As the old adage goes, time is money, and for small business owners, time is literally valuable. In fact, 38 percent of small business owners say time is their most valuable business asset. Every extra moment entrepreneurs can save means more productivity and less stress. Here are five ways that busy business owners can free up more time to spend on business and personal priorities.
Create a Time Budget
One way to improve your time use is to create a time budget similar to a financial budget. As mentioned in the Harvard Business Review, each week has 168 hours which you can allocate to various activities. For instance, if you subtract 56 hours for sleep, 40 hours for work and another 40 hours for travel, errands and family time, you would have 32 hours left. Your exact numbers will vary depending on the specifics of your situation, but this gives you an idea how to go about starting a time budget. To more efficiently optimize your work hours, you can break down time you spend at work into specific categories, such as answering email, attending meetings and doing paperwork. To help organize your time budget, download a time-tracking app.
Automate Your Calendar Scheduling
To better support your time budget, use a time management strategy like an automated calendar scheduling app on your smartphone or PC. Ideally, a calendar app like Google Calendar and Sunrise should integrate with your email so you can automatically add appointments from email invitations you send and receive. Many calendar apps can now be controlled by voice commands, making it easy to stay on track while on the go.
Minimize Time Answering Email and Social Media
Email and social media are two of the biggest time wasters at work. AnOfficeTime survey reports that 33 percent of people spend one to two hours a day answering email and 75 percent spend up to two hours a day on social media. “The 4-Hour Workweek” recommends consolidating your email use by setting aside two designated time periods per day for answering your inbox and not spending other time on email. A similar strategy can help you reduce time spent on social media. You can further reduce time spent on email by using tools such as filters and tags to automatically file and prioritize your email. For social media, consider using an app like Hootsuite to manage multiple accounts from a single dashboard.
Reduce Time Spent on Meetings
Meetings are another major time waster at work. OfficeTime’s research found that seven out of 10 people spend up to two hours a day in meetings. One way to reduce meeting time is to simply avoid unnecessary meetings. When meetings are necessary, try implementing a few basic principles, the European Business Review suggests. First, identify who’s running the meeting and who needs to be involved, so that people who don’t need to attend don’t have their time wasted and don’t waste other attendees’ time. Second, focus on the purpose of the meeting. Third, define the process for your meeting, determining, for example, whether or not debate is necessary. Finally, stay focused on the desired outcome of the meeting.
Automate Your Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping for accounting and taxes can also consume a significant amount of time. Adopting a cloud-based accounting solution such as Sage 50 can reduce your bookkeeping time by letting you manage your books from your mobile device and integrate your financial records with software apps for other business processes. For instance, you can use apps to automatically send customer transaction and business expense transaction data to your accounting app, reducing time spent on manual data entry.
With the number of time-saving solutions available, business owners can gain back valuable hours in their day to focus on their top priorities. Get back to what matters most to your business with these easily implemented solutions.