If you’re a solo entrepreneur, you have to manage all the various aspects of owning your own business. That means wearing many different hats, including salesperson, marketing lead, HR, accountant, and more. Managing all the tasks associated with these different aspects of business can get overwhelming.
Whether you’re a consultant or running a business where it doesn’t make sense to hire employees, you are likely faced with a never-ending dilemma about how to get everything done effectively. Good news! There are ways to manage your time more effectively so you can remain efficient — and sane!
Documenting a list of things you have to do along with a strategy to accomplish everything can help you be more efficient with your time. Start by creating a list of the items you need to accomplish for the week. Then, prioritize those items. Be as specific as possible when listing out your objectives and include a timetable.
Consider your work style. Are you more productive when you tackle a few easy things first or do you like to get harder tasks out of the way and then move onto easier items? In some circles, a good rule of thumb is to complete any tasks that take under 2 minutes right away. This can prevent task lists from getting unnecessarily long and onerous.
While you may not be in need of full-time employees, that doesn’t mean you can’t farm out certain tasks to contractors. This may be the most beneficial time management tool you can use, especially for specialized tasks that will take you longer to research and complete than it will to simply hire someone to take care of it. Yes, it will cost money; however, consider the value of your time. If bookkeeping and filing taxes will take you so much time that it steals away from the time you could be spending on the core business, it probably makes sense to contract an accountant or bookkeeper to manage those items for you.
This is also true for clerical, administrative, and/or repeatable tasks. Some of these tasks can get in the way of your productivity when it comes to your core business. Consider looking to sites like Upwork or Fiverr to find cost-effective contractors that can take some of these items off of your plate. Start with tasks that you don’t really enjoy doing or that take a lot of time to do. Spending a little bit of money on someone who can remove burdensome items from your to-do list frees you up to spend more time on income-producing activities.
The average person spends roughly 13 hours per week — or more than 650 hours per year — on emails and managing an inbox. That is time better spent focusing on core business activities. Thankfully, there are several ways to be more efficient when it comes to email. For one, delete any unimportant or unnecessary emails. Where action is needed, determine whether it should be done immediately or added to your to-do list. Generally speaking, if something can be done in under 2 minutes, tackle it right away. For tasks that take longer, determine whether or not it would be beneficial to delegate whatever action is necessary or to do it yourself.
Consider organizing your inbox in a more manageable way. Many email services like Gmail enable you to turn emails into tasks you can keep track of, along with alerts that notify you when things are due. You can also utilize folders and subfolders to keep things organized and easy to reference for future tasks. Finally, use the archive feature to keep your inbox tidy without misplacing important emails.
Apps can be a helpful way to manage your time and accomplish more with less. Start with the basics: calendars, to-do lists, file organizers, and messaging tools. Here are a few to get started:
Leveraging these tools can help you stay organized, connected, and on schedule. Combined with a well-laid plan for accomplishing all your tasks, these can make you an efficient machine.
If you look carefully, you may have more time than you think. If you commute to work, for example, you can use that time on productive things. Consider skipping music and listening to an audiobook instead. Even trips to the doctor’s office can be productive. Spend your time in the waiting room taking care of smaller tasks that can be done remotely. Answer that email you’ve been putting off. Read that article that your client sent over. There are little pockets of time hidden within each day. Uncover them and see if there are smaller items you can check off your to-do list.
Some people are more productive in the morning while others find they can get more done in the evening. Figure out your own work style and build your day and your schedule around it. If you find it easier to focus in the morning, consider waking up a bit earlier to pack more into the morning hours. Work better at night? Maybe adjust your schedule accordingly so you have more time to work in the evening.
Creating chunks of time is great, but if you don’t have the energy to be productive within the allotted time, it’s useless. Focus on cultivating useful, productive energy. This means making sure you get enough sleep each night (aim for 7-9 hours), eating well, and creating space to do the things you love. While it seems counterintuitive, ensuring that you spend some time each day on things that make you feel good (whether it’s a run, painting, or watching your favorite show) can actually give you more energy to be productive.
Bonus Tip: Cultivating a solid relationship with your doctor can help you boost useful energy by keeping your health in check. Patient-centered care means you get the support you need to make decisions that keep you healthy and able to work. Looking for a health plan that supports this type of doctor-patient relationship? Check us out...
Implementing some of these tips into your daily routine may help you be more productive, save time, and find a better balance. Take advantage of the guidance that works for you. Plan well, leverage help when you need it, and remember to save some time for fun!