A report from the Federation of Small Businesses shows that 66% of small-business owners work more than 48 hours per week, and that finding a good balance between work and the rest of their lives was the biggest issue facing their business. So what’s going wrong?

It’s one thing to manage employees, but it’s another thing altogether to manage your own work habits. If you’re struggling with time management and self-discipline, here are our top tips:

1. Have a clear intention

From the minute you start your business, set an intention. Similar to a strap line, but for internal use, this will help you to focus your thoughts and stay motivated. Write your intention out and post it on the wall near your desk so that you are constantly reminded of why you are doing what you do. If you have to make a decision about which work to prioritise, refer back to your intention and ask yourself which course of action is going to better move you towards that goal.

2. Create daily or weekly intentions

Once you have your main business intention set, start each week or each day with a smaller intention. Ask yourself, if there is one thing I really want to achieve this week, what is it? Perhaps you want to write a funding proposal, or perhaps you want to save on outgoing costs with some clever business energy solutions. Whatever your intention, writing it down will help you to focus. Make sure your goal is realistic. If the task is too big, break it down into more manageable and realistic chunks.

3. The 4am wake up is a warning sign

Setting up a new business is stressful. If you find yourself waking up in the night thinking of things you need to do, it’s a sign that you need to reduce your stress levels and take control. Make clear to-do lists so that you don’t feel you have to remember everything. If you’re still feeling stressed then take some luxurious ‘you’ time. Make a date with yourself to go to the cinema in the middle of the day, or have a family day out. Put it in your diary and treat it like a client meeting. It’s sacred; don’t be tempted to short change yourself by re-arranging.

5. Seek feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from clients or even suppliers and business partners. Take all feedback on board, look for consistencies and think about how you can improve. Aim high and set yourself personal goals alongside the business goals. Just because you’re not in a larger organisation it doesn’t mean you have to stop training up and growing your own skills.

6. Understand your time

It might be boring, but keeping a time log can really help you to understand what activities are taking up most of your working hours. You might be surprised by the answer. If something is taking a disproportionate amount of time, consider outsourcing or streamlining your systems.

Have you found any self-management tips useful in your business? Share them with us on LinkedIn or G+.

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