8 Aug 2012
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
Running a small business can be a stressful venture in light of the countless responsibilities that often can pull an entrepreneur in many different directions.
For most entrepreneurs it’s a tough juggling act trying to keep numerous balls in the air, ranging from planning to organizing to leading and managing a business. Sometimes it’s hard to figure out which of these balls or responsibilities to eliminate to pull off your juggling act effectively. How do you balance the need to oversee your business with the desire to find time for your personal life? This is where time management is critical.
“The biggest challenge for many entrepreneurs is you have all the complexities of a big organization scrunched down into one person,” says David Allen, a widely known productivity consultant best known as the creator of the time management method known as “Getting Things Done (GTD).” “It’s making choices about where they have to put their time and attention.”
Time management is even harder in today’s fiercely competitive world of global business. What’s more, we live in an era where information is so readily available, making it easy to become consumed by social networking, email, blogs, RSS feeds and other tools of the ever-evolving Internet.
Nevertheless, technology can be both a blessing and a curse because it enables us to work smarter, but it also makes it easier for many small entrepreneurs to take the office home with them.
The key is for entrepreneurs to narrow their focus on the most important responsibilities, and to set goals that are vital to the growth of their companies.
With increasing pressure in the new world of work, it’s easy to get trapped in the time management conundrum.
How to effectively approach time management really depends on what stage an entrepreneur is in his or her business, says Allen.
“If your business is successful, you have the stress of opportunity,” he said. “If you’re starting out, it’s all about how do you build something from scratch?”
In order to manage one’s time effectively, Allen believes an entrepreneur must have the right maps in place and must examine each one closely.
“For example, if you have 15 people you need to call, you will likely call the three that pop into your head first,” Allen said. “If you have a list of people to call, that’s a map.”
Allen recommends mapping out the various areas of focus for your company, which would be akin to an organizational chart.
“If you look at your org chart and ask, what are all the things you need to monitor and maintain to have a healthy business, that’s a map,” he said. “What are you doing about finances? What are you doing about sales? How are your marketing strategies?
Time management essentially is asking yourself daily what you need to do to be successful, Allen says. But research shows that regular planning falls by the wayside for many entrepreneurs.
That’s why it’s important to build in regular time to review your organization’s progress. Allen recommends that entrepreneurs commit two hours weekly for this review process to ensure their business goals are being achieved.
Allen’s last piece of advice: Maintain a clear vision of success – to help you determine where you want your company to go and the steps you need to take to get there.
“Step back and see the bigger picture,” he said. “What will success look like and feel like for you in six months from now, two years from now?”
What tips can you share on how to oversee the daily operations of a business and still find time for your personal endeavors?