Time management is an incredibly important topic for small business owners. It’s pretty crucial at any time of the year, but especially so during the summer period. In the warmer months, a lot of us choose to take some time off to rest and recharge. Those of us with children might also want to wind things down a little to allow us to spend time with them. Summer is also a great time for revisiting your plans and your organisation so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when September comes.
And while it’s perfect okay to take time off and work less, or differently, over the summer, this means that we need to make sure we manage our time well. Why? Because business doesn’t stop because it’s summer. Your clients won’t stop wanting or needing you because it’s summer.
As Lord Chesterfield said:
Take care of the minutes, and the hours will take care of themselves.Lord Chesterfield
Getting summer ready
If you saw my previous blog, I shared a series of tips on how to prepare your business for summer. These are, strategically, very important – as is giving yourself enough time to get your business summer-ready. It’s so easy to forget to do so, especially now that we’re into ‘that’ time of year – sports days, family events and so on. That makes now the ideal time to get started on some of these tasks if you haven’t already!
In this blog though, we’re making it all about YOU – because to be able to deliver that strategically planned summer, you need to be on top of your time management.
5 time management tips for summer
For me, summer is about three things:
- Plenty of quality time with my daughter
- Big picture thinking – time to think big, capture new ideas and plan
- Maintenance mode – maintaining what I have and ensuring that I remain visible, ready to hit the ground running come September
Here are my five time management tips for surviving summer as a small business owner:
1) Decide your working pattern in advance
This first time management tip is straightforward, but really important. Essentially, it’s about deciding when you’re working, and when you’re not. Obviously there will be some exceptions, but once you’ve decided on your working pattern, diarise it, and stick to it.
In my case, my default is that I work for a couple of hours in the morning, and then a couple of hours in the afternoon, with more in the evening if I need to. It works well for me and my family, and the in-between hours are focused on my daughter, so she gets what she needs too.
For me, summer is about accepting that we can’t do everything and be everywhere. It’s not the right time to be taking on big new projects or making significant decisions. It’s about taking time to recharge the batteries and spend time with my daughter (she is the reason I am self-employed after all!) whilst continuing to do a good job of ‘business as usual.’
3) Proactively manage your schedule
This third time management tip builds on the previous one in a number of ways. Firstly, when we are balancing potentially conflicting priorities, we need to manage them proactively, rather than let things simply fall off the radar. Instead, if you decide a particular task isn’t a high priority, and perhaps it can wait until later in the year, don’t just assume you’ll remember to revisit it. Instead, move it to a later point in your diary so that you still have time set aside to get it done.
4) Don’t multi-task
I like to think of myself as a good multi-tasker and there’s definitely a time and a place where this comes in handy. But when you’re having to multi-task all the time – like in the summer when the kids are around all the time – it gets a bit much. The conflicting priorities we all have seem even bigger and more of an issue than usual, probably because they can be ever-present during the summer, and things become something of a battle. So instead, plan ahead and know when you’re going to do each thing, and when that time comes, focus on it and get it done. It’s a far more efficient way of doing things.
5) Be SMART
My fifth time management tip relates to your goals and objectives. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, there is no point setting yourself huge goals – they just start to feel unachievable and far off into the future. For example, if you put ‘sort my website’ in your diary, your chances of ‘sorting’ your website on the day you’ve allocated, and doing the task in its entirety, are very slim.
Instead, set yourself SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) goals. Continuing with the website example above, you could set yourself a task of reviewing a particular page on one day, updating your testimonials on another, and so on. These are SMART objectives which, although smaller than the broader ‘sort my website’ objective, are far more achievable. You will make a small amount of progress each day, and feel so much better for it!
Summer time… and the livin’ is easy
If you follow the time management tips above, I can’t promise that the livin’ will be easy, but it will certainly make things easier. So give them a try and see how you get on. Remember, habit change is not a quick thing but improving your time management will happen. You just need to stick with it.
And if you need a little extra help and support, check out my Time Management Deep Dive. I’d love to get together and work with you to take your skills and practices to the next level. You can also book a free consultation to talk through the right approach for you.