Running a small business has its own set of challenges, and doing it all on your own adds to that list. You need a rack for all the hats you have to wear. There’s never enough time in the day, and your resources are limited.
That said, “solopreneurs” can be successful – it just takes a little more hard work and organization. Once your business broadens and profits improve, you can bring on some staff and breathe a little easier.
Until then, utilize time management tips to help you make it through the day:
1. Prioritize Your Day
Rather than just create a daily to-do list, prioritize your list to get the most important items accomplished first. This involves breaking down your projects into three categories: things that must get done, projects that would be great to complete, and lower-priority items that can be pushed to the next day, if needed. This way, you’ll be more focused on the important stuff.
2. Analyze Your Work Habits
If you’re an early riser, get the more difficult, time-consuming projects out of the way first. Then you can get on with minor chores, such as phone calls and business errands, as the day proceeds. But if you typically don’t hit your stride until after lunch, consider checking your emails in the morning and save the afternoon for the heavy lifting.
3. Manage Interruptions
This is a biggie. First off, eliminate as many interruptions as you can. Spam emails and nuisance phone calls top the list. Furthermore, if the phone rings while you’re in the middle of something, let your voicemail pick up. Unless it’s a pressing issue, it can wait until you’ve finished what you’re doing. Also, email checks should be limited to preset times during the day.
4. Separate Business From Pleasure
This is especially true if your business is Internet-based. If you’re chatting with a friend online while you’re supposed to be working, then you’re just spinning your wheels. Also, leave the entertainment web pages alone until your work is done. It’s a tough habit to break, since most of this stuff is just a few clicks away. However, with a little discipline, you will find yourself to be more productive.
5. Schedule Breaks
Breaks are an important part of your work day. A workaholic solopreneur is headed straight for job burnout. Consider scheduling both a quick morning and afternoon break, in addition to a lunch break. This should keep you on track throughout the entire day. Granted, it might not be possible every single day, but it’s a good goal to have. And by no means should you work when you’re fatigued. Your productivity will slump, and this is precious time wasted. Consider getting more sleep and explore healthy snack ideas to boost your energy.
6. Consolidate Errands
Whether business or personal, consolidating your errands is a great way to save time, and you’ll save on gas as well. If an errand pops up unexpectedly, think of anything else you can take care of while you’re out driving. Bundling trips to the grocery store, dry cleaner, and bank, for example, will free up your time.
7. Allow for Down Time
No matter how frantic your life gets as a solopreneur, always make time for yourself. Even if it’s a quick 30 minutes of watching TV or listening to music, this will help you stay focused and on the right track when you need to be. And you don’t have to save it all for the end of the day either. If you’ve already gotten a lot done and it’s only 2pm, take 20 minutes for yourself so you can jump back in and finish the day productively.
It’s vital to make the most of every minute of your work day to effectively manage a business on your own. Time can be your biggest enemy in the beginning, especially if you’re going solo. If you’ve had a day where you just didn’t get enough done, analyze it, identify the problem, and put measures in place so it won’t happen again.
What other time management tips can you think of for solopreneurs?
David Bakke has an online reselling business and shares his tips on Money Crashers Personal Finance, a blog that covers topics like money management strategies, getting started in entrepreneurship, and finding the best small business credit cards.
My favorite is to separate work and personal time. I use two separate browsers – work is in Chrome, personal is in Firefox. I rarely see distracting personal stuff when I’m working, and work doesn’t invade my fun time. I also use separate email addresses so I don’t have to be thinking about work when I’m having fun.