Learning to master time can make or break your business. In the early days of your business, you will have a lot to learn. As you fill orders, work with customers, the hours can fly by very quickly. You will quickly discover that there are not enough hours in a day to complete all of your to-dos.
Managing your time efficiently will help you to create order out of chaos. If the only thing you do is to wake up and simply start moving things around, you can easily let important things fall through the cracks. You’ll forget important jobs that need doing, you’ll forget orders, you’ll neglect to call back clients and you’ll definitely lose customer confidence.
Here are some easy tips to help you move through the space of time.
Have a plan in place.
Create a schedule. A lot of people view a schedule as a strait jacket. They think that having a schedule will hamper their freedom or their creativity. Quite the contrary! Having a schedule will help you with all those things.
How? It ensures that all your to-dos are covered (by you or by delegating them). It makes sure that all your fantastically important projects are getting done and that you won’t forget something really important.
I am a big fan of planning weekly. That way, I am sure that all my deadlines are met without me dying in the eyes of my customers.
If you do the same, when looking at the schedule, you can take stock of your time. You can figure out what needs to be done and how long it will take you. You can make trade-offs, i.e., if you do this on Monday then that will have to way until Tuesday to be done. It will also help in determining what is really important from what is merely urgent. Does that e-mail need to be answered right-this-minute?
And, don’t forget to plan for chaos! It is going to happen, no matter what your expectations are…so you might as well schedule time in your schedule for it. And when it does happen, make sure to revisit the schedule. Chances are that all your best laid plans have to be revised.
Are you in the habit of taking on too much in too little time? When new requests come in, or you get the next brilliant idea, you can look at your planner/calendar to see if you have the time to do it. Maybe it will help you realize that sometimes something needs to be turned down or deferred. It can be hard to do. But if you take a hard look at the priorities and commitments you already have, it may be the best thing that you can do for yourself.
Work on a Schedule
Some people own a business so they can sleep late and work whenever they want to.
That isn’t likely to happen. Nor is it a good practice.
If you are not there (at least at the beginning) no one is running your business. If no one is running it, how do you expect to make money which is, after all, why you have a business?
Sound too much like a J*O*B?
Maybe, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take a break to go for a walk or go to a networking event. It just means you are disciplined about running your business and you’ve built all of these activities into your schedule
Separate Family and Business Life
Did you open a business to spend more time with your family? You cannot run a business and take care of a sick child or parent. You will have to keep family time separate from business time in order to be effective at both.
If you have young children, make rules about when they can enter your office. Having boundaries as to when you can play with them will help them recognize that when you are on the phone is not the time to play hide-n-seek. Yes, there will be times when separation will be impossible: a child is sick, your babysitter does not show up, etc. But the child must respect that your office is not a playground.
Separating business and family is also a good way to help you get away from work. When you are done for the day, you can simply close the door and go spend time with your family. To emphasize the separation, it is important that your work area is a separate space if you live with anyone else. If your desk/computer are in an area that is accessible to the entire household, you will not be able to separate work and family easily. You do want a separate space where you can shut out the world when working and shut away work from your time when you are done with work.
If you have not set your priorities, you can end up spinning your wheels and not accomplish much of importance. You’ll be doing a lot of work but have nothing to show for it at the end of the day.
But what if in doing all that work you have forgotten to complete an important and time sensitive job? Had you made your implementation plan and scheduled your time, you certainly wouldn’t find yourself in that awful position.
So, for heaven’s sake, take a look at where you want to go, decide what projects will bring you closer and schedule the tasks you need to get done in your schedule, won’t you?