They say time is money, but to small business owners, time can be even more valuable. Wherever you stand on that debate, chances are, you wish you had more of both, and that’s where time management can play an important role. These ideas may help you manage your time (and your business) better.

Try keeping a log of your time

Many people find that they need more time, but can't quite figure out where all their time is actually going. It may be a good idea to keep a log of your time for a few typical workdays so you can track what you’re spending time on. You may be surprised at what you find.

Get a “Do not disturb” sign

One of the simplest things you can do to better manage your time is to minimize interruptions by hanging a "Do not disturb" sign on your door when you absolutely need to get things done. That's not to say that you don't want to make yourself available to your employees, but you must have time to yourself to take care of business. Have meetings and talk when the time is right.

Make a plan and stick to it

You can't anticipate everything in business, but the more you do plan for, the better. This way, you will be prepared and can carve out the right amount of time for tasks, meetings, and anything that's worth planning for, even if it's a block of time when you don’t want to be disturbed. Following through on your plan can be difficult, but make it a point to stick to your schedule as often as possible.

Don’t over-schedule yourself

Leave some breathing room in your day-to-day schedule to allow for unexpected interruptions, travel time between meetings, restroom breaks, etc. If you don’t, your time management plan is likely to fail. Just as a diet with “cheat days” is more likely to succeed, a time management plan with some built-in wiggle room has a better chance of being successful. You should also leave some free time in your larger calendar. You never know what's going to come up, and you don't want to be completely booked up when an opportunity comes along.

Take a few minutes before calls to think

Whenever you have a call scheduled, whether it be a conference call or a one-on-one conversation, schedule a few minutes before the call so you can get your thoughts in order. As a business owner, you may be juggling several tasks and projects at the same time. Having that few extra minutes to focus on the task at hand gives you a chance to get in the right mindset for the coming conversation.

Respond to emails/IMs in scheduled blocks

You probably get emails and Instant Messaging (IMs) all day, every day. If you want to better manage your time, however, try scheduling certain blocks throughout your day to check and answer them. This helps prevent you from getting distracted and sidetracked from the currently scheduled task. Each of those interruptions adds up to time that could be spent more efficiently.

Cut out other distractions

Emails and IMs are certainly not the only distractions. The temptation to check your smartphone or computer for notifications or to log in to social networks is always a click or tap away. Put your phone away when you don't need it, and get it out if you must during those scheduled email/IM blocks. Then, watch how much more productive your day is.

Use tools that help

While we live in an age of increased distractions, we're also fortunate to live in a time when there are many tools that can help us manage our lives and our time. Seek out tools that meet your needs. Check out calendar apps, to-do list programs, etc. If you put some effort into it, you can vastly improve how well you manage your time as a business owner.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC