Time Management Tips for Small Business Owners

DAVID FAČKO

10 min

·

February 22, 2024

Poor time management can undo your entire work week. And when you’re a small business owner, you can’t afford for that domino effect to take over.

Whether you double-booked yourself or forgot to add buffer time for a complex project, lacking time management strategies can wreak havoc on your business. 

Not to mention the strain it adds to your overall health and well-being. 

Thankfully, by following some time management best practices, you can set your small business — and yourself — up for success. 

Let’s take a closer look at ten effective time management tips you can start implementing right away. 

1. Use time management apps to get ahead

Get ahead with time management tools and task apps that can help you organize anything from timesheets to productivity workflows

Here are some examples …

If you’re a service provider, consider using a professional invoice maker to send invoices and estimates in seconds. You can also automate routine payments with recurring invoices and set up your own invoice templates

We’ll cover more on templates in a bit.

invoicing app

If you’re a creator, consider using text-to-speech software to make instructional videos or marketing materials. This saves you from recording and editing audio when making your videos. You can also easily update or change your video content without having to re-record.

If you’re a freelancer, consider using project management tools to set up efficient daily workflows and timeline overviews. You can also automate project reminders and other repetitive tasks so you can focus on what matters most.

But these are just a few examples. Head to G2 or Capterra to explore other tools related to your industry. 

Set aside ample time to review tools, set up free trials, and finalize your tech stack.

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2. Use templates, checklists, and overviews

Find or create your own “cheat sheets” to help you cut corners on routine tasks. 

Whether you’re a startup founder, sales rep, or marketer, these helpful docs can help you:

  • Remember key details about routine work that can easily slip through the cracks
  • Create a document repository for easy reference and internal training purposes
  • Create processes and systems for everything you do (more on this in tip #10)
  • Manage your to-do list more efficiently
  • Create a checks and balance system
  • Avoid overwhelm
  • Stay organized

For instance, if you’re a serial non-profit or startup founder, keep a non-profit business plan template and a startup business plan template handy to create compelling investment proposals.

non profit business plan

If you’re a sales rep, keep scripts, playbooks, and prospecting checklists on hand. 

Consider creating these yourself so you can tailor them to your specific approach. Simply use Google Docs, a note-taking tool, or create them using productivity apps.

Here’s an example …

Sales call checklist:

  • Sign on
  • Greet the prospect by their first name
  • Connect on a mutual value or personal story
  • Address their pain point
  • Provide an irresistible solution 
  • Ask for the sale
  • Set up a follow-up time 
  • Thank the lead for their time and end the call
  • Sign off

If you’re in marketing, create internal process overviews and campaign checklists for easy reference. 

For instance, consider making the following docs:

  • Summary of your current prospects
  • Internal operations summary 
  • Current client base overview
  • Weekly to-do list overview
  • Content writing checklists
  • Content editing checklists 
  • Campaign summary lists
  • Daily to-do list overview
  • Project lists

3. Organize your tasks by: Due first, most important, largest

Protect your valuable time and avoid burnout by implementing task prioritization. It’s tempting to want to tackle simple tasks first so you can build up the “mental energy” to take care of more challenging tasks. 

Unfortunately, this is typically one of the worst time management approaches, often leading to too much time dedicated to insignificant tasks.

That means less time for critical tasks. 

This is also one of the main culprits that leads to that domino effect we touched on earlier. Instead, start by finishing your most urgent tasks, then work your way down to less urgent to-dos.  

The most urgent tasks are the ones that are due first, take the longest to complete, and are the most important. Less urgent tasks are ones that are due last, take the shortest amount of time to complete, and are the least important.

Build in time to review upcoming deadlines over the next few weeks so you can organize your task prioritization list. Jot down each project name, how long it typically takes to complete, and the due date. For instance, if you have five content writing projects due next week …

You might organize them like this: 

  1. Whitepaper, 12 hours, due Monday
  2. Case study, 10 hours, due Tuesday
  3. Email series, 8 hours, due Wednesday
  4. Blog post, 6 hours, due Thursday
  5. Video script, 4 hours, due Friday

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4. Prioritize having a healthy work-life balance

Manage your stress levels and prevent burnout by creating a healthy balance between your personal time and your work time.

Doing so helps you show up to work energized, focused, and refreshed. 

It also helps build more meaning and purpose in your personal life. Instead of flooding your online calendar with tasks and deadlines, you’ll have spare time to do other things you enjoy.

Here are some practices to put into place to create a healthier work-life balance:

    • Have a clear start and end time at work — and stick to it.
    • Set an automated timer to keep yourself accountable for ending the day.
    • Schedule regular breaks throughout your workday to get fresh air, stretch, or take a mental pause.
    • Schedule time to do things you enjoy after work, like reading, meeting with a friend, or going for a long walk. 
    • Separate your personal and work communication channels don’t answer work calls when you’re on personal time or personal messages when you’re working. 
    • Take care of your mental, physical, and emotional health (i.e., start a mindfulness practice, eat well, exercise, and practice emotional intelligence).
    • Schedule vacation time and personal days every three to six months.

5. Work in time blocks

Dedicate specific time chunks throughout your work schedule to take care of the tasks on your prioritization list.

list of priorities

(source: todoist.com)

Use noise-cancellation headphones, remove distractions, and keep your head down when working during these time blocks. 

Commit to doing “deep work” for about 90 minutes, and then take a short break. Rinse and repeat as needed every day. 

You’ll also need to account for delays and anything else that can hinder project completion — like getting sick. To account for this, build in buffer time before and after each deadline. 

Monitor time block scheduling results every quarter and implement key lessons. 

For instance, you might notice that you work better in 60-minute intervals rather than 90. 

Or, you might realize that your buffer times are too short, and you need to add more wiggle room. 

By refining your time-blocking approach, you can work smarter and prevent missing deadlines.

6. Work during your peak productivity hours

Schedule your time blocks when you’re naturally most productive. 

Peak productivity is different for each person. 

For instance, you might work best between 5 am and 9 am. Or you might have the highest energy levels from 3 pm to 9 pm. 

Use these time limits to your advantage by working on your most critical tasks.

Encourage other people on your team to work during their high-energy hours, too.  

This is a strategic way to prevent burnout and encourage better team productivity.

Speaking of productivity …

Productivity tools

7. Hire a VA and outsource to contractors

Focus on tasks you specialize in and outsource the rest to a virtual assistant (VA) and contractors. 

If you’re a contractor, you can outsource to subcontractors. To expedite invoicing, be sure to check out the contractor invoice template.

As a small business owner, it’s important to transition out of the “engineering” role if you want to grow. 

Doing everything yourself holds you back from scaling your business to its fullest potential. 

It also threatens your work-life balance and keeps you time-poor. If you get sick or onboard a full book of clients, you’ll need support to prevent burnout.

But here’s the deal …

You don’t want to partner with anyone. You want people on your team who love what they do, have subject-matter expertise, and can help you reach your goals.

You also want team members who communicate regularly and respectfully and take their jobs seriously.  

It goes both ways, though. If you want fully committed and productive people working for you, you must do your part. 

That means: 

  • Looping them in on important project updates
  • Creating fair and honest contracts   
  • Being kind and communicative
  • Setting healthy standards
  • Providing resources

When you find great people, do your best to keep them. 

Team members who align effortlessly with your business take time to find, onboard, and train. To retain top talent, go above and beyond for them. 

For instance, consider options like … 

Paying them as soon as possible with early direct deposit, giving them access to meaningful work, and offering flexible schedules.  

It’s also important to check in regularly with your team members. 

Ask them how they feel about their workloads, if they have any specific tasks they’d enjoy working on, and if there’s anything else you can do to support them. 

You can also send out polls and surveys if you have a mid-sized team or want to offer people anonymity. 

8. Prep the week ahead every Friday (weekly agenda)

Get ahead of the week by prepping it the Friday before. 

Not only does this give you a sense of accomplishment, but it also helps you pinpoint any issues that could create delays.

Use your prioritization lists and time management apps to prep for the following week and create workflows. Set up automation where you can, too.

For inspiration, take a look at the best software for small businesses.

weekly to do list

Remember to build in buffer times and account for your time blocks and scheduled breaks. 

Check in with your team to make sure everyone has their task list ready. If you use a project management tool, use it to assign tasks to your team members and set up automated team workflows.

9. Prep the day ahead every evening (daily agenda)

Before you end your workday, review your deadlines for tomorrow and any other important to-dos. 

Use this information to organize the following workday. 

For instance, if your weekly calendar shows you have a project proposal due tomorrow, break down the steps you’ll take to complete it. Remember to refer to your docs repository for useful checklists, overviews, and templates. 

You might also consider organizing your daily tasks in a physical notebook so you can manually check them off as you finish. 

This can help you better focus on what’s in front of you so you don’t get lost (or distracted) in spreadsheets, tools, and apps.

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10. Create a system and process for everything

Systematize as much as you can in your business. 

Find and adopt shortcuts so you can focus your time on areas that matter most.

You might be surprised at how many tasks you can create a process for.

To get an idea …

Create an operations overview where you list everything you take care of on a daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. 

Here’s a simple template you can use:

Our daily operations include:

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  

Our weekly operations include:

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  

Our monthly operations include:

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  

Our annual operations include:

  1.  
  2.  
  3.  
  4.  

Next, consider your systemization options. 

Time management efficiency

What can you automate? What can you use a tool to do faster? What can you outsource? What can you create a workflow for? 

You might also consider meeting with an operations manager with experience in your niche to make the most of this tip. They can audit your current operations and suggest ways to create more efficient processes. 

Don’t forget to ask your team members for input, too. They may have process experience or see an opportunity you may have missed. 

Incorporate this feedback into your next training session. To streamline the process and keep everyone on the same page, consider investing in a small business LMS. That way, you can bring together all your training tools and materials in one convenient place. 

Wrap up

Efficiently managing your time is one of the most important commitments you can make to your small business. 

Having strong time management skills sets you, your business, and your team up for success. 

If you’re ready to work smarter, don’t forget to save and share this article with your team. Then, carve out time to implement the tips we’ve covered on this list.

Billdu: Making invoicing smooth, it is true

And if you’re looking for a better way to invoice, check out Billdu — the best-rated invoicing app. Try it for free todayHere’s to your success! 

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DAVID FAČKO

SEO Specialist at Billdu

David Fačko specializes in SEO and Content at Billdu, a highly-regarded invoicing software solution known for its efficiency in assisting freelancers and small businesses worldwide.

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