The average entrepreneur is working 7.7 more hours per week than they would like to. In fact, 85% of business owners are working over 40 hours a week according to a recent survey by The Alternative Board.
Even though business owners are great at making the most of limited resources, they still want more. If they were able to free up time in their schedules, business owners would see this freed up time to dedicate to marketing, strategic planning and creating new business opportunities for their companies.
What can business do to reallocate their time?
Here are three time management tips that can help:
The survey found that 76% of business owners rate their time management skills as above average. And the same amount of people stated they would like to reduce the number of tasks that they don’t feel that they need to be doing. It is understandable, most entrepreneurs like being in control. It’s probably one of the reasons they decided to go into business for themselves in the first place. So while taking ownership is a valuable trait, it can also lead to a pitfall.
According to Jo Clarkson, TAB UK Operations Director, the biggest mistake start-up owners make is refusing to let go of control. A great way around this setback would be to plan your end game and visualize the journey ahead. Let’s say you are clear that the business should provide enough wealth for your family to achieve financial independence in 5 years and have the freedom to take a two-week vacation every summer; then you have better get over that hurdle and delegate!
Plan and then Prioritize
Forty percent of business owners recognize they don’t have a proper annual operating plan – or no plan at all – which negatively impacts productivity. Not knowing what is urgent and what is not leads to treating everything as an emergency. Jesse Viola, President of APM Shipping and TAB Member, noticed he was spending much of his time on the phone every morning putting out fires. When he brought this to the board’s attention, his fellow business owners suggested he hold off all his calls until 11 am each day. It has helped him focus on bigger picture items that need to be done first. The fires can be addressed next with more motivation and better attention to the cash flow priority.
Rethink Your Inbox Strategy
The top item business owners are losing time on is their inbox. According to the survey, business owners spend almost 31% of their time on email (more than calls, 14%). The second item on the list was interaction with employees – almost 25% – and 21% interacting with customers.
Cheri Giglia, Managing Director of Supporting Strategies North Shore Lo, suggests setting up a to-be-processed folder in your mailbox. As you review your inbox, move any item that needs further action into that folder. You won’t waste time reading emails multiple times and can access them later avoiding clutter or searching through your inbox.
HP Founders are known for their time management skills. The key to their approach was to touch a piece of paper only once. The approach also applies to email. Allocate a time of your day to read email, and when possible, respond. If the item requires further action, move to the to-be-processed folder.
What would you do with more time in your day?
Surveyed business owners said they would spend time on marketing (32%) strategic planning (24%) product/ service development (15%) and partnerships (11%) all of which can push their business forward and boost profitability. Improving time management does not only free time to dedicate to planning and strategy, but it also leaves more time for family, friends and personal pursuits.
If you feel your time management skills have room for improvement, learn how working with a group of fellow business owners can help. Get in touch with a local board for proven time management skills that can propel your business forward.