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Making the best use of time as a small business owner

Juggling multiple roles and responsibilities to keep small businesses running smoothly can be stressful. Sometimes it can feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

We know that work-life balance is important and at times hard to achieve, but ensuring you take time out from the business for yourself and your relationships is key to maintaining your mental health and wellbeing and build resilience.

The time management tips below can help you make the most efficient use of time during your work hours and optimise productivity.

Define your resources and role

It can be helpful to define your role and responsibilities – think of it as writing your own job description. What are the tasks that are important or essential for you to complete, and what could potentially be done by someone else? Also think about how many hours you can work in a day and whether you can reasonably fit all of these tasks in or what may need to be changed or adapted.

Monitor how much time you spend on specific aspects of the business

Keeping a log of how you spend your time can help you track how long tasks take, and whether you are spending too much time on things you could easily delay, delegate or outsource. There are a number of apps and software that can help you do this, such as the Toggl track app. Consider yourself and your time as a resource to your business; reflect on your areas of expertise and what the priorities are for the business right now. Where would your time be best spent and is this occurring?

Take the time to plan and prioritise

When we are at our busiest, it is easy to skip planning and just complete the urgent tasks as they arise. But investing in the time to plan what tasks are most important, what is urgent, and what can wait or be delegated can really help with efficiency and save time in the long run. Plan the important deliverables for the week or month, and make a separate plan for each day showing how you will achieve this. There are ready-made diary and planning templates and software available. There are also a number of planning strategies you can use, for example, to-do lists, blocking out time for specific tasks, or the urgency/importance matrix to help you prioritise.

Make the most of resources

Remember that you do not have to do everything yourself. Invest in support and tools that will save you time, money and stress.

  • Outsourcing – investing in outside help for business activities that are outside your area of expertise can save a huge amount of time and lead to better outcomes such as website development, marketing and accounting.
  • Technology – invest in time-saving software or equipment to streamline or automate processes such as record keeping, booking management or sales/invoicing software.
  • Take a course or seek advice – there are a number of time or business management courses that may provide some useful tips and advice, or you can also seek assistance from a business adviser or coach.

Managing interruptions, minimising distractions

Did you know that it can take up to 23 minutes to refocus after an interruption?1 If you can schedule a time to complete tasks in a space where interruptions are minimised you will be able to complete work more efficiently. For example, take admin or reporting work to the office in a quiet time, and do not take phone calls or check emails, rather than trying to multitask. Otherwise, you may need to factor additional time for interruptions into your planning.

Boost your mood

A work environment that meets your needs can have a big impact on your concentration, motivation and ability to work productively and efficiently. Consider the lighting, your desk set up, your surroundings such as music and ambient noises, as well as taking regular breaks, as these can all affect your energy levels and mood at work. See the 'Mood boosters' resource for more ideas.

To boost your energy outside of work, do things you enjoy, connect socially with family and friends, exercise and book some time off.


  1. Mark G, Gonzalez VM, Harris J. No task left behind? Examining the nature of fragmented work. InProceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems 2005 Apr 2 (pp. 321-330).

Further reading

Toggl Track

A free mobile or desktop app that allows you to track your time. Search Toggl in the Apple App Store or Google Play.

More Resources