As a small business owner, the biggest challenge is usually not so much in knowing what to do. After all, you have probably studied as much as you can and looked into finding what needs to be done next. The biggest challenge for many is having the time to get everything done.
If you’re like many other small business owners, you probably have a schedule that is full of tasks, projects, meetings, and marketing plans that need to be done. This can cause a lot of stress, especially when you don’t achieve all you set out to each day. This often leads to moving the un-done tasks from today’s to-do list to tomorrow’s, putting you behind schedule tomorrow before the day even begins!
The good news is that there are only five actions you need to complete to get more done each and every day, so that you still have time to spend on yourself.
Yes, just 5.
That is what you want, isn’t it? You want to get business stuff done without feeling overwhelmed, leaving you some time for yourself, your family and your friends.
1. Determine what must get done to help you move forward and what is busy work.
It is extremely important that you know and understand which of your tasks must be completed, and which can be put to the side to be completed at another date or not completed at all (at least not by you).
Even if you don’t think you have it, set aside about two hours. During the first hour make a list of everything that you do daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. Make sure you include everything including the small things such as posting to Facebook and checking email to the big things such as tracking your expenses and paying your bills.
Once your list is complete, spend the next hour prioritizing your list.
Break it down into three categories:
- things that you must do to keep your business running,
- things that will help move your business forward,
- and things that are nice to get done but don’t normally get done.
When your lists are finished you will easily be able to determine which tasks you must get done to productively move forward in your business and which are only keeping busy without any productive movement.
2. Delegate tasks to your team.
Take your list of tasks that must get done and delegate what you can to your team.
First, decide which tasks you want to complete because they fall into your skill sets. Do not decide to complete tasks simply because you feel you are the only one who can do them well. If you enjoy writing blog articles, then write them. But, if you are better at managing a team and communicating with customers, then do that.
Next, find out which tasks each team member has the skill set for (if you don’t already know) and ask them to complete that task. If you do not have a large team, that is fine, you can still find someone else to complete that task. There are plenty of outsourcing opportunities and websites to help with this.
3. Schedule time to check your email.
Do you find yourself obsessing over your email, constantly checking it, or feeling overwhelmed by your full inbox? You are not alone. Millions of business owners feel just like you when it comes to email.
The best thing you can do to help reduce your overwhelm is to schedule time into your calendar for checking email. You may have to test a few different time slots to find what works best for you, but once you do, your whole email experience will change.
Once you have decided on a time, stick with your schedule (use a timer when you first start). Your clients will get used to your schedule, and you will have less overwhelm.
If you’re finding that it’s not possible to reply to all of your emails in a small, set time, or if your business is one in which you must reply to emails more often, look at hiring someone – or outsourcing to someone – who can manage these emails. A Virtual Assistant (VA) can be ideal for this role.
4. Take advantage of the technology available to you.
Microsoft Outlook and excel are common software programs while your smartphone is a common piece of technology that you probably use on a daily basis. How much do you really know about using these items?
You may use them and enjoy their functions, but do you know all the shortcuts available to you? Microsoft Outlook (and other email services), for example, provide quick shortcuts for adding appointments and meetings directly to your calendar. Instead of using these shortcuts you may be manually entering each event and appointment into your calendar. (This is one of those tasks that you could delegate.)
You may also be missing some helpful apps on your smartphone such as Evernote or your favorite to-do list. You’ll be able to get more done if you spend a bit of time learning how to fully take advantage of what technology has to offer. Once you embrace technology and a few time-saving apps, you may wonder how you manged without it!
5. Reflect, review, and repeat.
As you complete each of the actions above, make sure you schedule time to reflect and review upon what you have done. A weekly, monthly, and quarterly review of what worked and what didn’t can truly help take your business forward with great force.