It is usual for me to publish my articles in blocks of twelve, however listening to comments which I have received regarding doing articles in greater depth have decided to write a few standalone articles. This is the second one, managing your time effectively.
I see a lot of articles and comments on time management, in fact I even have the outline of a E Book which I hope to finish and eventually publish one day.
Some of the content here is in fact taken from some of my notes which I have drafted in readiness to compiling the book, might even use the same title as here.
Creating a Time Management Plan
It has been said by me many times that you need a plan, or use a planner, believe this to be very true if you wish to be successful. The idea of a time management plan is to stop you from wasting your valuable time, if you know what you are supposed to do at a particular time or part of the day, it will make you not only carry out what you had planned to do, but it will make you far more efficient and organised.
Be aware of what your body likes, here I do not mean a cup of coffee and a cream cake, rather when do you cope best. My own preferences are in the morning and evening, not good at all in the afternoon. Remember when I used to teach new sales staff making them write this down:
- Gold Time – When they perform best
- Silver Time – When they are not quite at their best
- Bronze Time – When they are definitely not, anywhere near their best
They were then made to use this to plan their diaries, it might be that some days that gold time was at a different time of day, say a Monday or Friday, as people do feel different on some days at different times. They then used the Gold Time for their most important tasks.
- You must set time limits for doing each task, the ones that you like you will spend a lot of time on, those that you don’t even less than you should, which is why you must give your self a time limit for each task. As a former football referee I still have my stop watch. Recently I realised that I was spending too much time on the tasks that I love, not enough on the ones that I dislike. The stop watch now sits on my desk and records the time that I spend on each task.
- Get rid of distractions – stop answering e-mails when they come in, put the mobile on silent, you are working, so work. Feel that sometimes because we work from home we tend to forget that we are still at work, needing to earn money to pay the bills.
- Not only must you create lists or planners but you must use them, otherwise why create them to start with. Print them out put it by tour desk so that you can see what you should be doing at what time. If the planners that you have are not quite what you want then amend any that you have, even design your own from templates that you have.
- Following on from the above, create a daily action plan. We all should have at least four if not five things that we feel that we ought to do with regard to planning our future. Having a list of varied tasks, will also reduce boredom and more importantly procrastination.
- Get rid of the urgency in your life by making sure that your family life is planned as well, this avoids last minute moments of you forgetting the weekly shopping or picking up your child. When I trained field staff, this was the very first thing that they were told to put in their diary for the week. Family life, within reason has to come first.
- Finally, not only keep a calendar, but ensure that it is up to date.
- If you do use a planner make sure that there is sufficient space to write down anything that you are likely to record, this could include expenses incurred in running the business.
- For serious or long term projects, suggest that you use an organiser to enable you to keep track of what you need to do and your progress, with any comments about what went right or wrong to use in future projects.
Learning to say No
If you work from home this can be a difficult one, you must impress on your partner and the family that when you are in your office, whether it be a room that you can use to work in, or just the dining room table, then you are at work and must not be disturbed. I am lucky I have a spare bedroom which I use as an office, it has everything that I need in it to run it as an office. When I am in there my wife knows not to disturb me, she is however allowed to bring me the odd cup of coffee.
You get requests to go out with friends for the day, before you say yes you must answer the following questions:
- Do you really want to go?
- Can you afford to go, not just financially, but spending time away from the office.
- Would a day out do you good or harm?
When you have answered these questions to your own satisfaction then you make the decision.
You get constant requests to try out all sorts of new ideas, if you want them, need them, can afford them, then fine, if not say no.
Managing Your E-Mails
This is a tricky one, I tend to spend ten minutes in a morning glancing to see what needs an answer, the same after dinner. When do I answer them? It just depends on how important they are, when I need a break I will often answer my mails then.
Always find five minutes to delete the rubbish during the day or last thing at night. Very often this can be 3/400 mails a day. Getting very good at speed reading the titles as I press the delete button. If I miss one and delete it by accident, I tend to just note the rough time of it, go into the delete box and retrieve it, before I hit the final delete.
Appreciate that most emails are a complete waste of our time, but we must have a system in place daily to remove them, otherwise they can be hanging around forever. Still find the odd mail that is weeks old which I have managed to miss, if it does need an answer am getting very good at grovelling with my replies.
Finally – Be Ruthless
Get rid of the time-wasters in your life, I do not mean just those who constantly badger you for this that and the other. You need to reject the tasks that waste your time. Here I am adding to odd things that we have already mentioned such as e-mails, in addition we have:
- The telephone, not your mobile, your land line if you have one, have you one that can tell you who is calling, if so, and you can call them back later, let the answer machine deal with it, rather than interrupt what you are doing, which will disturb your train of thought and work flow.
- Television, limit the time that you spend watching the dreaded goggle-box, you are not working on your business or earning money if you are watching sport on the television, be brutal with your self. When you have achieved your targets for the day, and got tomorrow’s plans ready, then you can unwind.
- Socializing, it is fine to have it in your diary to go out for a meal or a drink, but be wary of those who are at a loose end and just want some company over a drink, this almost comes under learn to say NO.
- Projects, you have been working on a project for sometime, it is not working out as you had hoped, you have to make a decision, it is starting to cost in terms of time and possibly money, do you revamp it or just put it mothballs, in other words this is a really hard no, but it is better to ditch it now, rather than waste anymore valuable time on it. You could be earning money on something more worthwhile.
You will gather that I feel that time management, or managing your time effectively is vitally important if we are to run our online business both effectively and efficiently. Hope that some of these ideas will help you, not matter how efficient you are.
As always do so hope that you have enjoyed this article, please feel free to leave any comments below, your comments are appreciated as is the time that you take to make them.
The next article will be “7 – The Need for a Disciplined Mind”
Be Happy, Healthy and Wealthy.
Stuart (aka Edwin)