As a business owner, you have a lot on your plate. And sometimes it can feel like you’re constantly working to manage every aspect of your business to make sure it’s running smoothly. This can be dangerous for your mental health. One study found that 70% of people say that a heavy workload and poor work/life balance is their biggest cause of stress.
6 Established Time Management Methods
Because of this, it’s vital to find ways to manage your time effectively so that work takes up less of your life and takes less effort to complete. Luckily, there are a number of established time management methods that can help you to streamline your working life and get more out of each day.
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The Important-Urgent Matrix
On average, business owners spend 6.8 hours a week on low-value activities. You can spend this time a lot more wisely if you identify which tasks are essential and which are wasting your time — which is where the matrix comes in.
Create a 4 by 4 grid, labeling the columns as “important” and “not important” and the rows as ‘urgent’ and ‘not urgent.’ Then, fill in the grid with all your work tasks according to whether they’re urgent, important, both, or neither.
You’ll end up with a clear representation of the most essential tasks - those in the important, urgent box are your top priority. What’s more, you’ll know to leave the unimportant, non-urgent tasks for last, or even better, delegate them to your employees (or if you don’t have the staff to spare, hire a freelancer to do this work for you).
Time blocking is a basic but highly efficient method for effective time management. When planning your weekly or daily schedule, it can be worthwhile to block out whole chunks of time to one particular task to make sure it gets done.
Dedicating your time in this way helps to filter out distractions and interruptions by ensuring your focus is on the task at hand and can help to establish predictability for your workdays to make them feel more manageable.
A kanban board is a useful visual representation of the tasks you need to complete. A kanban consists of a number of columns showing the different steps in the process of completing tasks - generally To Do, In Progress, In Review (if applicable) and Completed.
As you work on tasks, you can move them to the respective column, giving you a clear idea of how each task is progressing and what you still need to do. A kanban board can be a physical whiteboard or corkboard with the tasks on sticky notes, or there are also a number of electronic kanban board apps if you prefer to keep things online.
Like kanban boards, bullet journals help to give you a visual representation of your workload and make it more manageable. Bullet journals use specific frameworks and codes to quickly and simply log tasks according to their priority and importance, with space to give more context to each one if needed.
As well as helping you stay organized, regularly journaling helps to build a habit of keeping track of your work, helping to make work seem more manageable, and giving you more confidence in taking it on.
The Pomodoro Technique
This technique works on the principle of splitting your work up into smaller, more manageable chunks. The idea is to set a timer for 25 minutes, then work on one task for the duration, after which you’ll take a 5-minute break before continuing. This makes it a lot easier to hold your concentration than constantly working over longer stretches of time, and the timer ticking down can motivate you to work faster to beat the countdown.
This is the principle that 80% of your business’ value comes from 20% of the work you do. Think of which activities actually have the most impact on your business’ success in the long run as opposed to just the day-to-day operation, and make these your priority.
It’s estimated that entrepreneurs and small business owners spend 68% of their time working “in” their business rather than “on” it — tackling day-to-day tasks rather than long-term planning and strategies. To give your business an edge, identify the 20% of work that will help your business to truly grow and succeed, and leave as much of the 80% as possible to your employees.