When you go into business for yourself there are many challenges you prepare yourself for. You know that you need to be financially prepared. You know that you need to market your business and are ready to face those challenges. However, one challenge that is often overlooked is the simple but always present time management challenge. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with the tasks and responsibilities of any given day that nothing gets accomplished.
Here are seven time management tips for the self-employed…
#1 Multi-tasking isn’t an option. Multi-tasking is one of the most ineffective ways to accomplish anything. Rather than focusing on completing one task, your attention is divided and it actually takes you longer to complete anything. And quite often the results aren’t as stellar as they would have been if you’d simply focused on the single task.
#2 Schedule everything. Schedule time to work, time to play, time to network, time to plan and time to check email or make phone calls. Scheduling your time forces you to focus on the task at hand. It also helps to prevent distraction.
#3 Make a to do list at the end of each day for the next day and prioritize it. Put the most important task at the top of the list. Creating the following day’s to do list at the end of each day, allows you to clear your head and relax the rest of the evening. It actually reduces your stress and you can go to bed knowing tomorrow is in order and you’ll be productive.
#4 Schedule your tasks around your body clock. This may sound strange because we’re taught to tackle our task list from the top down. However, that doesn’t always work for our personalities and habits.
For example, if you’re a night owl and getting up in the morning is rough, the last thing you want to do is schedule an important business call for first thing in the morning. Save that slow wake-up time to check email, do a little social networking and so on. Schedule the important business call for after you’ve had lunch and your brain and body are in prime working order.
#5 Make sure you’re firm with your friends and family. When people work from home, it’s easy for friends and family to get too comfortable. You can be in your office… focused on the task at hand and your spouse will walk in and want to have a discussion about what to have for dinner next week when the Smiths come over. You have to set boundaries and stick to them. This focused working time, this uninterrupted working time, will help you be productive, leaving you time to spend with your family later.
#6 Use your resources. There are more time management tools available than you’ll ever have time to explore. You don’t have to use all of them, but certainly some of them will make you more productive. Whether it’s Outlook, Google calendar, your PDA, or a paper calendar and your favorite pencil, develop a system of staying organized and use it.
#7 Take time away. This may sound contradictory; however, in order to remain productive during your work time you have to play some too. If you don’t, burnout will certainly ensue and you’ll move at a slower pace than a two year old that’s been ordered to eat their vegetables. Take time to play and you’ll feel refreshed and energized, ready to go back to work!
Time management isn’t tricky but it does take a plan, some patience and certainly fortitude. You’re an entrepreneur so you definitely have what it takes to get it done. Create a plan, use your resources and make it happen.
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