This post may contain affiliate links, these are indicated by an *.
If you are currently trying to create a growing business but you’re also working a 9-5. Then you can probably relate to the struggle of “How on earth do I make REAL progress when I have such a limited amount of time each day?!”
It’s not only hard, but it can also be extremely frustrating. Trying to decide WHAT you actually need to work on with the very limited amount of time that you have can be overwhelming.
If you are still trying to find time in your busy day then use our time-map to try and create some time for yourself.
If you have limited time, even if it is just 30 minutes, you need to make sure you make the absolute most of that precious time.
No more wasting half of it wondering what you should do. No more trying to do everything and achieving nothing. What you are about to learn is how to stay on top of your small business with whatever time you have available. AND use that time effectively.
By the time you have gone through the following 7 steps, you will know exactly how to spend your limited time and will be able to get more done in a shorter space of time.
Step 1 – Identify your goals
Running and growing a small business, single-handedly, makes for an interesting life. You have to be able to turn your hand to everything. But what that means is that you also can set yourself so much to do that it just isn’t achievable or realistic.
We talked about setting SMART goals here. Using the SMART approach you should be able to define goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-limited. Use these goals to form the basis of all the work that you do.
To be effective make sure each goal is either about growing your audience or growing your sales.
Write down all your SMART goals in one place so you can get a clear picture of what you want to get done.
Step 2 – Prioritise your goals
Once you have a list of everything you want to achieve, start prioritising them.
Look at the goals based on what will have the biggest impact, what are you most excited about, which is closest to being finished or easiest to finish.
How you to choose to prioritise them is up to you, as long as you do it, and you understand the reason for giving it that priority.
Step 3 – Choose just one goal to work on
Most small business owners have many things on the go at once. You spend your time doing bits of all of them, but never really finish any of them.
The problem is that the more you multitask the more energy you are wasting.
Every time you switch focus to a new, or different, project, you waste 20% of your time and energy! If you only have 30 minutes to play with then that doesn’t leave you much time to get productive!
Being effective starts with focusing on and completing just ONE goal (or project) at a time!
So from your list of goals choose the top priority goal to start work on.
Do not start another goal until your chosen one is complete.
Step 4 – Breakdown the goal into activities
For the goal you have chosen write down all the specific activities that you need to do to complete your goal. The smaller and more specific the activity is the better.
In doing this it helps you to realise how much effort will be required and actually makes it appear more doable.
Let’s call these your goal activities.
Step 5 – Identify your top growth activities
Now you have your specific goal activities in order, take a look at the other activities you spend time on for your business in the course of a week.
Let’s call these your operational activities.
Out of the operational activities identify the ones that are responsible for 95% of your revenue. These growth activities are the day to day activities that are key to growing your business.
Examples of growth activities are:
- Promoting/marketing your business
- Reviewing your shop SEO (titles and tags)
- Creating a new product
- Creating new content
Examples of non-growth activities are:
- Tweaking your shop/website
- Checking your email
- Messing around on Canva or Pinterest
- ‘Networking’ on social media
The bottom line is that whenever you are wondering what to do, you should do one of your growth activities.
Step 6 – Refine and schedule for your growing business
Take all your goal activities and growth activities from steps 4 and 5.From this list cross off any that you can delete. Circle what you can delegate to someone else and then schedule what is left. Use our Priority Planner to refine your activities.
Make sure you are consciously scheduling. What I mean by that is you set out specific days and times to sit down and do the chosen activity and nothing else. AND make sure you actually do it!
Focusing on one thing at a time is essential to being productive.
Step 7 – Be ruthless with distractions
Growing a business is hard work so if you want to maximise your time and effort then you must be ruthless with distractions.
Make sure you eliminate ALL distractions during your scheduled work time!
That means letting your family know you are busy. No checking of emails or social media, or no half-watching television.
Being laser-focused on the task at hand will mean you finish it quicker and better.
The result of these 7 steps will mean that you have a plan of all the tasks you SHOULD be working on.
Whenever an opportunity presents itself where you have some spare time, then you don’t need to waste half of it thinking about what you can do. You know exactly what needs doing, and you can get on to it straight away.
Knowing what you should be working on will save you time and help you to grow your business in no time.
Don’t work harder, work smarter!