Bet you don’t miss those weekly schedules. Meetings Monday morning at 9am, touch-base sessions on Wednesday at 4pm, the calendar quickly filling up with meetings at work that you wondered when you would get anything done.
Entrepreneurs are attempting the same feat: How do you allow enough time for product creation, customer service, networking, enrichment, research, and just plain goofing off? It is possible – and these hints will help:
- Start with the most important stuff – money-making tasks. You’ve heard the saying, “Pay yourself first.” The same goes for setting your schedule. Start by setting aside time for the activities that will add to your bottom line. That means product creation, partnership/affiliate efforts, and marketing. Sometimes, this is the stuff you don’t want to do, or that seems to be less pressing, so it falls to the bottom of the to-do list. But by slotting it in first, you will assure you don’t run out of time for this critical element.
- Don’t overbook yourself. We can be tempted to fill our schedule to the point where if anything goes wrong, it throws our whole day off. Build in buffers of time so you have the room to recover if things go awry. That could mean giving yourself an extra day to complete a report, or giving yourself an extra 15 minutes to get to your destination. If you don’t need the extra time, you can relax, catch up on reading, or return phone calls.
- Keep a running list of 15-minute tasks. Have a ready list of to-dos that take 15 minutes or less to complete, and when you find yourself between projects, knock a few of these off. They could be maintenance items, like filing papers or cleaning off your desk, or they could be research-related, like checking out a few blogs or reading an article.
- Protect your time. “Time vampires” will gladly suck away all your free time, if you let them. They’ll have you babysitting their chihuahua, listening to their boyfriend woes, and accompanying them to the home show to check out the latest and greatest improvements in fertilizer. The solution: Just say no! Sure, any one activity won’t take up too much of your time – but soon you’ll find yourself spending more time watering their plants or helping with their time sheet than you do on your own projects. Don’t let it happen by cutting it off early on.
- Review your day. At the end of the day, go back over your previous work hours. What was time well-spent? What felt critical in the moment but ended up being completely wasted or unimportant? Figure out what went right and what went wrong, and make adjustments for the next day.
Time is your most precious asset. Setting a schedule that supports your long- and short-term goals will help ensure you invest this precious resource wisely.
Remember that as an entrepreneur, your time is your paycheck. Tracking the time you spend on projects, even if they are billed as a flat fee will help you understand how long things really take. You may be underestimating your value. And for tasks that are billed hourly, you should be providing a breakdown for your client – or at least have it available if they ask.
Time management programs: