Time means money for business owners.
When managed properly, time is a powerful ally that can help take your business to greater heights.
Do you have what it takes?
Time management is an organizational skill that enables a person to organize, strategize, and implement plans to achieve set goals.
These skills are crucial to business owners, who naturally take most of the responsibility for their business.
How can time management skills be developed?
There is no one right way to develop time management skills, but there are several ways you can acquire and hone them.
We have compiled a list of the time-management skills successful entrepreneurs have that enable them to lead their businesses and people effectively and efficiently.
Read on to learn the importance of time management for entrepreneurs and how to manage time as a business owner.
1. Decision making: Just make that decision!
Probably the most important time management skill you need to learn and develop is decision making.
As a business owner, you will make plenty of decisions and weigh a number of options.
Making the right or wrong decision can make or break your business, so making timely decisions will benefit you in every way.
Similarly, poor time management leads to poor decisions and managing your time well can help you make better decisions.
How to develop decision-making skills
Don’t be scared, make a quick decision and feel confident about the results.
That’s right—just dive right in.
Decisiveness is a common denominator among millionaires. As journalist–author Napoleon Hill discovered from studying over 500 millionaires, the world’s richest all had the habit of reaching decisions quickly.
Interestingly, they changed decisions slowly—and only when they really had to.
By contrast, people who were slow in making decisions and changed them fast enough were the ones who could not accumulate wealth.
This goes to show how much decisiveness can impact your business.
Listen and learn
One way to become a good decision-maker is by honing your observation and listening skills. This way, you get to acquire knowledge silently. Do not disclose your plans, especially early on, to avoid having them sabotaged by your competitors.
Use data and insights
Second, make use of data and insights. Learn to spot patterns.
Numbers don’t lie, and you better believe it. The better you get at recognizing patterns, the more effective you will be at making decisions based on data. This is called data-driven decision making.
We put everything online nowadays—where we eat, go on vacation, and even the things we like. All this information is collected and used to promote products that we are likely to buy.
A study by McKinsey shows that product recommendations based on “sophisticated algorithms” influenced 35 percent of Amazon sales and 75 percent of Netflix binges.
Sounds invasive? Probably, but it’s all about marketing. Use it to your advantage. Let data be your new best friend and you will be better at making informed decisions.
Finally, you need to do some introspection.
Examine your thoughts and actions, and their results or consequences. If you are aware of the impact your words and actions have on others, then you can improve yourself, your thoughts, and ultimately your decisions.
2. Strategic thinking
Strategic thinking is the process of making all the right moves towards achieving your business goals.
French scientist Louis Pasteur, after whom the process of pasteurization is named, famously quoted the popular line, “Chance favours only the prepared mind.”
This is true of any business endeavour—in fact, of any endeavour. Even if you were born with the Midas touch, you will still need a good strategy for your business to forge ahead and stay competitive.
Strategy is both the science and art of careful planning. Strategic thinking in business means creating a plan of action that will lead your business to its goals while maximizing your resources and effecting positive changes in the process.
How to develop strategic thinking
Improved strategic thinking is equal to better time management.
Observe and listen
Develop strategic thinking skills by observing and listening to your environment.
By studying your environment, you will pick up on the strategies that make a business successful and be able to apply them to your own.
Study the competition
Study where other businesses failed. Learn from their mistakes to avoid committing them yourself.
There is always a lesson to be learned and part of thinking strategically is recognizing pitfalls to prevent yourself from falling into them.
Understand the cause and effect
It’s not enough to know that a business succeeded or failed, or how it did. To be able to strategize well, you need to understand the decisions made, the reasons behind them, and the ramifications of those decisions.
Planning is the process of defining your business goals, determining the steps you need to take to achieve those goals, and identifying the resources you will need to do so.
Planning is a skill that will help you prepare for the future and cushion the impacts of any unforeseen events that could lead to a crisis.
If you can plan effectively, then you will be able to manage your time efficiently.
Planning allows you to determine where to focus your efforts and how to go about it. You can make better use of your resources to achieve maximum results.
How to develop your planning skills
1. Create a system
Learn to plan effectively by creating a system that will keep you organized and focused.
2. Identify and delegate
Next, identify the tasks at hand and delegate responsibilities.
3. Set a timeline
Always have a timeline with clear and realistic expectations to help you stay on top of your tasks.
Finally, evaluate your results after accomplishing your goals to see where you could have made adjustments to improve your strategy.
Organizational skills enable you to focus on different tasks and use your time and energy efficiently and efficiently to achieve your business goals.
Just like planning, organising involves a lot of preparation. You need to develop a system that you can use for different tasks and goals.
Once you have a system in place, everything will flow more smoothly and you will have more time to focus on urgent and crucial matters.
However, developing a system can be a trial-and-error process. It may take years before you find the right one that will work for your business.
Develop your organising skills to give you a knack for creating better systems that will help you manage time wisely for your business.
How to develop organisational skills
First, identify your goals and the resources needed to achieve those goals.
2. Create a list
Next, create a list of tasks and arrange them by priority or urgency.
There’s no need to carry a pen and paper everywhere; just pull out your phone and choose a to-do list app!
Here some of the best apps for making to-do lists:
- Remember the Milk
3. Set a timeline
Create a timeline or schedule for each task and delegate them to people who are best suited for that job. Giving a task to someone with no experience or capability for it will only cause delays and setbacks in your business.
Check your timeline regularly to see if you are on track. If you encounter bottlenecks, make sure to find the cause and come up with a solution; or else, it could prevent other people from completing their tasks and cost your business a lot of money.
A study by Geckoboard shows that 77% of small-business owners who did not have targets and did not monitor their real-time progress experienced no growth.
Review your goals regularly. You can always learn from your successes as well as from your mistakes.
Prioritizing is the process of ranking tasks or activities by order of importance or urgency so that you know which ones need immediate attention and resolution.
Knowing which and when to prioritize is a crucial skill in time management because it can prevent bottlenecks and improve your product and/or service.
Many business owners have lost time, opportunities, and even customers because they were not able to prioritize effectively. Don’t let that happen to you or to your business.
How to prioritize effectively
1. Make a list
Similar to planning and organising, prioritising entails having a list of your tasks and goals.
You need to develop the ability to look at your list and quickly identify which ones need to be taken care of right away.
2. Set labels
Use labels—for example, high priority, priority, low priority, and non-urgent—to help you differentiate and recognize the important tasks easily.
3. Create a plan
Once you know which items on your list to prioritize, you can go about creating a plan of action, delegating the tasks, and implementing the plan.
Monitor your activity and make adjustments based on changing needs and priorities.
Being able to prioritize will serve you well in managing your time.
Delegation is simply the transfer of responsibility for a task.
As a business owner, you must acknowledge that you cannot do everything yourself. It is your duty to delegate tasks to your workers.
The ability to delegate wisely is an important time management skill you need to master because it will affect the speed and accuracy of your results.
Learn how to delegate tasks and responsibilities, so you can expend your time and energy on more important and higher-level matters.
How to improve delegation skills
Delegating involves assigning tasks to people who are most qualified for accomplishing them. It also means communicating the task and goals effectively.
Set up appropriate communication channels and ask for progress updates from time to time to make sure you are on track with your business goals.
3. Provide feedback
Provide mentoring and feedback to ensure your worker feels recognized for the work they’ve done. This will also help them improve their skills and learn from their experience.
7. Goal setting
Goal setting gives direction to your business. It enables you to know and communicate what you are hoping to accomplish and how you are going to go about it.
Goal setting is a skill that improves your time management because it keeps you focused and prevents you from losing your way.
Research shows that teams who set goals improve their work performance by 20–25%.
Goals are objectives that can be both short-term and long-term.
Short-term goals are those you can accomplish in the near future—anytime within a year. Long-term goals take more than a year and may involve several steps.
Whether it’s for a short-term or long-term goal, you need to learn how to improve your goal-setting skills if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
How to set goals effectively
1. Set realistic goals
Set realistic and measurable goals that you can accomplish within a specific time frame.
2. Communicate your objectives
Communicate your objectives clearly to avoid assumptions that could jeopardize your target results.
3. Have a contingency plan
There is always a chance that things won’t go as expected, so you need to be prepared for whatever happens. Have a contingency plan for when things don’t fall according to plan.
As usual, monitor your progress and take notes on what you did right or wrong. This is important in improving your methods and skills.
Multitasking is the act of performing two or more tasks at the same time.
By its definition alone, we can easily see how multitasking can help with time management.
Let’s say three tasks take an hour each to accomplish—that means three hours to finish all three tasks. If you are a proficient multitasker, you can complete all three tasks in an hour or two, thus saving your business time—and money.
Many people can get overwhelmed with performing several tasks at once. As an entrepreneur, you are naturally faced with all kinds of challenges, and one of them may be multitasking. You must learn to stay calm and try not to get overwhelmed.
Multitasking is a skill; it can be learned and improved.
How to improve multitasking skills
Make a list
List your tasks so you will know what needs to be done. Sometimes, we feel anxious about responsibilities when we think of them. However, once you see your tasks listed, you will know how to go about doing them.
Group tasks that can be performed simultaneously and those that can be easily accomplished one after the other. For example, deliveries to the same area can be made on the same day, or working on groups of tasks for one client at a time will help create clarity and improve your productivity overall.
This method is a certain way to save you lots of time.
This is another time-management skill you need to learn and develop. To make things easier for yourself and your workers, figure out which tasks should be given importance.
Some tasks may be important but are not urgent. You can delay those in favour of more urgent tasks.
As we mentioned earlier, delegation is the most important skill for you to learn as a business owner.
One way to finish tasks faster is to delegate them. If a task requires you to be in five different places, then you obviously cannot do them all at the same time.
If each task takes an hour to complete, then you will have spent five hours on them all.
Or . . . you can delegate four of the tasks to four other people and finish all five tasks in an hour.
Distractions are the enemy of multitasking. Your attention is already divided, so you don’t need further distractions.
Do not watch Netflix if you need to do the payroll while monitoring production. You know you won’t be able to accomplish anything (or at least do so on time) if you do.
Again, monitor your progress and see how you are doing. If you feel you are headed for a breakdown, take it easy and lessen your tasks.
Recognize how many tasks you can actually perform at once and accept your capacity. With time and practice, you can increase your limit and improve your multitasking skills.
How to improve time management skills
Practice makes perfect
Actually, all these skills get better with time and practice, but you will need patience and the willingness to improve. You need commitment and dedication.
There are several apps that can help improve time management skills. You can use one or two of them to keep you on top of things.
Find a coworking space
You may find working from home just a little bit distracting. After all, you have access to Netflix and the refrigerator, the plants need watering, and all those little household chores are just calling out to you.
Bringing your laptop to a coworking space might be the solution. You would be in an office environment without being in an office.
If you need to set a meeting but have no place or equipment to do so, renting a meeting room might be the answer.
Commit to improving yourself
Time management is the solution to procrastination, missed deadlines, hassles, and constraints.
If you can commit to improving your time management skills, then you are well on your way to increased productivity and better outcomes.
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