To many, the entrepreneur is viewed with admiration and jealousy. How come you have to work long hours for a company that doesn’t really care about you while the entrepreneur gets to run their own life and have a seemingly perfect work-life? This view, as many business owners know, is often a laughable one as work-life balance can be non-existent. It doesn’t have to be this way however and with a little work on your productivity you can actually get something akin to a good balance.
Here are three tips to help small business owners or managers be more productive and from that achieve a more desirable work-life balance.
Learn how you spend your time
To be productive, you need to know how you spend your time. The easiest way to do this is to keep a log, or journal, of what you do each day. You should include everything you do in relation to work, including: travel time, Facebook breaks, time spent checking emails, meetings, etc.
The goal here is twofold. Firstly, you get a solid glimpse of how you spend each day; secondly, you can see if there is anything you do that takes up way too much time. Some experts suggest you do this for a week at least. To get the best results though, it would be better to do this for at least two weeks to a month.
There are a number of different ways you can go about journaling your activities. For the old-fashioned among us, go buy a day-timer that has at least one page per each day. For the more technical, your email programs like Outlook or Gmail have powerful calendars that you can record activities on. For the mobile crowd, mobile versions of Outlook, Google Calendar or even your phone’s native calendar app will work great.
When you have your day timer/calendar app, it’s time to start recording your activities. Record when you start one, and when you finish. From there, clearly label the activity. Over a few weeks, or even days, you will begin to see a clear picture of how you spend your time.
Plan to be more productive
After you have figured out where you spend your time, you can begin to schedule around your strengths and weaknesses. The key here is to schedule time that is uninterrupted so you can focus on one task. If you find that you are checking your email every five minutes, it may be a good idea to schedule time in the morning and just after lunch for checking and replying to emails. When you aren’t in that time period, you can work in a focused way on something else.
By sticking to a more rigid schedule you will find your productivity starts to rise. If you are having a tough time keeping to a set schedule, try using the pomodoro technique. This is where you set a certain amount of time for one task, and gradually increase the amount of time you focus on that task.
Play off your strengths
If you are a small business owner, chances are you wear lots of hats. One minute you’re wearing a spiffy salesperson hat while the next you’re wearing an HR hat. This constant switching of roles, or doing everything yourself, is not good business practice.
If you are aware that you are constantly spending time on bookkeeping and yet hardly get anything done because you lack the necessary accounting skills, it may be a good idea to look into hiring a part-time accountant.
Many business owners struggle with delegation, as they feel the need to control everything. One way to challenge this idea is by looking at your hourly rate. If you charge $100 an hour and an accountant is $50 an hour, it makes sense to hire the accountant instead.
By outsourcing, you will find that you have more time to focus on what you’re good at. As a result your productivity will rise and a better work-life balance will soon follow. If you’d like to learn more about how our IT systems can help make you even more productive, please contact us.