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4 ways to reclaim your time: Essential tips for small business owners



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Restore harmony

Ready to reclaim your time? Part of the allure of entrepreneurship is owning your time clock— but as a fast-paced freelancer or an ambitious small business owner, time often isn’t on your side.

Without an extensive network of colleagues to fall back on or the support of an organization helping you to deliver on your promises or meet deadlines, the pressure is always on. Throw a bunch of additional plates into the juggling mix (household chores, food shopping, errands, childcare, maintaining friendships, exercise … the list goes on) and you can find yourself stretched to the very limits.

“I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.” ~ Golda Meir

When you lose your grip on time management, every day starts to blend into one giant blur. Your work-life balance is knocked off its axis and leisurely weekends become a thing of the past. After a while, you might start to neglect yourself, feel guilty for not spending time with people, and experience burnout.

It’s not easy to remain productive while striking a decent work-life balance — especially when you’re out there making it on your own. But, there is a way.

If you’re reading this and you seriously need to reclaim your time, stick around because here are four practical time management methods that will restore harmony to your existence.

4 ways to reclaim your time as a small business owner

One of the biggest benefits of being a freelancer or owning a business is the fact that you can work the hours that suit you while taking charge of your professional destiny.

But, as mentioned, the problem is that without the ability to manage your time, you can feel trapped in a perpetual cycle of sleeping restlessly, clawing through your day, and playing catch-up.

Yes, you’re prepared to work hard and go the extra mile. And, no you didn’t decide to become self-employed to have your quality of life thrown out of the virtual window.

It’s, well, time to reclaim your time with these four essential methods:

  1. Discover your ‘pockets of time.’
  2. Set aside allocated time for business admin and development.
  3. Map out your time with room for flexibility.
  4. Work with the right time management tools.

Let’s dive into each strategy.

1. Discover your ‘pockets of time’

To restore a healthy work-life balance, optimize your days with a little something I like to call the “pockets of time” trick.

If you look close enough, you will discover small but consistent pockets of time that offer the potential to take care of your daily duties while increasing your output systematically.

When you start looking for pockets of time, you’ll discover that they’re plentiful.

Start by identifying your time pockets. Some examples include:

  • That 20 minutes between the morning routine and the school run
  • The 30-minute train ride to the city
  • The 10 minutes spent waiting for an online shopping delivery
  • The extra 15 minutes for an extended lunch break
  • The 60 minutes when you watch repeats of your favorite Netflix series

Then, document daily or weekly milestones you would like to achieve within each gap.

You might find that these pockets of time are best for making personal phone calls, firming up family plans or getting a few extra steps in rather than actual work-based tasks (remember, this is all about striking a balance).

Even if your schedule only amounts to two hours per week, that’s eight hours per month that you’re using your time more productively and more methodically.

Before long, you’ll be on a path to reclaim your time.

While this streamlining system might take some effort to set up and get going, working with your pockets of time will soon become seamless. Before long, you’ll find that you can move fluently from one task or pursuit to the next, creating a sense of harmony in the process.

Related: Mindfulness for entrepreneurs

2. Set aside allocated time for business admin and development

With your pockets of time firmly in place, you can optimize your weekly schedule further by setting aside a specific morning or evening outside your core work hours to tackle business admin or development. These tasks might include:

  • Creative planning
  • Content production
  • Social media management
  • Competitive research
  • Networking
  • Budgeting and other bookkeeping

The reason for allocating time for admin and personal development a little more rigidly is because it will empower you to invest all of your efforts into specific work tasks or personal errands at the moment, rather than flitting from one task to the next in a crazed frenzy. That’s a strategic approach to reclaiming your time.

Focused time is time well spent — and it will boost your productivity while maintaining your physical as well as mental energy.

When you’re setting aside time for admin and development, choose a time and day you can realistically stick to and that aligns with when you feel the most comfortable.

For instance, if you feel super productive in the mornings, get up a little earlier one day to tackle your admin and development. Conversely, if you feel that you will focus better when everything else is tied up for the day, set up your workstation, grab a snack, and get going in the evening.

Related: Tips to grow a global business

3. Map out your time with room for flexibility

At this stage, you will know how to reclaim your time on a fundamental level: you will have discovered pockets of time to leverage; you will have become more fluent in how you tackle tasks, and you will have the framework in place to genuinely focus on whatever you are doing at the moment.

Now, this might seem counterintuitive but it’s critical to create a harmonious schedule: Leave a certain amount of flex to avoid falling behind or spinning back out of control. Here’s how:

  • Take a moment to examine the week ahead, looking at each day individually.
  • Allocate “slack time” — a measurement in minutes of how long you can potentially stretch out each pocket of time before having to rearrange your schedule — to each task or segment of your day.
  • Once you’ve gone through your week with a fine-tooth comb, go back through each day, making sure you’ve arranged your activities so that you have enough time to accomplish them thoroughly. Also, if you find any activity that you feel is redundant, remove it with haste.

Here are some additional tips that will empower you to add a certain amount of flex to your schedule … and take big strides toward fully reclaiming your time as a small business owner:

  • Set deadline delivery dates for clients or customers to complete the task one to three days earlier. That way you’ll leave yourself plenty of contingency time if something crops up — and if you deliver on your promises early, you will do wonders for your brand reputation.
  • Outsource certain aspects of your admin or work duties to other services or freelancers if possible. If you work with the right partners or people, you will enjoy a healthy return on investment (ROI) over time.
  • Have backup options in place (childcare options, trusted friends or family to help you out, and automated emergency email responses, for example) in case you are thrown a curveball, so you can solve any issues without stressing out too much and affecting other days in your working week.

Bonus tip: With your schedule ironed out, revisit all of your activities, commitments, and tasks, color-coding them according to priority. Doing this will empower you to make further tweaks to your schedule and optimize your agenda for optimum productivity.

Plus, this simple yet effective color-coded system will provide a practical key for all future scheduling commitments while guiding you to success when unexpected events, occurrences or setbacks (if something throws your schedule out, you’ll be able to refer to your color key to rearrange or postpone certain commitments to get more pressing matters with a cool, calm approach) unfold.

Note: When prioritizing your schedule, remember to attack it logically. Make sure that you prioritize your commitments according to their importance rather than what you like doing best. For example, while it’s vital to set aside an hour for a leisure activity if a project or proposal deadline is looming, that must come first — meaning you must color code it accordingly.

4. Work with the right time management tools

When considering how to reclaim your time, it’s always worth remembering that we live in a digital age where tools and technologies exist to make freelancers’ and business owners’ lives easier.

To help you roll out your optimized time management methods effectively, there are a wealth of effective tools that can help you get things done more quickly without compromising on professionalism or quality, including:

Take the time to research and compare these various types of time management-based tools and choose which ones you feel will offer the most value based on your specific business goals and needs.

Weave them into your weekly schedule, refining the way you use them until they integrate into your brand new schedule seamlessly. Eventually, you will discover that you’re able to tackle your to-do list more efficiently (and with a newfound sense of gusto) while striking that all-important healthy work-life balance.

Activities to help you understand how to reclaim your time

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.” ~ Alan Lakein

Plan to streamline

Set aside time to set up your streamlining schedules, planning two weeks. Commit to your schedule and color key. At the end of the two weeks, reflect on how your life has changed as a result of your efforts.

Declutter to focus

Go through your home one room at a time and start cleansing. Sell or donate any items you don’t need and de-clutter your drawers, shelves, cupboards, etc. Doing so will reduce everyday distractions and help you focus on your streamlining efforts on a sustainable basis.

Look ahead to an important annual event

Whether it’s a major holiday or a big family birthday, volunteer to take the lead and organize the event, putting your newfound time management skills to the test. Doing so will also give you more control of times, dates and itineraries while incentivizing you to put plans in place so you can enjoy your time off as intended.

Clocking off

”Time is more valuable than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” ~Jim Rohn

Even with the best mindset and the slickest of tool-backed time management schedules, things happen. Not every week will go your way and your work-life balance may suffer at times.

But, by following the steps above, you will know how to reclaim your time and get back on track swiftly, turning what was once a permanent state of stress into a temporary blip. The power is in your hands: the time to take charge of your schedule is now.

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Managing people

Four Effective Tips to Improve Labor Management in Companies



Businesses worldwide are always on the hunt for ways to improve their processes and add more efficiency to day-to-day functions. Of course, labor management is one of the major aspects of every company that demands continuous attention and improvement.

Every business understands that effective labor management is essential when it comes to increasing the productivity, safety, and efficiency of every project. The managers bear all burden to ensure that the labor is working effectively to meet the needs of supply and demand chains.

Here are some effective ways to improve labor management in your company for the best of your business.

1. Use Standardized KPIs

It can be hard to hold someone accountable for their performance when there is no evidence to back up the claims. In such circumstances, the labor deserving of praise may be left out, and those who need improvement may continue to waste company time and resources. Of course, such practices can cost you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Hence, smart companies worldwide are using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as a tool for worker motivation and accountability. These indicators help them better understand why certain standardized goals exist and their role in making the company succeed.

2. Incorporate a Software

Managers have a lot on their shoulders in addition to managing the workforce. A few people cannot keep an eye on everyone throughout the day. They need Kaizen Software to find the best solution for labor management. This way, the managers can find time to pay attention to many more important matters.

Efficient management software is being used worldwide due to its countless benefits. They offer security, better communication, and enhanced tracking to make your business more efficient. Hence, your business will have a better opportunity to grow and bloom.

3. Ensure Safety at the Workplace

Every workspace has its own challenges. However, everyone can agree that industrial workers have more challenges when it comes to safety. After all, they are surrounded by heavy machinery and face increased chances of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Hence, it must be a top priority to make your workplace safer.

You can start by looking into the hazards in your workspace and minimizing them one by one. In addition, it is also important to ensure that all your workers have access to safety gear at all times. Caution can save more lives than building an elaborate regime to care for injured workers.

Managing industrial workforce

4. Keep Workers Posted

Whether a construction site or a chemical industry, there can be new hazards and precautions for workers every day. A little negligence in the workplace can lead to a regrettable accident. Hence, it is always a good idea to keep your workers informed about current events.

Knowledge about company procedures and safety rules can reduce insecurity among workers and increase their efficiency. It is best to let your workers know that all their questions will be answered. This way, they can feel more comfortable seeking your guidance instead of finding out by trial and error.

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Managing people

10 Key Strategies for Managing and Engaging your Employees



Effective employee management and engagement are crucial for small businesses to foster a positive work environment, maximize productivity, and retain top talent. Small business owners need to prioritize their employees’ well-being, provide growth opportunities, and create a culture that promotes engagement and collaboration.

Here, we will explore ten strategies and practices for employee management and engagement in small businesses.

1. Clear Communication and Expectations

Clear communication is vital to set expectations and ensure alignment between the business and its employees. Regularly communicate goals, priorities, and performance expectations to your team. Provide feedback and recognition for their achievements and address any concerns or issues promptly. Encourage an open-door policy and create channels for open dialogue and feedback.

2. Training and Development Opportunities

Investing in training and development opportunities for your employees demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success. Identify areas where employees can benefit from additional skills or knowledge and provide relevant training programs. This can include workshops, conferences, online courses, or mentoring programs. Encourage a culture of continuous learning and support employees’ professional development.

3. Employee Recognition and Rewards

Recognizing and rewarding employee contributions is essential for fostering motivation and engagement. Implement a recognition program that acknowledges outstanding performance, teamwork, and achievements. This can include verbal praise, written appreciation, or tangible rewards such as bonuses or incentives. Regularly celebrate milestones and accomplishments to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work.

4. Work-Life Balance and Well-being

Promote a healthy work-life balance and prioritize employee well-being. Offer flexible work arrangements when possible, such as remote work options or flexible scheduling. Encourage breaks and time off to prevent burnout. Provide resources and support for physical and mental well-being, such as access to wellness programs or employee assistance programs. Show genuine care and support for your employees’ overall well-being.

5. Foster a Collaborative and Inclusive Culture

Create a collaborative and inclusive culture that values diversity and fosters teamwork. Encourage open communication, idea sharing, and collaboration among employees. Foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included. Embrace diverse perspectives and leverage the unique strengths of your team members to drive innovation and growth.

Getting feedback on employees

6. Performance Management and Feedback

Establish a robust performance management system to set clear goals, provide regular feedback, and evaluate employee performance. Implement regular performance reviews to discuss progress, identify development areas, and set new objectives. Provide constructive feedback that focuses on both strengths and areas for improvement to support employee growth.

7. Empowerment and Autonomy

Encourage autonomy and empower employees to take ownership of their work. Delegate responsibilities and provide them with the necessary resources and authority to make decisions. Encourage innovation and creativity by allowing employees to explore new ideas and approaches. Trust their expertise and provide guidance when needed.

8. Career Growth and Advancement

Support your employees’ career growth and advancement within the organization. Provide opportunities for skill development, such as stretch assignments or cross-functional projects. Offer mentorship programs or coaching to help employees navigate their career paths. Create a clear path for advancement and communicate the potential growth opportunities available to them.

9. Team Building and Social Activities

Organize team-building activities and social events to foster strong relationships among your employees. This can include off-site retreats, team lunches, or recreational activities. Encourage team bonding and camaraderie to enhance collaboration and create a positive work culture.

10. Continuous Improvement

Establish a culture of continuous feedback and improvement. Encourage regular check-ins between managers and employees to discuss progress, challenges, and goals. Solicit feedback from employees on processes, policies, and workplace initiatives. Actively listen to their suggestions and make necessary improvements to enhance the work environment.

Employee management meeting


Effective employee management and engagement are critical for small businesses to thrive. By prioritizing clear communication, providing training and development opportunities, recognizing and rewarding employee contributions, promoting work-life balance and well-being, fostering a collaborative and inclusive culture, and implementing additional strategies such as performance management, empowerment, career growth, team building, and continuous feedback, small business owners can create a positive and engaging work environment.

Investing in your employees’ success and happiness not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall success and growth of your small business.

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Growing a Business

Secure your startup’s future by watching the big corporations



Welcome to Startups Weekly. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Saturday morning. Starting next week, it moves to Fridays at 12 pm PT.

As a startup founder, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could predict the future a little bit more than you currently do? It turns out you can: By paying close attention to what the behemoths in your space are doing. Last year’s AWS Re:Invent set the direction for a lot of what Amazon is doing this year — including where it invests. Re:Invent 2023 is coming up soon.

Google I/O revealed that Google is investing heavily in computational photography, large language models and all things AI. As a startup, you can use these data points and draw a line into the future: Can you align yourself with the big-picture trends? Are you missing anything?

This week, at Apple’s worldwide developer conference WWDC, the company took the wraps off its AR/VR headset. Priced at $3,500 it won’t be a commercial success, but as a startup, you’d be very silly not to pay attention: It is a complete game-changer for startups.

Startup valuations are taking a pounding

After a frothy few years of don’t-call-it-a-bubble, it seems like the inevitable market correction is here. We’ve seen wave after wave of tech layoffs, and it seems like investors are starting to take a more realistic view of their investments, starting to mark them down.

Marking down an investment doesn’t necessarily mean drama; it refers to the common process of adjusting the value of an investment asset to reflect its current market value. In the case of VC, that often happens if the valuation turned out to be a bit on the optimistic side. Investors will typically mark down investments to avoid overstating their portfolio’s worth. In a nutshell, it’s best practice to acknowledge potential losses before they are realized. That’s what is happening now — and perhaps should have been happening for a while, as Rebecca argued late last year, when she noticed that a bunch of startups had quietly marked down their own valuations.

Jeremy Abelson and Jacob Sonnenberg, both at Irving Investors, argue that if you haven’t yet, you probably won’t grow into your 2023 investment valuation.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Just in the past few weeks week, we had another handful of examples of this:

Life is a highway

The EV space is exploding (sometimes literally) at the moment, and there seems to be a huge amount of stuff in motion in the world of transportation.

Mercedes just got permission from the state of California to start selling a car that can self-drive without having to hold the wheel or look at the road. No doubt this’ll set Elon Musk’s little temperature gauge to “furious” as the company’s cars do attract a federal tax break but come up short on the self-driving front in its native California.

Price is often brought up as a major hurdle for EVs, but Volvo snuck out a small SUV that can cruise along for 275 miles and has a sub-$35,000 price tag. That still isn’t pocket change, but it’s a lot cheaper than a lot of the EVs on the road. Meanwhile, Fiat showed off a city vehicle it’s working on that made both Harri and myself squee with delight.

Safety is another theme across TechCrunch’s transportation coverage: Smarter cars should, in theory, mean safer roads. In practice, Waymo had to explain why one of its autonomous Jaguars ran down a dog in San Francisco last month, and Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a rule that means all new cars and trucks would need to have emergency systems that “would have to be capable of stopping and avoiding contact with a vehicle at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour.”

Remember what we said about legislation driving innovation and opportunities for startup? That proposed NHTSA rule falls into that category. Thought experiment: Could your company tap into that shift somehow?

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Apple sets the pace

While Apple isn’t really a startup, it is the world’s first $3 trillion market cap company, so in a week where our servers have been melting from all of the exciting news that came out of the WWDC keynote, I wanted to highlight some of the things that are most interesting to startups and startup founders.

One thing worth paying attention to is the Apple Design Awards, which often foreshadow large trends in design and user experience best practices — along with what the Cupertino-based software giant celebrates at the moment.

Another trend worth paying attention to from Apple is its focus on health and safety: It released a check-In feature to ensure people get home safe, a nudity filter to shield you from unsolicited real-life aubergine emoji and mental health mood tracking. All of that is specific to this WWDC, but it continues a trend: Fall detection, car crash detection, ECG to detect heart events, and lots of other health and safety indicators. It has made it easier to find and disable AirTags that might be used for stalking, and a Safety Check and lockdown mode, which takes your iPhone off the radar to get away from an abusive partner (more from our security team here).

As a startup, all of the above should give you pause for thought: There are big trends at play here that Apple clearly wants to continue to invest in. Apple has gone heavy into the privacy of your data, and leaning into security, safety, mental and physical health and more. Build something truly innovative in these spaces, and you have the world’s most valuable company validating that these are problems worth solving.

Image Credits: Apple

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