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  • Writer's pictureGrace Pillsbury

Get OFF the Roller Coaster & Transform Your Time Management

Have you ever sat down to work on something and felt like someone was pulling your fingernails out and time is frozen the entire time?

Or maybe you have a burst of motivation and think “I’m going to get SO much done today!” only to struggle to focus, get frustrated throughout the whole process, and walk away wondering what happened.

This exhausting productivity roller coaster is one of the most annoying parts of being self-employed. The grumpiness and bitterness that happens when you *hate* working on certain areas of your own business can really wear on you and cause you to question “am I doing something wrong?”

I can tell you what is happening on this roller coaster - and how to get off of it!

The reason for your fingernail-extracting, attention-lacking, grumpiness-inducing work sessions is that you’re not doing the tasks you’re really supposed to be doing.

What do I mean by that? Well, let me explain it to ya.

After all, when you’re self-employed, aren’t you supposed to do . . . everything? That’s what we’ve been told, anyway. Being your own boss, owning a business, side-hustling - whatever - you’re told that you better be ready to WORK! Be ready to DO IT ALL!

I disagree.

According to a business-y, smart people survey done on company executives, it was found that execs spend an average of 23 hours per week on tasks that could be delegated or outsourced. This indicates that by outsourcing these tasks, they could free up almost a full day each week to focus on tasks that they are truly good at.

time management for small business owners

So, yeah. That’s my point. But, this is another tangent for another blog for another day ;)

Anyway - back to what we should be doing to avoid all the horrors we described above! We love a practical solution backed by a bit of education.

The official terminology for what I’m talking about is knowing your “Highest Returning Tasks” or “High Returning Activities” (for this blog post, we’ll say HRTs). When you know your HRTs, your time management and productivity are truly transformed. I know it sounds dramatic, but it's true.

So, what is a “High Returning Task”? Let’s break it down!

High-returning tasks or high-returning activities are the jobs that really allow you to get the most return on your time. These tasks put your best skills to work at the optimal times, and really boost the productivity but also profit margins of your business.

what are highest returning tasks?

Learning your HRTs and intentionally planning your workflow and to-do lists around them can really help you get more out of your time and avoid some of the frustration. But, how do you identify what a high-returning task is for you?? Well, I have made a list of criteria and some questions you can ask yourself that just might help you figure it out!

One of the places I like to start with female entrepreneurs is identifying the tasks that are sucking the life out of you. It’s usually easy to pinpoint the things you hate doing, so we start with that list and then go from there.

Step #1: Make a list of tasks or responsibilities that you tend to dread, procrastinate, or do half-heartedly

This list will be a great starting point to figure out what your best tasks are, but will also be a starting point when its time to discuss outsourcing. One of the most common questions small business owners ask when considering outsourcing is “But what should I spend money on outsourcing first?” This list will be your cheat sheet.

Step #2: Make a list of activities that you truly enjoy, feel gifted at, and could do “all day, every day”.

These are likely your highest returning tasks! Congratulations!

Step #3: Figure out what time of the day and week you are at your best and do your best work.

Working at the wrong times is one of the biggest pitfalls of entrepreneurship and owning your own business. Boundaries and schedules can easily blend together, leaving you with a jumbled calendar of work, personal, and business-related jobs happening in any random order! No good.

When you can say “I am best at creating in the morning, so I’m only going to do creative tasks before 1 pm”, you’ll see a true change in your output.

Step #4: Prioritize your HRTs and do them at your best times!

This is where the two good things we figured out will converge to help you get the most out of your time. This is the type of time planning that can really impact your business’s bottom line.

But wait - what about everything else?? This is where you will have to take a look at your own individual business and the specifics of what you’ve got going on. Some people have the budget to outsource right away, and some people have to work for years to have the margin for that! It’s okay. Whatever season your business is in, time management is super helpful and important.

If you notice that your time is disproportionately taken up with menial tasks, but the room isn’t in the budget, I encourage you to get creative about handing off those tasks ASAP. Even if you aren’t sure of it, I guarantee you that this is affecting your profits and the health of your business.

A study done by Small Business Trends found that outsourcing admin and other routine tasks could save small business owners up to 40% of their working hours each week! This could allow them to focus on growing their business and achieving their goals, rather than getting bogged down in menial tasks.

After learning about your highest returning tasks and the jobs that are really bogging you down, it should be easier to plan your workflow so you can make the most out of your time working.

Time blocking, protecting those “best” times of the day, can transform the end product of your work.

Making sure you prioritize outsourcing the life-sucking jobs will free up your energy and time for growing your business.

improve your time management with these tips

manage your time well with highest returning tasks

This principle of channeling your best efforts and best time into your highest returning activities will completely transform your business and help you reach the goals that have been lurking out in front of you!

If you are looking for support and guidance on this process of re-working how you spend your time, it is often easier when you have someone to empower you along the way. Plus, accountability will lead to better results. One-on-one coaching is a great way to get that guidance and accountability for developing yourself and your business.

For more resources and information about time management and time blocking, check out these awesome sources:



Asana (this is what we use at Wild Ellis)

Grace Pillz is an entrepreneur coach based in northeast Florida. Her clients get the benefits of a mentor who has run a small business and knows what it feels like to be on an entrepreneurship and small business journey. Her coaching clients are challenged to grow as individuals, professionals, and business owners.

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