Brought to you by BairesDev:
Whether you own a large software outsourcing company or are a freelance graphic designer, the way you manage your time has a huge impact on your success, happiness, and work-life balance.
While there are many differences between these two types of self-employed people, both are accountable to others, including employees, clients, partners, and vendors. They both have many different roles and tasks to accomplish. And they are both in charge of how they spend their own time.
For these reasons, and others we’ll discuss below, time management is super important when you work for yourself. Worst-case scenarios for those who don’t do it well include missed deadlines, lost business, feeling overwhelmed, and failing to meet both personal and work-related obligations.
Review the recommendations below to make sure these entirely avoidable situations don’t happen to you.
You Wear Many Hats
As the owner of a large business, you might have people or entire teams devoted to things like finance, marketing, and sales. And they might be very good at what they do. But you still have to take charge and make sure they’re meeting your expectations and those of other stakeholders.
If you’re a small business owner or solopreneur, you likely perform many of these tasks yourself. You may manage your own website, perform your own bookkeeping, promote your products or services, and manage contracts and invoices. No matter the size of your company, you don’t have any time to spare.
Tips for managing your teams or roles:
- Devote time to each task. Think about all your roles or teams and assign a value to each one. Create an appropriate amount of time in your schedule to devote to them each week.
- Use tools for assistance. Use a calendar application like Google Calendar to create repeating time blocks. Use color coding to help you see at a glance what your schedule looks like at any given time.
- Hire help. Know your limits and when it’s time to call for help. For example, you may be able to create your own website. But do you really want to spend the time it would take to do so?
You Need to Prioritize
When you’re in business for yourself, you make many of the decisions. One of the most important decisions you can make is which activities are worth doing and which aren’t.
For example, you may have a goal to expand your social media presence. But do you really need to be on every social media site? Experiment to find out where you get the most business from and increase your efforts there.
Tips for prioritizing tasks:
- Don’t waste time when it’s not needed. For instance, responding to RFPs can be time-consuming, so only respond to those that are truly a good fit for your company.
- Use KPIs. Key performance indicators (KPIs) let you know where you need to course-correct.
- Track your time. You may think you know how you spend your time, but do you, really? Use a time tracker like Harvest and run reports so you can see objectively where you spend your time.
Your Reputation is on the Line
One of the greatest assets your company has is its reputation. When you’re the boss, your company’s reputation and yours are one and the same. Wasting time and letting important things fall through the cracks can lead to a loss of reputation, which can translate into lost sales.
Tips for preserving your reputation:
- Only take projects you’re sure you can deliver on. Taking on a project that’s out of your reach and not doing a great job on it is worse than declining the work.
- Know your limit. As a smaller company, you have limits on how much work you can take on. Know how much you can reasonably do and pass any overflow on to a trusted subcontractor or colleague.
- Make time to promote your accomplishments. Keep your reputation polished by announcing your and your company’s big moments.
You Need Time for Yourself
No matter how much you like what you do, life is more than work. You need to take care of yourself, your household, and your family to be successful.
Tips for creating work-life balance:
- Plan around your natural rhythms. Remember, you’re the boss and can set how and when you work. Are you a night owl? Why not start your day at noon, work until dinner time, then put in a few more hours before going to bed?
- Schedule in things you know you need to do to keep your life running smoothly. One of the great parts of working for yourself is you can seamlessly switch between work and personal activities. For example, you could do your grocery shopping on Tuesday mornings when it’s much less crowded than at other times of the week.
- Keep work and personal life separate. Of course, there are always exceptions. But as much as possible, give 100% to the activity you’re currently engaged in.
Guard Your Schedule
Once you have your processes and schedules figured out, guard them carefully. For example, if your rule is that you will spend two hours each Friday processing invoices, don’t let requests for other meetings or tasks get in your way.