If there’s one thing most small business owners never have enough of (besides money), it’s time. With so many tasks needing to be done, it’s nearly impossible to get everything accomplished and have enough time for the other areas of your life. These business time savers should help you bring order to your day and more quality to your life.Order OnlineWhen you order your office supplies, equipment, furnishings, etc., online, not only can you save time, but often you can even save money. Online office supply stores like Staples.com and OfficeDepot.com often have great sales, and free shipping. Plus, you’ll save tons of time and gas money not running around town.Delivery ServicesDon’t even think about getting in a car and making a delivery yourself. Instead, open an account with a delivery service. They will pick up and deliver almost anything to almost anywhere. Once you reach a certain volume, you might want to consider hiring a “runner” and buying a gas sipper car for your delivery person to drive. You will have to run the numbers to seen when and if that makes sense. One other note about delivery services…check the regular places where you do business (i.e. dry cleaners, copy shop, restaurants, pharmacies, et al) to see if they offer pick up and delivery.Buy in BulkThere are many items that you can buy in bulk at warehouse stores like Sam’s and Costco that will save you time and money. Paper towels, toilet paper, copy paper, coffee, coffee filters…stock up and avoid multiple trips.Write Things DownI keep a “To Do / Daily Goals” list in a Word document on my computer desktop that I update every day before I shut down shop. I have it divided into daily tasks and weekly tasks. As I accomplish a task from my daily list, I just delete it. Same with the weekly section. I would recommend keeping some type of similar list somewhere (either on your computer, a Day-Timer, a hand-held computer, or just handwritten) and check it first thing in the morning, and as needed during the day. Before you leave for home, update your list so it will be ready for you first thing the next morning. I know, I know…some people just don’t like keeping lists. I used to be one of them. However, once I started, I found my productivity skyrocket! It was easier for me to focus on the tasks at hand, and I was less likely to become distracted. If you’ve never kept a to-do, I would strongly recommend you start doing so. Control Your DayDon’t let your time get away from you. There will always be distractions and emergencies, but if you manage your day by prioritizing and doing the most important things first, you can gain more control. (See the next point for the one exception to this rule.) Don’t allow yourself to be pulled from one thing to the other.Don’t ProcrastinateWhile we’re on the subject of prioritizing, let’s talk about procrastination. It’s so easy to put things off that we don’t want to do. Pretty soon, those things niggle at us until they become seemingly insurmountable. Procrastination begets procrastination. If you’re not careful, you could become known as someone who can’t get things done, or someone who doesn’t keep promises. Either is bad. Here’s the one thing I do and encourage others to do to beat procrastination: Do that which you don’t want to do most, first. You get it out of the way, you get to feel good about yourself, and you stop thinking of yourself as a procrastinator. Break it DownWhen you have a large task in front of you, the best thing you can do is to break it down into manageable steps. Accomplish the first step, move onto the next. Get the next step done, move on to the third. And so on. Soon it will be mission accomplished.Learn to DelegateOne of the hardest things for small business owners to do is to give up control to someone else. But with only so many hours in the day, getting everything done that’s necessary to grow a business is nearly impossible. Which is why it’s important to delegate. Start by dividing your tasks into those which you specifically have to do, and those which you can give to someone else. If you can give it away, do so.Block Out TimeIn order to get tasks done that require focus, try blocking out chunks of time. For instance, if you need to brainstorm ways to increase sales, put the time on your calendar, and when the time rolls around, don’t answer emails or your phone until the allotted time is up. Focus on the task at hand without distraction. I block chunks of time on a daily basis. Since I am most creative in the mornings, I use those hours to write and brainstorm. Afternoons are for emails, meetings, and the business end of my businesses. I long ago structured my life around my natural biorhythms as much as possible, and make changes the exceptions, not the rule.Strive For BalanceWhen you’re on your deathbed, I guarantee you won’t be wishing you’d spent more time at work. To be the most productive you can be, you need be able to focus. And to focus, you need to have balance in all areas of your life. So while you’re building business, don’t forget the other important things in your life like family, friends, health, and faith. There will be times when one area occupies more attention, but strive to always bring things back into balance.Making the most of your time at work will let you not only accomplish more, but to do so with more energy and enthusiasm. 2008, BusinessBurrito.com. All rights reserved.
Donna Williams is the founder and creator of BusinessBurrito.com – a website dedicated to helping small businesses grow to their maximum potential. She is also a 25-year advertising / marketing executive, creative director, writer, and producer. Together, Donna and her husband currently own and co-own five small businesses. To read more of her articles, or to sign up for her free e-newsletter, visit her website at www.businessburrito.com