Growing up, my mom used to always quip that there were never enough hours in the day. I swear I didn’t fully grasp what she meant until I started running my own business! Between all the tasks on my to-do list, serving my clients well, and dreaming big for the future, it often feels like I’m stretching myself in a million directions at once. Which is why I’ve had to discipline myself to cultivate a sense of time management over the years, if only for my sanity! For as much as we talk about “time management” within the small business community, I think it’s important to understand this concept is so much more than self-discipline or a mindset. There are tangible tools and practical steps you can take to incorporate more mindfulness and a better use of your day into your workflow!
Prioritize what’s important
Before you dive into revamping your entire workflow around this concept of time management, I’ve found it’s important to start with a clear understanding of what’s on your plate. Make a list of all the tasks, commitments, and projects you want to accomplish. I like to do this at the end of every business day so I can start the next day with a clear overview of what I need to focus on. From there, I highlight the top three items on my agenda that I have to accomplish that day. Those take my full attention first thing in the morning, and if I’m able to cross those off my list then I’ll start moving on down to secondary tasks. This gives me the freedom to invest all my energy into what’s most important right off the bat, then I can celebrate accomplishing any other “extra” tasks! For me, this creates a momentum that’s inspiring and propels me forward throughout the day.
Time Block Your Schedule
If you’ve been around these parts for a while, then you know time blocking is a method that I absolutely swear by! I give each hour of my workday a specific task and I focus solely on that task during that allotted timeframe. This keeps me from spending hours in my inbox or getting caught up on one client project that eats away my entire afternoon. Plus, having a consistent schedule for my workday allows me to plan accordingly and know what’s next. Rather than floating from task to task, I know that I’ll spend 30 minutes answering emails, one hour working on client design projects, 15 minutes brainstorming future content ideas, etc. If you haven’t tried time blocking before, I highly recommend it!
But all the time blocking in the world won’t help you manage your time wisely if you’re constantly distracted by new email notifications, your Instagram account, or those texts your BFF keeps sending you during your workday. I taught myself early on in my career that notifications and incessant text alerts would rob me of not only precious time, but also the ability to do my work well. Which is why I’ve permanently turned off all email and app notifications on my phone, I mute any desktop alerts, and I keep tablets and phones out of reach. And I’m always searching for tools that can help me be more present in my work day after day.
I recently partnered with the incredible teams at Create + Cultivate and Bamboo to try out the Bamboo Folio, a brilliant tool that enables you to disconnect from your iPad or smartphone during your day-to-day and focus directly on what’s in front of you. The Bamboo Folio uses a regular pad of paper and its accompanying smartpen that allows you to turn notes, drawings, and ideas into digital files with the push of a button. This smartpad connects to your tablet or phone and enables you to have digital copies of all notes you took during a meeting, sketches you drew out for a client, and more!
Personally, I take a lot of notes during client calls and meetings, and I’ve always wished I had an easier way to transcribe my pen and paper notes to my computer so I can share those notes easily with clients. But nobody wants a scanned copy of my awful handwriting, and I don’t feel like copying over notes word-for-word is the best use of my time! Plus, with the Wacom Inkspace app, I can convert my handwritten notes to text – also saving me time! So coming across a tool like the Bamboo Folio feels like such a great way to be fully present with my clients (sans-screens!), take all the notes my little heart desires, and still be able to copy these over to my computer through a third-party app like Evernote with the push of a button. Because regardless of whatever is in front of me, I want to be fully present in that task.
What are your go-to methods for managing time wisely within your small business? I’d love to know! Sound off in the comments below.
This post was kindly sponsored by Wacom and Create + Cultivate but, as always, I only recommend products I’ve tried personally and stand behind wholeheartedly.