Tick tock, tick tock: seven time management tips
Updated: Apr 16
Finding enough time in the day is challenging enough, but when you add running a business into the mix, it really ups the ante!
Small-business owners tend to wear many hats … so it’s important to plan your time to ensure that all the hats get the attention they need.
Here are my seven tips to help you get more done in your available time …
1. Find your “productivity zone”
Ok, first you need to work out what time you’re most productive; determine if you are:
The early bird who is most productive first thing when your mind is fresh and the phones haven’t started ringing yet?
Most productive mid-day when your momentum is up and going?
A night owl who is most productive later in the day after your ideas have had time to settle?
Once you know where you fit, you’ll be able to plan your most important work at that particular time of day.
2. Plan your work
One of the things I do without fail every afternoon is write my to-do list for the following day. That way I have everything organised before I finish for the day, and it allows me to go into my evening with a clear head.
You can do this in a diary or on a piece of paper, or if you’re serious about managing your time, try using a task management system like Asana.
3. Prioritise according to urgency/ importance
You can use something like ‘Covey’s time management matrix’ or “The Eisenhower Matrix” to do this. These systems have you split your list into urgent / not urgent and important / not important. Or you can just mark the three most important tasks on your to-do list and then plan to do them during your ‘productivity zone’.
4. Delegate if you can
If you have staff to assign some tasks to, the Covey or Eisenhower systems will help you decide what you can delegate. If you don’t currently have staff it will allow you to see what tasks you usually do that don’t require your expertise.
5. Pick a system and commit to it
There are so many time management and productivity systems out there and it doesn’t matter what system you choose, only that it’s something that works for you. If you struggle to find an approach that you can fully commit to, try combining a few different ones to create the perfect time management and productivity tool for you.
For example, I use Asana for all my project planning, client work and my tasks but I still write a hard copy to-do list every afternoon for the next day … that’s what works best for me!
6. Minimise distractions
Lots of things can distract us from our priorities. Most of them these days tend to be digital so here are some things you can do to help reduce them:
Control your notifications – on your laptop, tablet, phone and watch
Create email filters and rules so that every email you receive doesn’t hit your inbox
Use do not disturb if you really need to
Take regular breaks and try a change of scenery if necessary
7. Track your time
Tracking your time will make you more aware of where your minutes go every day. But even more importantly, tracking your time allows you to identify what is misusing, or wasting your time; And once you know that, you can make changes to reduce it in future.
It’s not always easy to make changes, but, if you identify your productivity zone, plan and prioritise your tasks, (and delegate if you can) you’ll have more time to dedicate to other things … think family, friends, exercise and even sleep! How good would that be?
After decades working in mining, aviation and oil & gas, Marie founded Empress of Order, a virtual assistant service, in 2018 and quickly became fully booked. With a background in operations and safety, focussing on processes, systems and procedures, Marie now supports busy business owners and helps them bring order to their lives!
She’s certified by the VA Institute and was named in the Inside Small Business Top 50 Business Leaders in 2020.
Marie facilitates a coworking day each month in her hometown of Perth, where business owners get together to work and build connections. This year Marie expanded her empire with the purchase of The Digital Mums Directory, an online membership and directory for female digital experts in Australia, with two biz friends.
Marie lives in the beautiful Perth Hills with her husband Simon and fur-babies. She’s can’t function without her morning coffee and loves a glass of bubbles in the evening.