Updated: Feb 1
35 practical ways to get some time back as a busy business owner:
1. Create a Plan
Daily, weekly and monthly. This sounds alot but is a massive help to manage your time to the max. Your daily list should take no more than 5 minutes and will reconcile the previous days tasks. Take 15 minutes on Monday morning to plan your weekly tasks. The first Monday of each month take 30 minutes to plan your monthly tasks Decide when and how you’ll accomplish each item on your daily list – will you need help, supplies, software etc...
2. Prioritise by urgency and Importance
One colum for urgent and one column for important. Then put a number beside each so you know what order to do them in. You’ll need to get to those projects that have urgent deadlines, so leave the ones that are due next week for later - add them to your weekly/monthly plan.
3. Break Down large tasks
If your list includes some overwhelming items, break them down into smaller, more manageable tasks. You can use task management software such as Asana or Monday.
4. Track your time
In order to better understand how you really spend your time, note everything you do and how long it takes. Include breaks, email, social media and everything else, so that you’ll find out what your biggest time wasters are. This in itself is a huge time saver, so be honest.
5. Set deadlines
Set a deadline for yourself on your task and if possible tell others about it so they can help hold you accountable.
6. Keep one eye on the clock
You don’t want to constantly obsess about time, but you also don’t want to let the day get away from you because you weren’t paying attention. Stay on track.
7. Set reminders
If you have a deadline, interview or meeting coming up, set a reminder on your phone.email platform that will go off shortly before.
8. Schedule Time for email and social media
Email and social media can be big time wasters. Don’t respond to every email as it comes in and don’t leave Facebook or Twitter open all day. Instead, schedule a short block or two throughout the day to check and reply to emails.
9. Schedule breaks
Everyone needs to take breaks throughout the day, even just a breather to refresh your brain and energy.
10. Use a Central social media management system
Number 10 is our top tip for managing your social media. If you use social media for marketing purposes, you likely have more than one account. Using a central dashboard can help you avoid going back and forth between sites and even allows you to schedule posts. The hours saved are startling when you add them up and minimises the distractions social media can bring.
11. Avoid distractions
There are a number of other distractions that can cause you to waste time throughout the day. If you work at home, turn off the TV until you finish work.
12. Stick to one task at a time
Multi-tasking can sound like a time saver, but it isn’t. Focus on one task, complete it to where you need it to be and then move on.
13. Batch tasks
It can be helpful to lump similar tasks into one. For example, make all your phone calls for the day back-to-back. Emails twice a day etc..
14. Focus on results
Ask yourself how each item will impact your business and focus on results, no matter how small and tick it off your list.
15. Don’t sweat the small stuff
If something doesn’t have a big impact on your business, don’t stress about it. Perfectionism can be a big time waster.
16. Use email filters and archives
Use email filters and archives so that you don’t spend hours looking for a particular message. Your email program should have easy tools to keep all your communications organised.
17. Limit meetings
Meetings can turn into time wasters if they go on too long or happen too frequently. Accept and schedule only essential meetings. Even better use Zoom or similar.
18. Hire a virtual assistant
Virtual assistants can help you with mundane daily tasks like email, bookkeeping, scheduling and research. Consider getting yourself some help if you need it.
19. Automate Payroll/HR
Rather than manually tracking hours and expenses, invest in a system that will do all the work for you. We love Breathe HR and you can get a free 14 day trial here
Your hours are then easily exported to your accountant.
20. Take notes
Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down notes and ideas or use an app so you don’t spend time trying to think of them later.
There are so many time saving and organisational apps and services available. Source tools that save time relevant to your business.
Ask your team to take on tasks that you don’t have time for.
23. Use accounting software
Even better - get an accountant that provides it free of charge in the monthly package - like we do, so you can access your financial information in real time 24/7.
24. Keep an organised workspace
Keep a clear desk and filing tray for any stray paper. Even better go paperless and use digital folders.
25. Back up your files
Whether by external hard drive, hard copies or online backup, create backups of all your important files in case of a computer meltdown.
26. Keep templates
Don’t spend time writing the same paragraphs over and over again when you could have a general template saved. Just go in and make a few updates and personalise each time you use it instead of starting from scratch.
27. Use shortcuts and desktop folders
Use keyboard, bookmarks and browser shortcuts and keep all your commonly used programs in an easily accessible location on your desktop.
28. Automate Expenses/payments
Make use of automatic bill pay services whenever possible to avoid late payments and time spent actually paying bills each month. Send invoices automatically and get paid on the fly. Xero is perfect for this and integrates with your bank account and accountant for the ultimate time saver service.
29. Learn to say No
Don’t take on tasks just because someone asks you to or sign up a new customers if they aren't right for you.
30. Make the most of down time
Time spent in waiting rooms, on the train or waiting for the kettle to boil could be used to update your calendar, write notes or accomplish other simple tasks.
31. Clean up old files
Get in the habit of deleting old files to free up space and make it easy to navigate.
32. Use mobile apps
There are mobile productivity apps, mobile calendar apps, mobile list apps – all of which can help you accomplish tasks and save time while not in front of a computer.
33. Leave space for the unexpected
Things you didn’t plan for will come up throughout the day. Take this into account when making your to-do list.
34. Have quiet/golden hours
If you work in an office, put a “do not disturb” sign on your door while you’re working on an important project. If you work from home, silence your phone for that time and close emails. If distractions come up when you’re in the zone, you can lose your concentration and end up spending way more time than necessary. It takes longer to get back into the zone again then.
Outsource essential elements such as HR and accountancy. Nobody wants to do inputting in their spare time. Here's a useful article that could help further with this.