Time is money, as the old saying goes. That’s why learning how to manage your time goes a long way toward ensuring that you achieve the goals you have set for yourself and your organization. Keep reading to discover three essential time management skills every business owner should master.
Priorities are the cornerstone of time management. If you don’t figure out what you want to achieve, you’ll allocate your time aimlessly and your progress will be haphazard at best.
Ask yourself what do you want to prioritize. It may be a specific project, a pressing issue, or a long-term goal. Whatever the answer, once you have figured out what your priorities are, adjust the time you dedicate to each task accordingly.
A popular metaphor can prove useful to help you prioritize your tasks. Think of your time as a mason jar. Small things you can delegate are sand, things that require more effort but are not mission-critical are pebbles, and your absolute priorities are rocks.
If you fill the jar with pebbles and sand, you’ll never be able to fit the rocks inside the jar. The best strategy consists in putting the rocks (the tasks critical to your success) first and then finding space between them to fit the pebbles and the sand.
Delegation is another of the keys to dramatically improve the way you manage your time. This may be hard for small business owners who are used to manage every aspect of their organization, but it’s well worth the effort. Consider these guidelines when you delegate a task:
- Play to the strengths of your employees. If someone else is particularly qualified for a task, delegate it to them.
- Communicate clearly. Provide any necessary instructions and make sure that the goals, time frames, and responsibilities are well defined.
- Check often. While being overbearing can be counterproductive, checking on the progress of the task at regular, agreed-upon intervals is a good idea.
Learn to Say “No”
Although it may seem counterintuitive, learning to say “no” can open up many possibilities that allow you to manage your time in a way that makes sense for you. Saying “yes” all the time and taking on more than you can handle only leads to burnout and dissatisfaction. If you find it difficult to say “no” to work requests, use these tips:
- Identify what’s important for you. You must delimit what you want to protect when you say “no.” It can be your family, your time, or the quality of your work.
- You are saying “no” to the request, not to the person. Remember this, and make sure the other person understands it as well.
- Practice. Imagine situations where you have to say “no” and articulate your reasons. Under stress, we rely on familiar behavior, so practicing will make it easier for you to say “no”.