Time management working from home is (as always) at the forefront of my life.
I'm just back from a super holiday in Spain with my son, need to catch up, need a quick blog post…. Hurry, hurry, forgotten all about the holiday!
So I am indebted to MyTasker.com for use of their brilliant infographic, and the basis of this week's post.
What Is Time Management?
Time management includes all of the following:
- Setting your overall goals and objectives
- Setting sub-goals with deadlines for each stage
- Planning and organizing the resources available
- Prioritizing each activity
- Allocating time in the most productive way
- Delegation, if that is the most efficient way to achieve a result
Good time management improves your performance, with benefits such as:
- Better productivity and efficiency
- Improved professional reputation
- Reducing stress
- More chance of advancement
But this takes planning, especially when you're a home-based entrepreneur.
Time Management Working From Home
Here are the tips from the infographic below – and how I implement them in my own online business.
Have A Positive Approach
Time challenges and pressure of work can stress out any home-based entrepreneur..
Some time management tips and tricks that may help are
- Simplify your methods
- Focus on making good decisions
- Look on the bright side of your business plans
- Don’t stress about issues outside your control
- Don’t worry about failing, keep believing in yourself
- There will always be failures – just remember to learn from your mistakes
Keeping a positive outlook stops you wasting time worrying about what you can't control.
I tend to be an “over-thinker”, so this is a tough one for me, but my watch-phrase is “I am where I am”.
We're all familiar with setting goals according to the formula that a goal must be:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Timely
With unattainable goals you'll quickly become disillusioned.
Rather than thinking “I want an annual six-figure income in five years time” it's more realistic to focus on your first $100 month, then your first $1,000 month and so on. Accept that at the outset even covering your costs may be the first goal to achieve!
“Creativity thrives on chaos!” Or does it??
This is a big problem for me! I have too many plans and it's easy to get overwhelmed learning one new technique after another.
The basics to focus on are
- Weekly goals (I add my daily tasks to Google Calendar and move forward what isn't achieved)
- Keep checking that these are still important for the overall goal
- Store important documents where they can be found
- Record contact details and notes where they're easily accessible (I use Google Contacts)
- Have a clear-out every so often. It was very liberating to send five boxes of books I will never re-read to the charity shop!
Having everything in the right place can be a real time-saver.
Of course, it's not a one-time effort – set up your systems and keep them that way.
Stop juggling all the balls in the air at once!
CAPTURE your ideas on the computer … all of them!
Then schedule how you will action each step. Although many talk about scheduling a specific time of the day to work on specific things I struggle with this as my offline business means I am often interrupted by fee-paying clients, who always take priority, or someone has let me down with something I need to move on to the next step. So I am often left with several half-done tasks
To juggle everything in my head I use Google Calendar, as mentioned above.
Other useful apps are – Schedule Once, Checkmark, Streaks.
That way, you free up your time for thinking, not remembering!
Prioritize Your Tasks
Ok, let’s say you’ve got a ‘to-do’ list now… you'll no doubt realise that a solopreneur’s workload is enormous.
Don’t get stressed if it gets too heavy to be handled properly. Prioritizing is the key to staying focused. When you know your personal and professional requirements you can plan accordingly.
Just ask – “Is this taking me closer to my goals?” and if it isn't, postpone it in favor of a more important task.
My personal example of this is that I always prioritize my paying clients over my part-time blogging, simply because I receive a guaranteed hourly rate from my offline, paying, clients.
Focus on The Task at Hand
I'm an incorrigible multi-tasker – but in my heart of hearts I know it's not the best way to work
The more I switch between tasks, the bigger chances are that I'll end up making a blunder. And of course there's bound to be time wasted switching my brain from one task to the next.
A better approach is:
- Allocate time separately for each task
- Avoid switching between multiple tasks
- Begin a new task after accomplishing the one in hand
Once you have set your priority, you can focus on finishing each task.
Delegate to the Experts
Before adding any task to your own schedule, ask yourself :
- ‘Do I need to perform this on my own?’
- ‘Am I the best person to do the job, or could someone else do it more efficiently / better?'
If the answer is “NO,” feel free to delegate it.
When it comes to saving your time and energy, you need to learn the art of delegating. A proficient assistant can help you with –
- Routine activities
- Organizing business files
- Setting up business appointments
- Raising invoices and paying bills
- Drafting messages
With the right people helping you, you’ve nothing to worry about. A proficient assistant can boost your productivity and reduce your stress, both of which are invaluable.
The most successful examples from my own business were finding someone to help design PowerPoint presentations and someone else to produce good quality graphics.
Perform a Time Audit
When you’re super busy, every spare minute counts!
You may think everything is getting done within the specified time, but it’s important to document how the time is actually getting used. All too often, business owners spin their wheels randomly and end up wasting their precious time without any positive result.
Be aware of it!
A time audit can give a better idea of how to manage your time effectively for each task. Although it has the term ‘audit’ in its name, it’s not as difficult as you may think because you can use time tracking software for a better understanding of how to modify your working procedures.
Be honest with yourself. While the time software may show that you're doing “social media management”, are you sure you're not just watching cute dog videos?
Analyze Your Processes More Closely
You've thought about “the big picture”, but have you examined the processes well enough? Have you asked yourself:
- Are my business strategies creative enough?
- Do I have access to the capital I’ll need to succeed?
- Are there holes in my marketing strategy?
- How can I get an edge over my competitors?
- Is this the right time for me to expand my business?
- What structure would best suit my business?
- What do I need to start doing, keep doing, and (maybe more importantly) stop doing?
It's a good idea to document these ideas for future reference, or in case you need to justify a loan to finance growth.
Entrepreneurs should constantly learn from others more successful than they are, so they can learn skills in the fields of marketing, design and technology.
I manage this by attending local business groups where we talk face-to-face. Often a more experienced entrepreneur has already surmounted a challenge I'm having – or knows someone who can help.
Tackle Difficult Tasks at Your Peak
If you postpone the worst tasks, you may get stressed about them and keep postponing them. It’s good to bite the bullet and tackle the toughest challenge first.
When procrastinating, you worry and just become increasingly frustrated, angry or demotivated. Admitting how you feel is the first step in developing your emotional strength.
By performing the hardest task at your peak performance time, you will get the best results. Note that everyone has their own peak performance time. Some people work best in the early morning. Personally I'm a night person, and prefer to settle down to work when the distractions of the day are over. It's getting on for midnight as I write this!
If you're really dreading a task, break it down into several smaller steps. You could reward yourself for mini-goals accomplished and then you may actually enjoy the process. It's actually good practice to get up from your desk and walk about at least every hour.
Reconnect with Your “Why”
Sometimes you just put your head down and focus with too much intensity, forgetting everything else. In these moments, reconnect with your “why”.
Successful business leaders revisit their original ideas – why they are doing what they do. So, when you have doubts about whether a particular task is worth your time, ask yourself how it advances your why.
Make Better Initial Decisions
One of the most important ways to save time is to make good initial decisions. Otherwise you can end up redoing tasks over and over again.
My worst initial decision as a part-time blogger was to self-teach myself how to install WordPress, rather than spend a few dollars getting it done for me. The result was that as my knowledge improved I kept having to go back and improve poor start-up procedures.
I should have made sure I had a better understanding of blogging than I did as a beginner. However, going forward I was able to use previously learned lessons for better results.
Nevertheless, if I had known then what I know now, I would have done “things” differently. I would certainly have out-sourced more of the tasks I'm not good at, dislike, or should only have to do once.
Get an Early Start
“The early bird gets the worm.”
According to the experts, most people work at their optimum performance level in the morning. Studies have shown that those who wake up early are more productive.
Start your day earlier than everyone else. By waking before the rest of the world, you get more time to plan your day in advance. Get a head start on some tasks that may be looming over your head.
Sadly this one doesn't work for me, as previously explained and I function much better when the rest of the world is thinking about going to bed. Certainly, when I was a working Mum with kids to get off to school, the idea of settling down to work with that job hanging over me was a non-starter. Also, being in the UK, my late night work makes it easier to network with USA counterparts.
Entrepreneurs are naturally ambitious people. They try to make the most of their day. But they are also human beings and can get distracted by trying to tackle too much at once.
To cut out distractions and supercharge your focus try the following:
- Switch off social media
- Switch off the phone when you need to concentrate
- Put a “do not disturb” sign on the door
- Set aside time for meditation and exercise
- Don't get over-stressed. Without proper stress management, you can get distracted by worries.
Successful people know how to handle pressure.
Take care of your ability to concentrate and work well. Don’t let other people dictate how you spend your day.
Eliminate the Non-Essential
Employ the 80/20 rule – focus on the tasks that will generate the most significant results. As an entrepreneur, try to understand that 20 percent of your actions / customers will account for 80 percent of your income.
Getting caught up by non-essentials waste time and causes failure. Be “productive” rather than being just “busy”.
- Make sure all of your communications are to the point and concise. I know of someone who still dictates his emails to a secretary rather than just hammering them out himself! What a waste of time.
- Before scheduling any meeting, think twice whether you need it. Can it be a Skype call, to save travel time? Plan what you're going to say, before you meet.
Take Time to Pause and Think
As an entrepreneur, you tend to move rapidly from one thing to the next, without even a pause for breath.
But STOP and take some free time to think about the right ways of doing things.
We've seen that the key is to be more productive, which only happens with forethought and planning.
To allow for this, build unfilled time into your weekly schedule. Use this period to do nothing other than exploring and thinking.
This is a good way to de-clutter your brain.
It’s All About Mind Management
So, we've looked at several time management tips and tricks, but I've saved the best to the last.
Stop thinking about it as “time management”!
Time management is all about mind management. Once you start to take control of your thoughts, everything seems easier.
Often it’s not time that needs better managing, rather, it’s us.
If you’re passionate about your work and enjoy the challenges it brings, you’ll solve them and “make it happen”.
It's a whole different ball-game when you start looking at everything on your “to-do list” as a series of choices. Eventually, you’ll realize that the potential was inside you all the time.
Conclusion and Infographic
The skill is to have the ability to organize your workflow and manage time accordingly. With the above time management tips for entrepreneurs, you’re all set to meet your goals!
Here's the infographic for you to bookmark, or print out as a reminder.
Which tips did you find most helpful? Please share in the comments below.
Thanks again to http://mytasker.com/ for tips on time Management working from home. Please comment below to share your own experiences.