It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you wear multiple hats as a small business owner. On any given day, you might find yourself playing business strategist, marketer, HR manager, accountant and customer service rep. And that’s on top of completing client work or moving product off your shelves.

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Being pulled in several different directions like this could hurt your productivity if you’re not careful. According to a study by the University of California at Irvine titled “The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress,” it can take about 23 minutes to get back on task after being interrupted during the workday. So how can you effectively manage your time and maintain focus while juggling all these roles?

It can help to get meticulously organized, set firm routines and develop detailed processes for any task you need to perform repeatedly. Following are eight best practices for doing so.

Maximize Energy Peaks

Do the important, concentration-heavy, billable work when you’re most energized and alert. For many entrepreneurs and freelancers, this may mean morning to mid-afternoon. According to a report by project management software maker Redbooth and data content firm Pricenomics, for the average worker, productivity dips after lunch and takes a complete nosedive at 4 p.m.

Save less taxing tasks like replying to messages and invoicing for when you’re winding down late in the day. If you’re not sure when your energy peaks and dips during the workday, keep a log for a week. Note when you’re galloping through your to-do list vs. when you feel like you need a nap. Then adjust what tasks you perform when.

Track Your Time

Get clear on how long each task or type of project takes so that you can better estimate your time, create more accurate project bids and hire the right amount of subcontractors. Tools like Toggl and RescueTime make time tracking easy. Having a firmer grasp on how long each aspect of your work takes may not only boost your efficiency — it also may help increase your profit margin by ensuring you don’t undercharge clients for your time.

Automate Everything You Can

There seems to be an app or cloud-based service designed to speed up just about any business task you can think of these days. Instead of emailing back and forth to schedule calls, try a meeting booker like YouCanBookMe or Calendly. You also can automate contracts with a tool like DocuSign, invoices and accounts receivable with a tool like FreshBooks, client intake forms with a survey tool like SurveyMonkey and point-of-sale payments with a tool like Square.

Delegate as Much as Possible

Farm out the tasks you dread, those that don’t directly earn revenue and those that don’t fall under your area of expertise. Consider things like transcription, bookkeeping, website development, tax preparation and contract creation. If you’re unsure who to hire, ask trusted colleagues for their recommendations. The time you save and peace of mind you gain will be well worth the money spent.

Embrace Timed Sprints

Some projects are so daunting that we put off diving in far longer than we should. Breaking beefy projects into bite-sized pieces and using a timer can help cut through the inertia. The Pomodoro Technique is a longtime favorite of entrepreneurs and freelancers, especially those who wrestle with procrastination: using a timer, work for 25 minutes, followed by a 5-minute break away from your computer or workstation. Then rinse and repeat, taking a slightly longer break after every sprint, or “pomodoro.” Soon, that mountain of a project will seems more like a molehill.

Clock Out at the Same Time Each Day

Honor the law of diminishing returns and recognize that you might not accomplish much more than scrolling through Facebook after 7 to 9 work hours each day. To stay efficient and productive, replenish your personal well each evening and weekend. That means prioritizing recharge time and making self-care non-negotiable. It may also mean scheduling and committing to friends, family, exercise and hobby time just as you would client meetings.

Finish Each Week by Planning for the Next

Avoid heading into the next workweek without your priorities clearly delineated, lest you fall prey to merely reacting to the messages filling your inbox. Before you log out each Friday, create a to-do list for the following week. Task managers like and Things simplify the process and make revising lists on the fly a cinch as priorities change.

Take Time to Refine Your Infrastructure

It’s hard to be productive when you can’t find a key piece of information you need in that stack of papers covering your desk or you miss a critical client call because your digital calendar is on the fritz. Set aside a couple days once or twice a year to evaluate the systems, processes and tools you use to work more efficiently. When an app, program or process no longer serves you, update, tweak or replace it accordingly.

Entrepreneurship can be a chaotic endeavor. Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools and strategies you can use to optimize productivity. Find the ones that make the most sense for your business and put them to work. Then bask in your newfound sense of control and all the time you’ve saved.

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