Time Management

In our earlier blog You’ll never manage time and here’s why, we explained the typical way that people approach to-do lists and gave some practical tips on how to improve your own personal time management.

In this blog, we look specifically at time management when you’re running your own business.  Does this career option really give you more freedom?   Or is being a freelancer, consultant or business leader even more pressure when it comes to planning your time?

We asked a number of Exeter and Devon-based business owners for their thoughts, and this is what they told us. We hope you find their advice useful – we certainly did!

How is managing time different for you as a business owner, compared to when you were employed? 

Sue Cade, PR Consultant & Writer at In The Right Order has been self-employed for a whopping 27 years so has lots of experience to share.  She told us “weekends without work are rare, but the upside is that I can be flexible so if I want to take an afternoon off in the week, then I can.  I’ll make up for this over the weekend. I think the main impact on time management for me over the past few years is totally wrapped up in social media, which I manage for some clients. It is incredibly time-consuming especially for a retail or hospitality client when an immediate response to customer queries is required.”   Sue sounds like a very busy lady but after 27 years, she’s probably got her time management down to a fine art.

Nicole Windley said business owners need to look out for “perfection paralysis – where nothing ever seems good enough, but it’s better to do something today imperfectly, than do it perfectly… never!”  We think that sounds like great advice Nicole.

A good point made by Maria Harding, who says time management as a business owner is much more focused;

“I’m so driven by my personal and professional goals as a business owner, and achievement is so much more rewarding!”

Michelle Gasgoine said “I never had any issues with how I managed my time when employed and now I do – but I think the key factor here is structure and focus particularly when starting out but it becomes easier.  I’d also suggest that if you work from home, you should create a dedicated working space”.

What’s your top tip for managing time? How do you plan to maximise each day/week/month?

Maria Harding, founder of Four31digital told us, “Starting the day with gratitude helps to focus the mind and attitude for the day.  Listing things that I’d like to accomplish that day in my Five Minute Journal and then summarising great things that happened to me that day are key to keeping things on track and moving forwards in my business and life.”

Claire Thomas, of Life Skills with Mrs T, told us her top tips;

“For me taking regular exercise, walking away from the computer and breaking things down into smaller chunks, helps me stay in a more positive mindset”

Do you use any Apps or Books to help you manage priorities or projects?

Here’s a list of the apps that our Exeter business leaders shared with us;

  • Trello – great for project management.
  • Slack – also great project management and communication.
  • Asana – this is the project management system we use at Momentum South West and we absolutely love it because it’s great at help us facilitate collaborative projects.
  • Toggl – Claire Holgate’s top tip for time recording

And if you’re not really into your tech, a few people told us that a traditional note pad and pen still works really well for them, so phew, keep making those notes.

What’s your top tip for when it all feels like it’s out of control? How do you make sure you regain control?

Maria Harding has created a ‘visioning video’ which keeps her centred and focused.  What a great idea, to create a video of your vision.

David Kilkelly of Blinkback Video shared;

“The most efficient weeks I have are the ones where I take the time to plan the whole week on the previous Friday. Sometimes this can take an hour and it feels counter-productive but pays big dividends the following week.  I try and arrange my diary and tasks according to how my brain works. So analytical and strategic in the morning and creative and social in the afternoon. I also plan in breaks and admin time and leave some slack time on Friday, so that if I overrun, I have time to mop up at the end of the week.”

Becky Kilsby, career coach, said “I’ve learnt to know myself – when I’m having trouble settling to a task (and it’s not due right now), I’ll take myself outside for a walk. I can guarantee that when I return, my head is refreshed, my energy is higher and I can produce much better work than if I’d soldiered on at the screen. The other vital ingredient is a ‘permission slip’ – because I get work done earlier than it’s required, I know I’ve built in space for the times when it’s just not happening. That’s when I give myself the permission to step back, do something energising, confident that when I come back, it’ll flow.”  We love the idea of embracing and accepting that slippage is going to happen – and that’s ok.

We hope you found this advice from Exeter business owners useful to read.  We’re grateful for the time that they took to send us their thoughts.

We’ll finish with some profound thoughts from John W Lewis.

John shared a concept that he’s read up on;

“It is known as “Getting Things Done”, “GTD” for short, by David Allen. It is used by 100,000s of people worldwide and any web search will find it and his book which is the foundation. I can highly recommend it.  The book talks about attention management being more of an issue than time management.”

Thanks for reading and if you want to read our other Time Management blog, then click here.


Here’s a few workshops we’ve got coming up that you might like to attend;

Resilience and Time Management workshop

Consultative Selling for New Business

Social Media Training


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