Time management isn’t easy for any business owner, let alone one with a demanding job and an active social life. Working a full-time job, taking care of family, running a small business, and maintaining a personal life all require significant amounts of self-discipline.

However, the more businesses you own the more difficult time management becomes. Small business owners have even less time than their counterparts who operate large corporations. Time is a precious resource that must be allocated carefully in order to achieve your goals as efficiently as possible. Here are 5 simple steps to help you manage your time effectively as an owner or manager of any small business:

Plan your day the night before

First, look at the day ahead to identify any gaps in your schedule. When you have a few hours free, try to identify at least three things that you could be doing in order to make progress towards your goals for the day. It could be a phone call you could make, a meeting you could attend, or a small task you could complete.

Once you’ve identified these three things, consider which of these will be the most beneficial to your business. For example, a high-priority client call can be very beneficial in helping you make progress on other tasks that are less urgent. However, leaving the meeting early could reduce the amount of revenue you’ll make that day.

Set up your computer to take you to work

In order to be as productive as possible when working, you need to make sure that your work environment is conducive to being productive. You need your computer to be clean, your workspace to be organized, and your environment to be as quiet as possible. If you have a cubicle, you may want to get a desk that is conducive to being productive.

For example, a desk with a keyboard placed at a 45 degree angle is much more conducive to productivity than a desk with a keyboard positioned flat on the table or even against the wall. As far as your computer goes, you want a computer that has the Core components that you need in order to be productive. Specifically, you want a computer with:

Don’t email after hours

If your business email account is hosted on your computer, then you should set up email filters to automatically block email at night. This is especially important if you also manage your business social media accounts. Many social media platforms have email addresses associated with them. If you don’t filter out your business email at night, then you risk sending out inappropriate or irrelevant business emails in the morning.

Use calendar apps for scheduling and tracking tasks

While a popular calendar app like Google Calendar or Apple Calendar is probably sitting on your computer, you may not be using it to its maximum potential. Many business owners use their computer’s calendar app to schedule meetings and keep track of tasks. However, these apps are also great for keeping track of your daily schedule, tracking your daily and weekly hours, and tracking your vacation time. If you haven’t used these apps to their full potential, then now is the time to do so.

Organize your files with an organization system

Some business owners find that their documents are scattered all over their computer. If this is the case, then you need to find an organization system to help you get organized. There are many fantastic options available online or in the office supply section of your local big-box store. The most important thing is that the system you choose is simple, efficient, and will fit your working style and needs.

Make a to-do list for each day and slot them into specific times of day

If you’ve taken the time to set up a great work environment and use the best possible apps for your computer, then it’s time to take advantage of them and make a to-do list for each day and slot them into specific times of day. At the beginning of each day, look at your to-do list and determine which items you can slot into specific times of day. For example, if you have a client meeting at 9:00 AM that you hope to slot into your lunch break, then you should schedule your to-do list accordingly.

An important and effective time management strategy for small business owners is to create a daily to-do list and then prioritize them according to their value and importance to your business. By using this strategy, you can ensure that you are getting your most important tasks completed while simultaneously eliminating the distractions that prevent you from being productive throughout the day. Throughout your day, always keep the long-term goals of your business in mind and ensure that you are prioritizing tasks that move you closer to achieving those goals.