Ask SCORE: Manage Your Time With Task Management
All of us, myself included, wish we had more time to do all the things we’re expected to do — or, probably better said — all the things that we expect ourselves to do.
Small business owners are no exception to that. The greatest thing that nearly all small business owners say they want more of is time. With there being only 24 hours in a day, it pays for entrepreneurs to learn how to wisely manage their time.
Not surprisingly, one of the most effective time management tools is also the simplest — the basic “to-do” list. I’m sure we’ve all used the simple process of jotting down all of the things that need to get done, all on one sheet of paper, and then setting off to do them one at a time, crossing out each item as it is completed. This is a basic time manager that any small business owner can utilize.
As a next step in the system, to make sure that tasks are worked on in a planned system — according to importance — one can also number or check the ones that are the highest priority “must-do” items and then work on them in numerical order.
As tasks are completed, they can be crossed off. This can help keep the focus on getting tasks done one at a time, and also provide a sense of accomplishment. To add a technology flavor to tracking tasks, an Internet website, TimeTiger.com, provides a Web-based to-do list that helps a person monitor the project and nonproject activities.
Delegating more work can also help ease the time crunch. Many business owners accustomed to “doing it all” find delegating to be exceedingly difficult. But even a sole operator can pass off tasks to others, via outsourcing, for example, to free up personal time.
A truly savvy entrepreneur will periodically analyze how time is spent at the business — not just his own time, but also everyone’s. This can be done by dividing the day into small time blocks and recording what the members of the team are doing in each block.
By comparing this real use of time with the goals, expectations and mission priorities of the business, areas in need of attention can be spotted. When they do not align, there is a need to take action. And remember that growing, successful businesses don’t put things off. Even a simple “no” response to something on a to-do list can extinguish that item and let the entrepreneur move on.
A variety of technology solutions are also helping small businesses track and manage time. For example, Workarea.com is an Internet-based time tracking system that can provide billing information to the second. The system includes a time clock, time sheet, expense tracking, address book and the ability to access it all via cell phone or PDA.
For businesses with employees, the TimeClock Plus Small Business Edition at www.timeclockplus.com lets the user turn any PC into a time clock. Employees can sign in or out with the keyboard or mouse, and easily allocate hours and costs to specific jobs.
To learn more about time management issues facing your small business, contact SCORE, America’s free and confidential source of small business mentoring and coaching. SCORE is a nationwide nonprofit association of experienced business people who provide free, confidential business counseling to small business owners.
The Sandhills Chapter of SCORE is active in counseling, mentoring and presenting free business seminars. If you wish to speak to SCORE about your business, please register as a client by entering your information at www.edmisscore.org/0364, and one of our counselors will contact you.
In addition to counseling by appointment, the Sandhills chapter of SCORE has drop-in service, for those who have registered, from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays and Fridays at the Moore County Chamber of Commerce building on U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines. The phone number is (910) 692-3926.
More information on SCORE’s counseling activity can be found at the Sandhills SCORE website, www.sandhillsscore.org.
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