The holiday season has passed and the excitement of New Year Resolutions is starting to wane. Right around this time of year, your to-do list is growing but there just isn’t enough time in the day. And as a small business owner you might be scrambling to meet your New Year business goals but neglecting to plan ahead for the best way to reach those goals.

Make this your year to use every minute of your time wisely, but don’t let the growing to-do list overwhelm you. Here are some simple tips to stay on top of your schedule and maximize productivity while keeping your business goals in mind.

1. Create a block schedule.

It can be discouraging to look at a to-do list that just keeps growing, one line after the next. The simple act of creating a block schedule can make a seemingly impossible workload much more manageable. Block out all your essential or routine tasks for the day, like sending emails, checking a social media account or posting to a blog. Reserve some time to chip away at long-term projects, a little bit at a time, and don’t forget to allow yourself some mental breaks.

2. Set aside time to plan for the future.

Carrying out day-to-day responsibilities is what keeps your business running. Taking periodic breaks from those responsibilities to plan for the future is what keeps your business growing, even when it seems counterproductive. Designate a day of the week or an hour each day to reflect on what is and is not working with your business model and what you might change going forward. How can you improve the quality of your goods and services? How can you market to your ideal customers in more impactful ways?.

3. Unplug!

Most businesses revolve around the internet these days. You’re probably checking emails, messages, social media notifications, online invoices, etc. for a large part of your day and this isn’t a bad thing! But every once in awhile, set aside the phones and laptops. Eliminate distractions and devote your full mental energies to crafting a plan of action for the next day, week, or year.

4. Take advantage of online scheduling tools.

Scrounging together meeting details from emails, voicemails, notes you jotted down, just doesn’t work in the long run. Thankfully, online scheduling tools like Calendly and Acuity exist to simplify your life by allowing you to contact team members, set up company meetings, and schedule appointments with customers through a single platform. And if you’ve created a block schedule through Google, Outlook, or iCloud calendar, for example, Calendly and Acuity will make sure you’re never double-booked.

Following these four steps will help you to cut down on stress and maximize productivity as the holiday season approaches. But if you’re not sure you can budget any time for maintaining your schedule and planning for the future of your business, it may be time to outsource.

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