In today’s economy, being a small business owner is a tough job. There are constant demands on time, decisions to be made, and stress about the company’s bottom line.

For entrepreneurs who think that multitasking is the answer, numerous studies have shown that multitasking is not an efficient way to work. It has even been suggested that this common practice can limit one’s ability to make decisions, decrease short-term memory and even lead to weight gain.

Need more hours in the day?

“I haven’t met a business owner yet who doesn’t wish there were more hours in the day,” said Jim Sathre, Senior Vice President, M&I, a part of BMO Financial Group.

“They always feel stretched so thin between work and family, but much of that stress can be eliminated using more effective time management.”

Sathre offers a few ways that business owners can refresh and revise their workday habits to work more efficiently and make the best use of their resources.

  1. Prioritize your to-do list. Differentiate between things that must get done, things that should get done, and things that can wait. Then tackle the tasks accordingly. But be realistic about how much you can accomplish in one day.
  2. Focus. Jumping sporadically from one task to another isn’t efficient. For example, set aside times during the day to reply to email and phone messages rather than responding to them throughout the day.
  3. Delegate whenever possible. You have staff for a reason – use them! You’ll probably always have more on your task list than you can reasonably tackle, so this change will be especially important.
  4. Utilize outside resources. Talk to your business partners – bankers, CPA, lawyers, etc. – about ways you can streamline operations. Brainstorming with these groups can lend a crucial outside perspective on potential business improvements.
  5. Learn to say “no.” Be realistic about the constraints on your time, and what tasks you really need to take on. This can be hard at first, but both you and your colleagues will be better off if you make an honest assessment.
  6. Make time to be away from the office. Don’t fall prey to the misconception that more hours at the office will create more success. Everyone needs a chance to recharge, and those times away from work will give your mind a chance to relax and refocus.

Controlling the time you spend managing your business finances can be made easier when you engage your banker. Many banks offer a complete line of cash management tools all designed to help businesses improve their bottom line. Among the options are products to help you speed up collection of receivables, better utilize cash on hand, manage automatic payroll processing, and perform remote deposit capture, to name a few.

“Changing your time management habits isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight,” said Sathre. “But in the long run, these modifications can be well worth the effort.”

Business owners who can become more efficient and effectively manage time can lead a more balanced life, and perhaps even have increased business success and personal peace of mind. However, it will require some dedication and a lot of practice.

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