The Biggest Time Wasters for Small Business Owners—and How to Avoid Them

I don’t mind spending time, but I hate wasting it. If you are a small business owner wearing umpteen hats, I know you agree.

You can probably rattle off a dozen time-stealers right now, but how do you avoid them? I’ve compiled my short list of time wasters, along with some practical solutions to skirt these thieves. If we’re intentional, we can take back our time management wins!

1. Unnecessary meetings.Do you really need a meeting for a status review? Email works well for these types of reports. While some meetings are necessary, many are not. If you must have a meeting, set a time limit on it and do it at a time of day when it makes most sense for your flow of energy. Afternoon meetings don’t get your entire day off track.

2. Answering phones.You shouldn’t be the one answering the phone in your business. Hire a receptionist—or a virtual receptionist—to do these sorts of tasks.

3. Administration mountain. There will always be a mountain of administrative work to tackle. This is not the highest and best use of your time and indeed keeps you in the weeds instead of in the valley of innovation. Delegate, delegate, delegate.

4. Striving for perfectionism. You want excellence, not perfection. You can spend extra hours on a project with minimal return. If it’s only going to be 1 percent better after another review, skip or delegate the review and move on to the next project.

5. Procrastination station. You may think you are saving time by putting off tasks you don’t want to do, but in the end it can cause you bigger headaches to let them sit and wait. Success coach Brian Tracy taught me to “eat that frog.” Pick the hardest task of the day that’s plaguing your mind and do it first. It will be downhill from there and you won't waste your precious mental energy dreading it.

6. Social media spirals. Social media is important but it can send you off in a whirlwind. Hire an assistant to handle your social media. Arm them with a schedule and postings and get out of the social media vortex.

7. Too much multitasking. The ability to multitask is an earmark of successful people, but too much multitasking can work against you because it distracts you. Try not to do more than three things at once (OK, how about five?).

8. Overwhelm land. It’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at your task list and allow stress and anxiety to slow you down. Work from a master task list, but consider a separate list on which you put no more than five high-priority tasks. Try mixing it up, putting some more difficult tasks and some easier tasks among the five so you can feel like you are driving momentum.

9. Disorganization dangers.It’s been said creative people have messy desks, but if you can’t find what you need when you need it, you’re wasting time. Take an hour now to organize your desk, your electronic systems, and the rest and you’ll ultimately save more time in the end.


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