In 2018, I launched The Small Business Edge Podcast, sponsored by Oracle, which showcases a different business strategist, advisor, or leader in the small-to-medium business (SMB) space in each episode. To date, the podcasts I’ve hosted have covered the new tax laws, business financing, digital transformation, and everything else that keeps entrepreneurs up at night.
During these podcasts, one recurring theme came to light in every interview—and, it surprised me. The guests all expressed that a big obstacle keeping business owners from achieving their goals was time management. In their own unique way, each said, “If you want to be successful in business, you must guard your time like it’s money in your pocket.” I couldn’t agree more.
Below are five suggestions to help business owners and executives better manage their time. When implemented correctly, you should find more time in the day to achieve your goals while pushing off the “time robbers” who, either maliciously or innocently, try to steal your most valuable commodity.
- Prepare for your day ahead of time. Your success tomorrow starts with proper planning the night before. Create a detailed plan on how you expect the day to go. What are the major objectives or goals you want to accomplish? When will you do them during the day? The key is to be proactive; not reactive.
- Start your day early. The earlier you rise, the more time you have to accomplish your goals for the day. When you get to work, start with the biggest goals or the toughest assignments first. They will require the most effort, which you can give when you have the most energy. If necessary, break the projects into smaller, more manageable pieces. Leave the easier, less stressful things to do until the end of the day.
- Figure out where the “time robbers” are in your day. Whether it’s a 45-minute phone call with an old friend in the middle of the day or playing games online to avoid dealing with the work on your desk, you must address these time robbers. If time is money, then wasted hours are costing your business in a big way. Get rid of them.
- Take a break. Every 45-60 minutes, stop what you’re doing to recharge your batteries and clear your mind. Go for a walk, stretch, or do something that gets you away from your work. Also, leave your phone behind. Make sure you drink water and eat—but don’t over eat. These tips are designed to help your body and mind operate at optimum levels.
- At the end of the day, call it a day. There will always be one more phone call to make, one more email to send, and one more proposal to write. Set a time to end your business day. Leave 30 minutes to clean off your desk and create your list for tomorrow.
If you struggle with time management, then use the next 30 days to make it a top priority. Everything you do in business has ties to how you manage the clock on the wall (or your phone). When you’re pressed for time, the things you hate to do are typically the first items to fall through the cracks—sending invoices, calculating expenses, or dealing with tough clients. Don’t let this happen.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from former basketball coach John Wooden: “If you don’t have the time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
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