line of credit automatically transfers funds between your line of credit and business checking accounts to avoid overdrafts and minimize interest expenses without the need to manually monitor and transfer funds.
Zero Balance Accounts (ZBAs)
A ZBA is a checking account that maintains a consistent balance at zero or within a targeted range. Funds are transferred from a primary account in exact amounts needed for a payment, investment, or other purpose. Think of your ZBA as a child to your primary, or parent, operating business account. Each day after transactions have posted to the ZBA, the exact amount is transferred to maintain the preselected balance. Employing a ZBA may help you:
- Simplify accounting procedures
- Reduce the time and effort needed to reconcile multiple operating accounts
- Manage multiple accounts from a single account
- Improve tracking of collections and disbursements
Saving time isn't just about rushing through tasks; it's about streamlining processes, making informed decisions about how to allocate time, and using available resources effectively. Embrace these tools and tactics, and watch your business grow as you reclaim precious hours in your day.