As a small-business owner, does it feel like there is never enough time in the day—no matter how hard you work? You are not alone.
According to a number of surveys, entrepreneurs put in way more than 40 hours a week. In fact, the majority spend more than 50 hours per week at their companies, with many hitting an average of 60 to 100 hours. In the short term, it can be awesome to get the needle moving. But for an extended period of time, this type of workload can lead to all kinds of problems—mentally and physically—as well as take a toll on your family life.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. With the right time-management skills, you’ll be amazed how productive and efficient you can be. To get you started on getting your life back, we’ve asked a number of super successful EntreLeaders for their best advice. Here are their top tips.
- Within the past year, I did a 60-day time study. The results were clear. As the business owner, I was spending much of my time doing things that I should have had other people doing. I wasn't really surprised. But the black-and-white data made it obvious to me and others who advise me. From there, I made some personnel decisions that freed me up to invest more in direction and development of people.
—Charlie Quaile, Chimneys Plus Gutter Solutions, Moncure, North Carolina
- Most leaders spend a great deal of their valuable time in meetings, and rightly so. But time spent in a bad meeting is time spent on something that’s not going to provide a return on the investment. Patrick Lencioni’s book Death By Meeting is a fantastic resource for learning how to facilitate effective, efficient and meaningful meetings.
—Nate Fleischer, OneGuard Home Warranties, Phoenix
- Scheduling even the smallest task in your calendar is key. Spending the time each week to do it makes for really productive days for me. It saves a ton of time wondering which project or task to do next. I also highly recommend time chunking of like tasks.
- I have a sheet of paper for each day. It’s where I write out my priority activities for each area:
I make sure I address each area and check off the activities as I am doing them. I review my goals and do my gratitude journal first so that my heart and my mind are focused and sharp to select the best use of my time.
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—Joseph Nelson, Stewardship Investments, Bagley, Minnesota
- I ask myself daily what's the ONE thing I need to do now that will positively affect reaching our goals and accomplishing our mission as a company.
—Kevin Wallenbeck, InteractRV, Midland, Michigan
- My number-one time-saving tip is delegation. Use your organizational chart and delegate what needs to be done. I must say, though, I am still working on it, but it is a priority.
—John Patterson, WORD International, Elon, North Carolina
- Turning off all email and social media notifications on my cell phone has saved me a tremendous amount of time. Without a constant barrage of notifications, I can focus on what's important for my business.
—Tyler Hudgins, Social Tech Consulting, Higley, Arizona
- Doing daily huddles with our leadership team saves time in communications and reducing email traffic. Our huddles are limited to 15 minutes. Everyone reports what they are up to, what they are stuck on and need help with, and the one thing they are going to accomplish that day that will make a difference.
—Allen Howell, Corporate Flight Management, Smyrna, Tennessee
- This doesn't happen every day but when my husband and I get to ride together, I can get through most of my emails before we arrive. It really gives me a head start to my day.
—Audra Turner, Paul Mitchell the School, Dallas
- Take the time every day to look at your schedule not only a week into the future to help prepare, but also a week back, ensuring you’ve picked up loose ends and moved the ball forward on any unfinished business.
—Ken Babby, Fast Forward Sports Group, Akron, Ohio
- If I have the same thing to do for multiple clients, it’s better for me to work through them at the same time and then move to another activity. Time blocking for call-backs, etc. helps too.
—Amy Cook, Waddell & Reed, San Mateo, California
- For home, it’s having meals prepped ahead. So after work or school/sports, it doesn't feel so overwhelming. It saves money by not ending up eating out because you don't feel up to cooking/cleaning. And it preserves family time! For work, it’s making to-do lists and clumping tasks by location or type.
—John and Shannon Graves, All Points Safety Services, Grand Rapids, Michigan
- My number-one tip? Treat your day as you do your budget and plan your time before you spend it, instead of wondering where your time went.
—Tim Marquez, A-Best Industrial, San Pedro, California
- One of the best time-savers is to create a to-do list in a spreadsheet. My tasks are organized by priority: A=today, B=tomorrow, C=next week, and D=whenever.
—Jason Apol, Logicraft Industrial Systems, Hopkins, Michigan
- Our lives are so busy, Sharon and I put absolutely everything on our calendar. We even schedule the stuff we really shouldn’t have to, like date night. We block that time out. We are very careful and intentional about rest, recreation, exercise, our marriage time and kid time.
Want to learn more about managing your time? Check out our EntreLeadership podcast, which features some of the top business brains in the world discussing work-life balance and productivity, plus many other great subjects that will help your business grow. Subscribe now. It’s free!