Q: How can a business owner better manage his/her time?

A: One resource that small business owners say they want more of is time. With there being only 24 hours in a day, entrepreneurs must learn how to wisely mange their time. Fortunately, one of the most effective time management tools is also the simplest — the basic “To-Do” list. Each day, jot down all of the things that need to get done, all on one sheet of paper. 

You also can number or check the ones that are highest priority “must-do” items. As tasks are completed, cross them off. This can help you focus on getting them done one at a time, and also gives you a sense of accomplishment. To add a technology flavor to tracking your tasks, www.TimeTiger.com  provides a web-based to-do list that helps you monitor your project and nonproject activities. 

Delegating more work also can help ease your time crunch. Many business owners accustomed to “doing it all” find this exceedingly difficult. But even if you are a sole operator, you can pass off tasks to others, via outsourcing, for example, to free up time for yourself.

Periodically analyze how time is spent at your business — and not just your time, but everyone’s. Divide the day into small time blocks and record what you, or others, were doing in each block. Now compare this real use of time to your goals, expectations and mission priorities. If they do not align, you’ll need to take action. And remember that growing, successful businesses don’t put things off. Even a simple “no” response to something on your to-do list can extinguish that item and let you move on.

A variety of technology solutions also are helping small businesses track and manage time. For example, www.Workarea.com is an Internet-based time tracking system that can provide billing information to the second. The system includes a time clock, time sheet, expense tracking, address book and the ability to access it all via cellphone or PDA. 

For businesses with employees, the TimeClock Plus Small Business Edition at www.timeclockplus.com lets you turn any PC into a time clock. Employees can sign in or out with the keyboard or mouse, and easily allocate hours and costs to specific jobs. 

— Carol Harding, SCORE counselor

Meet a SCORE counselor

Dave Cooprider retired in March 1999 as superintendent of the Regional Office of Education. His counseling specialty is with nonprofit organizations. He has been a SCORE member for 12 years.

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