Time management tips for small business owners

Article by Luke Richbourg.

Running a small business is a grueling marathon, and requires wearing many hats from CEO to copy boy to shipping clerk to customer relations to accountant. Here are some tips to help under-resourced small businesses owners squeeze more juice from a day.

Log your time – Keeping track of your time is an unpleasant burden but will provide critical insight. How DID the day pass so quickly? Did you spend 4 hours comparing venders and terms? Could such tasks be efficiently outsourced?  Be honest in your time logging, and do it over a representative course of days at least to get a quantitative picture of your productivity.

Identify time wasters – This is basically a higher-level assessment of you time log. Was the time well-spent? A common-sense analysis of your day will highlight areas that waste your time. Do some basic calculations to understand the value of your time and identify areas that are less productive than others.

Use Pomodoro– A winking-reference to tomato-shaped kitchen timers, the Pomodoro technique involves setting a 25-minute timer for a specific task that needs your attention. Follow this up with a 5-minute break and then move onto the same or another task for a further 25 minutes. After which start adding goals for each 25-minute time slot and complete your entire day. The notion here is to harness the power of clear goals and time-constraints to focus concentration, together with the understanding that spurts of work and rest allow the mind to be its most productive. Leverage the time-log and analysis insights to focus your efforts.

Apply the 80/20 rule – On average 20% of your efforts will provide you with 80% of your results. Therefore, you should look at adding more time each week to that 20% category. This will require some work: make the effort to record and frankly assess your activities, then use the insights you obtain to focus your energies on those activities that produce the best results.

Delegate but don’t abdicate – Letting go of the reins can be difficult, but it’s essential to leverage the work of others. You should rely on your team to help you get work done. But whatever work you offer your employees, they should be trained to do.

About the Author:

Luke Richbourg has more than two decades of experience as an international corporate and finance attorney, including work in structured, bank, and cross-border finance. As a former associate at Simpson Thatcher and a partner at Mayer Brown, he has represented banks, borrowers, investors & family offices, and private equity sponsors, frequently in emerging markets. You can contact Luke Richbourg on his twitter page.

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