6 Time Management Tips to Live By as a Small Business Owner

The life of an entrepreneur is a hectic one — especially as you’re just getting things off the ground. There are the vendors to meet with, the books to keep, the inventory to stock, and the shifts to schedule. Needless to say, when you’re running the day-to-day, it’s easy to let the time you want to dedicate to growing your business slip off the calendar. You need sleep, after all.

If you’re constantly asking yourself, “Where has the day gone?,” you may need to implement some time management tactics. Here are some ways to make sure you’re working as efficiently as possible.

1. Set priorities and stick to a schedule.

Effective calendar management can be a game changer for your business. Take Sunday nights or Monday mornings to make a list of the week’s priorities. Then divide your work week based on types of tasks. Some career coaches suggest splitting your time into “focus” days and “buffer” days. The former is for big-picture things like business development. Square’s robust analytics can help frame this thinking, showing you sales peaks and valleys to determine which areas need your immediate TLC.

Buffer days, on the other hand, are for “keeping the lights on,” so to speak. You should dedicate them to the nitty-gritty things like paperwork, invoices, and payroll processing. To make sure you’re checking as many things as possible off this list, tap into systems. Use online invoicing software to help your sort out which vendors need to be paid and which ones need to pay you, so you can quickly work through your backlog. Look into payroll systems that integrate with your POS to help make paying employees less of a headache.

2. Streamline operations with the right tools.

In terms of time management, there’s one word to live by: automation. So make a list of the things that are taking up a ton of your time, and see where you can put those on autopilot using Square’s tools.

Take inventory management, for example, typically a huge time-suck. Inventory management software lets you check historical sales data so you know in advance when to scale up or down and order the correct number of goods. And to help with the day-to-day, you can set email alerts so you’re notified when items run low.

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And then there’s appointments. If you have clients, online scheduling software is a huge time-saver—especially one that syncs with your Google calendars so you can check availability from anywhere. Online scheduling software also lets clients book appointments with you 24/7, which helps reduce administrative time and bring in more sales.

3. Let the numbers speak to you.

Having a solid short- and long-term grasp on your numbers helps you be smart about how to prioritize your time. Excel not your thing? Adopt a POS that automatically does all math and reports for you based on your sales data. ) to quickly get crucial intel by day, week, month, and year in an easy, digestible form.

4. Pencil in some free time.

If you plan every day down to the second, you’ll never have time for unexpected challenges (the clogged toilet in the employee break room) and opportunities (Clif Bar wants to partner with you for that 5K you’re organizing next month). Try to leave at least one hour each day for the unplanned. If you overschedule yourself, you’re almost always going to fall behind.

5. Find ways to simplify communications and keep track of customers.

Email marketing software can provide customizable email templates with sample text so you don’t have to spend time designing your business’ messaging from scratch. And you don’t need to worry about uploading customer lists from clipboards on the countertop (who needs time-consuming data entry?). A CRM should have all of your customer lists right there — automatically segmented into loyal, casual, and lapsed from your sales data. Having all of this information on-the-ready helps you be strategic about who you’re targeting with which messages.

6. Learn to delegate.

You may wear many hats, but you can’t be everywhere at once. Take time to screen and hire the best employees so you can trust in your team. Then, instead of trying to do it all yourself, you can relinquish some control and assign tasks to those who are working for you.

Master these time management tricks and you may even find yourself with some much-needed free time. Now, that’s something we can all get down with.