time management

  • Overcoming Time Management Obstacles in Easy Steps

    Time management can be the single biggest challenge to working from home and being a successful entrepreneur. Learning to overcome these obstacles can be the key to managing and leading a successful business.

    What are time management obstacles and what causes them? Many things cause time management obstacles including:

    1. Perfectionism – Many people use perfectionism as a crutch; a way to stay busy doing what they know how to do and to let the rest slide. For example, you’re a skilled writer but detest accounting, which means you spend days on a sales letter and your books are so messed up you don’t know who owes you what or how much money you’re making or losing.

    2. Procrastination – This happens for a number of reasons. If you’re facing burnout, then you’ll likely feel like avoiding anything related to your business. However, if you’re facing a task you don’t want to do it’s much easier to procrastinate.

    3. An inability to say no – Guess what; not only should you not be doing everything – you can’t! And if you try to, something’s going to give. You’re not going to be able to devote your full attention to your business-related tasks, they’ll suffer and your bottom line will suffer.

    4. Lack of planning – It’s easy to become caught up in tasks like

    * Social networking
    * Email
    * Phone calls
    * Checking stats and website analytics (This is important but you don’t need to obsessively watch the numbers)
    * Surfing the net, reading blogs and industry information

    One quick email check can turn into a full hour of back and forth email correspondence and before you know it, your entire schedule is off for the day. Planning, and sticking to your plan, helps you stay on track.

    To overcome time management obstacles, consider these four steps:

    #1 – What’s stopping you?

    Look at what’s holding you up. Is it procrastination? Perfection? A lack of planning? What’s getting in your way?

    #2 – Prioritize and set goals

    Prioritizing and goal setting are two very important components of time management. Goal setting is easiest to accomplish when you set a goal that is attainable and measurable and when you break it down into smaller manageable goals.

    Creating a task list is another item that, as strange as it may sound, needs to become a scheduled part of your day and your week. You’ll want to spend a bit of time prior to Monday morning creating a list of tasks and goals for the upcoming week. Keep in mind that some days may be set aside as planning days, days off or meeting days.

    #3 – Schedule your day, week and month

    Make sure you have time to accomplish the goals, tasks and priorities you’ve established. Set aside the time you need by planning your days, weeks, and even your month out.

    To make this process easier, and to lighten your load, there are time management tools like a PDA, desktop scheduling software and the good old fashioned paper calendar, which can help you establish and maintain time management success.

    #4 – Get help

    Finally, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, it may be time to seek outside help. Consider hiring someone to manage the tasks that seem to get in the way. Often these are the administrative tasks. You can outsource them to a virtual assistant to lighten the load. You can also hire a housekeeper if daily chores are a distraction from your business. And don’t forget about technology. Many tasks can be automated.

    Overcoming your time management obstacles is easy when you are able to acknowledge what they are and why they exist. From there it’s merely a process of planning how to overcome them and using the right tools to get the job done.

  • Spring Cleaning Your Schedule

    Keeping track of everything you need to do can be daunting – and sometimes overwhelming! There is a lot of hype out there about what works best, what the hottest product is, etc. Don’t get consumed by this hype!

    The fact is, everyone has a different personality, and if you are trying to use a system that works against your personality, it just isn’t going to work. Period.

    Some people are paper people – they just need to write things down.

    Some people work better with electronic gizmos, and work well with Google Calendar, smartphones, etc.

    Personally, I like paper – and color.  Writing things down on paper and highlighting the tasks into different color categories works well for me. But I know that there are other people who wouldn’t like that system at all.

    When it comes to organizing your schedule, go with your gut. What feels right to you? If your current system feels like it is ‘missing something’ – maybe it is! Don’t force yourself to keep using it. Explore your options and go with what works good for you!

    Are you ready to dig in and really clean up your biz? If so, you will want to sign up for my De-Clutter Your Biz Program! This 6 week session will help you analyze your business, get rid of what isn’t working, re-energize what is working, build upon it, and help you create long-term goals. You will feel focused and ready to move forward!

    The program starts March 22, and for a limited time, I am offering HALF OFF the regular price! Click here for more information & to register!

  • The 20 Minute Mistake

    One teeny, tiny little thing you may do many times a day can be robbing your business of it’s most valuable asset – your focus.

    In today’s world, focus is a fleeting thing. We zip from one thing to the next, often multitasking like maniacs. We’re watching TV while checking in with friends on Twitter and Facebook. We are checking our email while standing in line at the grocery store. We are busy and multitasking has become a way of life. Actually it has become THE way of life.

    Sometimes, we need to turn off the multitasking and focus on our biz. And it is hard, because we are so used to multitasking, it has become ingrained into our work habits. We need to consciously try and turn off all of the noise and focus.

    In a short little paragraph in the October issue of Real Simple magazine, it says that women on average spend 20 minutes trying to get their focus back after being distracted by email. 20 whole minutes. One third of an hour. Wow.

    How many times a day do you check your email? I check mine about 40 kajillion* times, which means I am distracted up to 800 zillion* minutes (*numbers may not be accurate) in one day. I know that I lose focus for more than 20 minutes a day for sure.  Are you making the 20 minute mistake too?

    I have read suggestions of ways to avoid this problem such as:

    • turn off any noises or notifiers that you have new email
    • only allow yourself to check email at scheduled intervals
    • use a program that blocks access to certain programs
    • only check email a few times a week
    • have your VA check your email for you and eliminate the unnecessary ones

    I have tried the first three, but I do not have enough willpower to only check a few times a day. In fact I have checked my email 7 times in the time it has taken me to write this post. SEVEN! Yes, I have a problem. I tried a program to block gmail, but it blocked all of google, and I often need that helpful little site 😉 Checking email a few times a week is for someone far more zen than me and I long for the day I have a VA.

    I am going to strive to eliminate the 20 minute mistake from my work life, by keeping gmail open in another browser window when I am checking email and then shutting it down while I am focusing on a task.

    Do you make the 20 minute mistake? What can you do to help get it under control? Do you think eliminating the mistake will impact your indie biz?

  • How To Squeeze More Time Into Your Day

    Gain more time in a day?  Sounds like an impossibility, right?  Yes and no.  There are definitely tricks and strategies to getting more out of each and every day.  Here’s how:

    #1 Organize! Time searching for things is wasted time.  Utilize task lists, time tracking software and calendars, however only utilize them to the point theyíre saving you time by keeping you organized.  If it takes you three hours to set up your day on a software program that’s 2 hours and 55 minutes wasted.

    #2  Multi task when appropriate. Have phone calls to make and chores to do?  Grab a headset, clip the phone at your waste and get busy.  Clients and business prospects probably don’t want to hear dishes being loaded into your dishwasher but your sister probably won’t mind.

    #3  Watch less TV. “American children and adolescents spend 22 to 28 hours per week viewing television, more than any other activity except sleeping. By the age of 70 they will have spent 7 to 10 years of their lives watching TV.” — The Kaiser Family Foundation.  Imagine what you could do with those 22 hours!  That’s another complete day.

    #4  Spend less time aimlessly browsing the internet. Like television, the internet absorbs many hours. Set aside specific internet browsing time ñ if you need to shop online then shop online, if you need to read email set aside time each day to read email, if you need to learn or participate in social marketing set time aside to take care of it.

    #5  Ask for help. Yes, partners, spouses and children can only do so much however they can help.  Make Sunday afternoons make-ahead day and create and freeze five meals for the week.  Have children help and make it a family activity.  Now, rather than spending 30 minutes at the drive through or an hour making dinner, all you have to do is pull it out of the freezer and pop it in the oven.  Voila! – time saved and healthy home made food on the table.

    #6  Wake up 30 minutes earlier every day – or if you’re a night owl go to bed 30 minutes later.  Use that extra 30 minutes to plan your day and get organized.

    #7  Prioritize tasks and focus on them. Yes, earlier multi tasking was mentioned as a way to save time however many tasks are accomplished much more quickly and efficiently when you can focus on them independently.   Walking the dog and calling your mother who you haven’t talked to in a month is certainly two tasks which can be combined however paying bills, writing that report, or reading an important document for your presentation tomorrow are best accomplished with focused attention.

    #8  Simplify. Taking clothes to the dry cleaner saves time ironing.  Running around your neighborhood saves time driving to the local gym.  Instead of making pancakes or waffles every morning, make them for the week and pop them in the freezer or substitute cereal once in a while.  Set your coffee pot to brew right when you wake up rather than waiting in line at your local coffee shop.  Small steps to simplify your life not only save time – they are often less expensive.  Go to the grocery store with recipes and a list – this will mean you don’t have to run to the grocery every day to pick up dinner and planning and shopping for meals often means healthier dinners and a less expensive grocery bill.

    #9  Do fewer chores. Seriously.  The house doesn’t need to be spotless.  A good routine and some simple organization will reduce clutter.  Set time aside, recruit help, and clean once a week.  The day to day stuff can be minimized with organization.  If possible – let it go and simply hire a maid.

    #10  Create wind down time or personal time. Too much scheduling and work often results in procrastinating and a lack of interest in the task at hand.  Don’t forget to have fun.  Schedule days off or time off so you can relax and simply enjoy the things you like to do.  It’ll make the time you need to spend working much more efficient.

    Now you have all this extra free time, what are you going to do with it?  The options are endless.  Enjoy more time with your family, devote more time to your favorite hobby or pastime, or the inevitable – fill it up with more tasks.