Managing time is a challenge no matter the job, but contractors tend to have it pretty rough. Most contractors wear a lot of times when they start, which is like immediately being promoted to CEO of a company where the only employee is you – you can imagine how chaotic it can be.
But there are tried and trusted methods for time management out there, and the more you know about them the better. You don’t have to employ every method, but certainly, try different things until you find a method that works for you.
Know your priorities
Not setting priorities well is one of the main reasons contractors get overwhelmed. In theory, it’s very simple: delegate your tasks based on what’s more important first.
If you have something that has to be done today, there’s no reason to spend your precious time with other less urgent tasks right now. Focus on the big one, you will have time for the others later, once they become priorities.
Having said that, there’s an argument for starting the day with your easiest tasks. If it will only take you 5-10 minutes to finish something, there’s no reason why it should wait the entire day or let it be postponed for tomorrow. Just knock it out of your task list quickly and move on.
Get rid of time sinks
It’s quite common for parts of our routines to turn into major time sinks, but we refuse to change them because, well, they’re routine.
I’ll talk about tracking time below, but it’s definitely a useful tool for identifying time sinks and dealing with them.
For example, you might find that you spend a long time every day managing your social media. It’s an important part of your marketing strategy, but perhaps you can find ways to optimize your time while you can’t hire someone to perform these tasks for you.
Another common time sink is the time spent on phone calls or meetings. You can optimize that by using emails or messaging apps, as well as video calls to save you the time to travel to certain places.
Track your time
A time-tracking tool does wonders for your time management overall.
First, knowing exactly how long you take to perform certain tasks is good information to have. You will learn how to organize yourself much better and become way more consistent in the process.
Second, it helps in identifying unnecessary time sinks, as mentioned before. When you look at a graph of your day and notice huge chunks of time being dedicated to the wrong things, it becomes a lot easier to understand why and take action.
I highly recommend an app like Toggl. There are plenty of others too, but Toggl is reliable, highly compatible with multiple devices, and most importantly, it’s free. It works on desktops and phones just as well, meaning you will always have it available and synced no matter where you are.
You may also consider time management methods such as Pomodoro for certain tasks, but these won’t work in every situation. Try a few and see which works better for you.
Check out other free resources that will help your contractor business!
Work with your team
Most contractors start by themselves, but once you start working with a team, it’s important to know how to delegate tasks to save time.
Fortunately, all your previous experience with priorities and time-tracking will come in handy now. You will have a much better understanding of time management, which will make it easier to work with your team. You know how to determine priorities and how to save time, so you can pass that knowledge on and have a very efficient team.
Automate when possible
Many tasks can be automated to save time. Just to name a few that come up often, things that backing up files, sharing schedules, posting on social media, sending emails, invoice and receipt generation, and much more.
There are tools that can help with this, but the idea is the same: don’t spend your time doing these manually when they can be easily automated. It’s free time you gain with just a little bit of effort.
In fact, this is a good measure of value for paid services and tools. If it’s good enough to automate a ton of tasks and save you time, then it might be worth the investment.
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