In theory, being your own boss means you can claim back your time. In practice, so many online entrepreneurs say that they often feel like they’re on a hamster wheel, always running to satisfy the ever-growing demands of their business. Feeling swamped the minute you open your email inbox in the morning shouldn’t be your new normal, but it is the reality of many online entrepreneurs.
Have you been missing out on spending time with your family and friends because you’re always working late? Are you always completing routine maintenance tasks instead of acquiring new customers? Do you feel like the time you spend isn’t productive? If this is the case, you’d definitely benefit from learning some time management strategies.
Here are five simple time management strategies that will help you be more productive with your online business.
Stop Procrastinating. Seriously, Stop!
Procrastinating is the single biggest cause of losing precious productive time working on your business. According to a 2013 survey by salary.com, 69% of survey respondents frequently waste time at work.
Sometimes it’s difficult to admit that you’re susceptible to procrastination. After all, entrepreneurs are movers and shakers, and movers and shakers don’t waste time! But procrastination isn’t related only to spending time on social media when you’re supposed to be working. It often takes the form of delaying difficult or time-consuming tasks in favor of simpler ones. The reasons why we procrastinate vary. Most often, it’s a tool to relieve some pressure or satisfy one’s perfectionism by delaying making potential mistakes.
There are several ways to stop procrastinating. Our favorite way is putting the biggest, most daunting task at the top of the priority list. That way, there’s no excuses, and the happy hormones released by delaying a difficult task will be replaced by the feeling of accomplishment once you’ve completed it.
Learn How to Prioritize from the Masters
Prioritizing important tasks isn’t just a neat way to nip procrastination in the bud. It’s the single most valuable skill you can learn to maximize the productivity of your online business. Is there any wonder that so many studies and methodologies have been developed around the ways of mastering this incredibly important time management technique?
Perhaps you’ve heard of David Allen’s best-selling productivity book, Getting Things Done. In it, he recommends a brain dump technique to help stimulate the brain and build a to-do list. You leave a to-do list open over the weekend and add crucial tasks to it as soon as you remember them. A comprehensive list of tasks can easily be put in tiers of priority and broken down.
As you can imagine, presidents have a lot on their plate, so they should be masters of prioritizing. The 34th president, Dwight Eisenhower, invented one famous method of doing just that. He would sort tasks based on how important and urgent they are, and solve the problems that have both qualities first. Then he would address the remaining important tasks according to the deadlines he would assign to them. The president recommended delegating the urgent but unimportant tasks, and not spending more than 5% of your time on the rest!
Learn What to Outsource and Delegate
As we previously mentioned, not learning how and what to delegate is one of the common mistakes that can delay the growth of your business. Taking back your time is the most common time management trick in the book. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of doing everything yourself, because everything you’re doing for your business is worth doing well. Trusting someone else with a vital task is a difficult step to take.
Learning how to delegate can be as simple as investing extra time upfront into training your employees so that you can claim it back later. Also, there are so many aspects of running an online business that you can outsource to professionals. A professional graphic designer will do a better job of designing your website logo than you!
Use Technology, It’s Your Secret Weapon
In the old days, before every house had an internet connection, business owners had to go out in the real world to make connections. That meant knocking on doors, mailing out letters, handing out flyers, and gathering people at in-person events. We are all glad we can leave all that behind, and market our businesses on social media.
Why not make technology your friend when it comes to time management, too? Don’t wonder what to post on Instagram today. Plan out a social media calendar a month in advance, and spend next to no time on it day to day. Use productivity apps to keep yourself on track, and block out your time on Google Calendar or any other calendar app of your choice.
Plan for Things to Go Wrong
The last tip is very simple, but it is often overlooked. Instead of a packed schedule, you might want to create a schedule that breathes. Plan in breaks, interruptions, and even anticipate things that will go wrong.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should drive yourself mad thinking that your entire schedule will collapse every day. However, a perfect work environment where no one will interrupt you, nothing urgent will happen at home, and every deadline will be met just isn’t possible. Moreover, having some wiggle room is important for your sanity, and taking breaks refreshes the mind and the body.
When you’re writing out your schedule, leave in a little room between different tasks – between 5 to 15 minutes. Managing your time this way will help with not feeling rushed and overwhelmed. In case one of the tasks proves to be more time-consuming than what you estimated, you will be glad you have the extra time to focus on the issue at hand.
While growing an online business is a time-consuming effort, you don’t have to feel like your business is the boss of your time. Managing your most precious business resource is now fully within your grasp.
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