I used to struggle with time management, particularly in the early days of my businesses. In just 8 months, my business SaleHoo grew to 10,000 members. Not long after, we used this momentum to launch a second business, Affilorama, and then a parent company, Doubledot Media. Amidst all of this, our company was expanding its team and my family was also expanding with the arrival of my daughter. As demands for my time increased dramatically on both ends of the spectrum — personal and professional — I was forced to reassess the effectiveness of my time-management strategies and come up with better ones.
Here are four easy-to-apply strategies that I find indispensable to organizing my time as a father, husband and business owner.
1. Enlist the help of software
Time management software can help increase productivity by providing a central location for all your projects. ClockingIT is a fantastic free option for managing your projects, setting deadlines and tracking time spent on each project or task. Logging your day will help you identify tasks that are taking up too much of your time and adjust accordingly.
2. Recognize the limits of email
Emails arrive chronologically, which is a very unproductive organization method that doesn’t consider urgency. Instead of referring to an original email for instructions, which wastes time and increases the likelihood that you’ll overlook an important detail, pull assignments out of emails and add them to your task list. This way, you can organize things by priority and use your time more effectively.
3. Schedule mindfully
I have saved a lot of time by creating a schedule where I spend very little time “regrouping.” Meetings and team projects should be scheduled first thing in the morning or straight after lunch, rather than mid-morning or late afternoon. This minimizes the time spent stopping and resuming a task. Valuable minutes are lost when you have to bring everyone back to the project (mentally and physically) and regain focus. When possible, complete meetings and projects in one sitting.
4. Allow yourself to redistribute responsibilities
This is one of the glorious things about being the business owner. Within reason, you have the power to look at your task list and delegate. Part of managing your time is recognizing that you have a limited amount of it.
One of the greatest challenges for many business owners is trust. The same way I struggle to hand my daughter over to a babysitter — even if I know that person is incredibly capable and loving — business owners struggle to hand over responsibility, even to their hand-picked team. One of the greatest time management strategies I’ve ever learned is to give myself permission to hand over the tasks that aren’t essential to my position as CEO. When you feel stressed, make a mental note that you need to remove one of your responsibilities and transfer it to someone else.
I’ll be the first to say my time management is a work-in-progress. No one is perfect. But if you struggle with managing your time as a business owner, these tips will get you closer to perfection than you are now.