Starting and running a small business is a massive commitment of both money and time. Many people underestimate the time investment that it takes in the first few years of a business to get it off the ground, fully operational, and on track to success. In fact, time management tends to be one of the biggest issues for small-business owners. These tips can help you better manage your time and may even help you find the elusive work-life balance that drives many entrepreneurs to start businesses in the first place.

1. Use technology to run a smarter business

Many business owners love technology, and for a good reason — it can make your life easier. There are a limitless number of tech tools that help you keep track of business activities and automate processes. For instance, there’s software that can help you track your hours, so you can get an accurate feel for how you’re spending your time. (Slack, Asana, and Trello are some of the more popular choices.) 

If payroll takes you hours, you could consider looking at software that automates payroll (QuickBooks, Peachtree, Paychex, or similar). Technology could also help you outsource these tasks, using sites like UpWork or Fiverr.

By getting “smart” about how you run your business, you can save enormous amounts of time and focus your energy on other duties or areas of your life. It can also help you find opportunities to delegate. 

2. Learn to delegate

Delegating can be tough for business owners. Between money being too tight to justify a new hire, to fear of “losing control” of certain processes, many small-business owners fall into the trap of doing everything themselves. 

Start by documenting your process for the things you do each day (the technology you set up in step one may be able to help with this). Once you have these processes in place, spend time finding someone with the skill set and personality you feel you can work with, and pass the processes off to them. This makes delegation (and training) much easier, and you will quickly see a return on your investment in the person you hire.

If you have a hard time delegating, start with the tasks you find yourself putting off, or that you find to be particularly time consuming. You could also start with tasks that are less critical to your business and then add more important jobs as you build trust with your team.

3. Make time for family and personal life

Setting aside uninterrupted time for your family and personal interests is crucial to striking a work-life balance and can make you more present when you do show up for work. For instance, you could make it a point to have nights with your partner or spend quality time with your kids, if you have them. Also, if volunteer work is important to you, make sure you set aside time for those non-business, community activities. 

Making time away from work can keep you fresh, too: Spend time on hobbies separate from your business, like gaming, home renovation, gardening, or whatever else you like. Time away from work can have the added benefit of helping with new ideas and creating a fresh perspective.

The important thing is to turn off the phone, tablet, and computer, and be present with those you love, doing the activities outside of work that matter most to you. 

4. Share your journey with your family and close friends

While your family and friends might have a general understanding of what you do, make sure to share with them exactly what you do, including the wins and failures you encounter along the way. Make a point of explaining what you do and how you make a living to your family. Be sure to include what about your business makes you happy. 

Talking about your business can help you better understand which parts matter to you most (which can also help you delegate better). It can also help your inner circle understand why you do what you do, and why it’s so important to your life and happiness.

Focusing 100% on business — 24/7/365 — without recognizing the need for balance, can easily lead to burnout in both your business and personal life. Time management, and finding the right balance between work and life, will be different for every business owner. But it’s important that you find a strategy that works for you.

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