Between work-related chores and personal responsibilities, managing the day-to-day grind can be a major challenge for small business owners. Over eight in ten business owners work over 40 hours a week, a survey by The Alternative Board found. One in ten feel constantly overwhelmed by their workload. Nearly four in ten say poor time management is their biggest productivity challenge.
Adopting some better strategies for organizing your workflow can help you keep up with your daily responsibilities without getting burned out. Here are three ways to streamline your schedule to get more done with less stress.
Create a Time Budget
One proven strategy for more efficient time management is creating a time budget. There are 168 hours a week. Whatever percentage of time you spend on personal activities such as sleep, bathing and meals gets subtracted from this total, determining how much time you have available for work. You can then allocate the remaining time to prioritize your work-related tasks.
Time management author Laura Vanderkam provides a time budgeting spreadsheet you can use to do a time makeover. You can also use calendar tools and apps on a device such as an iPhone 8 Plus to create a time budget plan and set up automated notifications to remind you when it’s time to do priority tasks. The 30/30 app for the iPhone lets you set up a list of tasks and allocate a set amount of time for each.
Limit Email and Texting Time
One item it’s important to include in your time budget is limiting how much time you spend answering emails and texts. The average office worker spends 2.5 hours a day answering email, amounting to over a third of a work day, Forbes reports. Much of this time is wasted, with 62 percent of emails being unimportant items that could be handled in bulk.
Time management author Tim Ferriss recommends getting email management under control by setting aside two blocks of time per day to answer email. Using filters to automatically block spam, file emails into folders and flag important items can also save you time. For instance, you can create a filter to automatically flag emails from a particular correspondent as urgent, and then set up your inbox to list urgent emails on top.
Automate Your Workflow
Another way to save time while increasing your productivity is by using software apps to automate routine tasks. Many time-consuming business functions involve repetitive tasks that could be handled by software. For example, many bookkeeping hours are spent copying data between accounting software and payment transactions, expense reports, payroll, taxes and so on. Much of this data entry can be avoided by syncing a cloud-based accounting software app such as QuickBooks Online with data from software that handles other financial-related areas of your business.
There are also apps specifically designed to help you automate customized workflows. For instance, Zapier allows you to define “trigger” events that automatically cause predefined tasks to be performed. An example would be setting up an automated system so that when you receive a Gmail with an attachment, the attachment gets automatically copied into Dropbox and you receive a notification on Facebook.
Creating a time budget, managing email and texting time and automating common tasks are three simple but powerful ways to streamline your daily routine. Implementing these strategies can help you get more done in less time, freeing you up to spend more time on priority business and personal tasks.