Being your own boss can bring added pressure to make sure you’re on top of every aspect of your business. Find out how to prioritise your workload and grow your business sustainably in this article.

We’ll walk you through key elements to improve your workflow so you can build a reliable reputation for delivering great work on time. Discover:

  • How to keep track of projects
  • How to prioritise different workloads
  • How to improve your time management
  • How to save time from routine business tasks

How to keep track of projects

The first thing to do when managing your workload is tracking what needs to be done. You can’t prioritise tasks you don’t know about, and while you probably won’t forget about the bigger projects on your plate, you may have smaller but even more important tasks you should finish first.

Different types of people work best with different methods and so finding something that works best for you is crucial. Whether you prefer a daily checklist written down on a diary or whiteboard or something that links to your calendar and emails to give you reminders, having a single central space for tracking projects will help give you the overview you need to prioritise later on.

As you’re building a tracking method that works for you, try to include the following pieces of information to help you see important details and urgency of projects as you plan:

  • Deadline for delivery: If you’ve promised a client that you’ll finish in five working days, you need to be mindful of that deadline to meet it. This will also help you compare different forthcoming deadlines.
  • Checklist of subtasks: Rarely is one task ever just one thing. Try to include sub-tasks so you can get a better feel for how various tasks compare to others. Don’t go into too much detail – just outline the key steps. 
  • Factor in potential delays: If you post products to customers, how long does it take? You’ll need to work ahead of time if a client is expecting a delivery from you. Similarly, do you have to wait on deliveries yourself before you can begin?
  • Guesstimate a completion time: As you’re finalising a project with a customer, note down how long you think it’ll take. If you’re relatively new to your business, it’s okay to be wrong. Learning how to be more accurate as you go along is the important thing. You can use this guesstimation later on to inform your priorities.

Find some of our app recommendations for productivity in our article The best work from home apps for small business owners.

How to prioritise different workloads

Now that your work tasks are visible in front of you, it’s now time to rank and prioritise them using the method from educator and entrepreneur Stephen Covey. Using the additional task information you’ve included (see above), weigh different urgent and important tasks, then separate them into one of four categories:

  1. Both important and urgent – things you need to do and soon, e.g. deadlines for client projects or tax returns.
  1. Important but not urgent – things you need to do over time, e.g. time spent planning and developing your business or bookkeeping.
  1. Urgent but not important – things that need to be done but can be pushed aside, e.g. monitoring social media performance outside of the time you’ve allotted it.
  1. Neither important nor urgent – things that take up your time and aren’t productive, e.g. client meetings that drag on or filtering through spam emails.

Once you’ve separated your necessary tasks, you can begin to plan how and when you’ll complete them. It’s hard to prescribe any one model of working for everyone and you know your business and style of work best. 

Nonetheless, try to experiment with different approaches to your workload. If you’re struggling to resume large projects or have hit a wall in your motivation, switching to smaller tasks like replying to emails can help you stay productive without being too cumbersome. 

How to improve your time management

Time management is a process that requires feedback. As you’re working and growing your business, set aside time to consider how you can improve. It’s not enough to take on more work or higher-paying contracts, you can also make more money by being more effective with your time. 

Your time is valuable. Aim to identify where you can improve your efficiency or remove necessary tasks from your workflow (like invoicing and pricing) altogether. Find out ways your business can be more productive in our article 6 ways technology helps small businesses.

It’s just as important to recognise your limits. Include time off to rest and reset, like regular breaks throughout the day, and time off with friends and family. 

Making sure you work to deliver consistency in your business and knowing your limits will help your business be sustainable in the long term – even if this means saying ‘no’ to work in the short term. Learn more about balancing your work and personal needs in our article What is work-life balance?

Save time from routine business tasks

Thousands of business owners across the UK are saving hours of time-consuming admin with the Countingup app. It’s the two-in-one business current account and accounting app that automates bookkeeping for freelancers. 

The simple to use app helps you create invoices in seconds, get notifications when you’re paid, and receive automatic invoice matching so that you don’t have to worry about bookkeeping admin.  

With automatic expense categorisation, receipt capture tools and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances and focus on doing what you do best. Find out more here.

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