For business leaders, prioritisation and time management is absolutely essential.
80% of business leaders in small businesses say they aren’t finding enough time to work on business strategy and management. Even in large businesses, seemingly endless meetings, emails and chats can feel overwhelming.
So how do you beat the crunch and add hours back into your day? It’s all about prioritising what you can and using time management techniques to maximise your time.
One person, several hats
A key issue for small business leaders is having to cover multiple roles – some may be trying to fill as many as 6 different roles at one time!
There are lots of services that can help here. Many business leaders may struggle to meet the expense of, say, automated accounting software, but when you add up the time it’s costing you to keep your business accounts up to scratch yourself, the value is clear.
If you’re having to juggle multiple roles, look into automated services to help, and take into account the new business you could be bringing in with the time saved to properly calculate their value.
80/20 – the Pareto principle
The Pareto principle is a concept from economics that can be a really helpful way to think about prioritising your time as a business leader.
The principle suggests that, within a system, 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes. What this means, for example, is that you’ll often find that 80% of your business growth comes from 20% of your activities. Or, on the other hand, that 20% of your customer base may be taking up 80% of your time!
Use this principle to try and identify the key areas in your working life that produce the outsize results. If they’re negative, try and cut them out. And if they’re positive, those are the activities you should be prioritising!
Use risk management principles for efficient prioritisation
By using risk management principles to prioritise your tasks, you can get an accurate and clear picture of what’s most important. The key with risk management is to be systematic and structured – always take the same approach.
You’ll find what works best for you and your business needs here, but as a starting point, begin by asking yourself what the consequences are of not doing each task you’re trying to prioritise, and what the value of doing it will be. You should also try and think about any unexpected risks, as well.
Then, you can look over this risk assessment and begin to manage the risks. Are there any tasks that you can deprioritise because the consequences are low risk, or unimportant? Are there risks that you can manage out in other ways? Which tasks have the highest value?
By looking at risk management in this way, you’ll find tasks you can safely deprioritise, as well as identifying the key tasks that will drive growth in your business.
Look to the Kaizen system to analyse processes
TheKaizen system is inspired by the Japanese car manufacturer Toyota’s approach to its vehicle assembly line. It translates as “change for the better” or “continuous improvement”, and means they are always looking to improve processes by reducing waste and boosting efficiency.
You can apply this to time management within your business by taking the time to analyse your processes. Could you speed up certain tasks, or even automate them entirely? Don’t keep doing things the way you’ve done simply because that’s what you know – always look to innovate and improve.
Time Management Tips & Tricks
Make use of online tools
There are lots of online tools that can help you with task automation, business communication, admin, and time tracking. Find what works for your business and use it!
Prioritise ruthlessly – know when to say no
Knowing when to say no is a key skill for any business leader. You simply don’t have the time to do everything!
Make time to take stock
As a business leader, it’s vital to be making time to analyse how your business is working. If you don’t, you’ll simply be reacting, not planning proactively.
Agile principles like sprints and time tracking can help you with your time management, but you also need to be able to pivot quickly and react to new ideas – don’t get too stuck focusing on one plan.
Focus on behaviour
Prioritisation and time management can often be solved using behavioural change. For example, developing habits like taking 15 minutes each morning to prioritise your to-do list.
Invest in your employees
As a business leader, it’s vital to give your employees the skills and tools they need to thrive. The running joke from employees is “I don’t have time to go on a time management course” – don’t let this be your business!