The effective use of time is a critical factor in business success. If you and your staff use time wisely, productivity increases, making each employee more valuable to your business.

Train your staff in the basics of time management. Managing time within a business is often a team effort, with employees working together to deliver desired outcomes in less time. However, time management isn’t necessarily a skill every employee has. Provide the training and the tools to enable each employee to better manage daily activities simply, easily, at a glance.

Here are a few tips to get you started:

Review last week’s schedule. What did you plan to accomplish last week, and what actually happened?  You’ll probably find that you spent lots of time on tasks that produced little or no results.  Identify those activities that delivered the best results and devote at least 50% of each day to those activities. Think of ways to eliminate, scale down, or delegate non-productive tasks.

Get organized before you start your day. Set up a block of time at the beginning of each day to make a to-do list and prioritize tasks. Then, plan your day for increased effectiveness.

Track and eliminate interruptions. Unplanned activities can nibble away at your daily timeline. Track the sources of daily interruptions and develop a system to eliminate them to help you keep focused on the business at hand. For example, if your email system sends you alerts whenever a message comes in, consider turning off that function and just check your messages a few times a day. 

Define success. Before that next meeting, or 10 minutes before that conference call, make a list of objectives – what you wish to attain through these typical business activities. Once objectives are met, ask for questions and move to the next item on your daily to-do list. Unless you know the most desired outcomes, you won’t know success when you see it.

Get fit. A simple routine of walking, and staying clear of the snack machines in the break room, can greatly improve your use of time, getting more done in less time.  Do desk exercises throughout the day to stretch muscles and get blood flowing. Take frequent breaks to get away from the computer screen.

A brisk walk before work energizes mind and body so you’re ready to get to work the moment you reach your desk. A light lunch, and a 20-minute walk around the parking lot at noon may keep you energized and nimble all afternoon.

Get away from it all. Vacations are not a waste of time. In fact, vacations are an opportunity to re-charge the batteries.

Go somewhere for a three-day weekend without your smart phone or tablet. Disconnect. Go fishing. Spend time with the kids. The objective is to stop thinking about work for a while. Give your brain a rest to come at daily challenges refreshed and invigorated, with new insight and perspective.

Recognize your limits. No one can do it all every day. You’ll miss some items on your to-do list. You’ll be pulled in five directions at once. Some days run more smoothly than others. There are factors that are out of your control, from a computer meltdown to a blizzard during your big annual store sale.

Keep your focus on those aspects of business you can control – appointments, time allotment, meetings, conferences, sales calls – all can be managed for best effect. However, even the most organized, most attentive business owner will, at times, “hit the wall.” There’s always tomorrow.

In good and bad economies, time management creates more effective operations and more productive employees. Manage your time to help you better manage your company. 

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.