I am sure you know someone who is naturally slim and it seems that it doesn’t matter what they eat they don’t put on any weight. I know quite a few people like that but I’m not one of them. I have to watch what I eat and consistently exercise to maintain my weight which at the moment is not where I want it to be! Since starting my own business the pounds have slowly crept on; a change in schedule, being at home and near the biscuit and chocolate barrel and stress – yes I eat and put on weight when I get stressed – have all contributed to the needle on the scale moving in a easterly direction. This got me thinking about time. As a busy entrepreneur you will know that time is at a premium and you’ve no doubt often thought ‘where has the day gone?’. When I first started my business, time just slipped through my hands and it took ages to get everything done. It probably took me about a year to realise that, like trying to keep the pounds at bay, if I wanted to be as productive as I was in the corporate world then I was going to have to change the way I was approaching my day. Just like my daily eating regime I was going to have to get time efficient and food effective. Below are some tips for getting more out of your time.
- An hour before you go to bed write a list of all the activities you need to do the following day and put them in order of priority. Don’t expect to do everything on your list but decide what is doable. Not only will you have your list ready to start the following day but you will also have emptied your mind so you can have a good night’s sleep.
- Recognise that there are some things that you are good at and others that you are not, and there are some things you shouldn’t be doing as it’s not a good use of your time, regardless of whether you’re good at them or not. Do yourself a favour – get an expert to do them for you. The amount of people I have come across who try their hand at designing the marketing collateral for their business when they have no design experience and then spend hours trying to get it right. Hmmmm this is when you need to STOP.
- Don’t put off the tasks that only take a few minutes to complete. Set aside one hour a day to do the tasks that take no time at all, like calling your printer to replenish your business cards, making an appointment with your bank manager, changing the cartridges in your printer, phoning a family member or friend to arrange dinner, lunch, drinks. Doing these small but mundane tasks take no time at all and you will find that you soon get on top of your administration.
- Make sure you take a break and get outside for some fresh air. This is especially important if you are a homeworker as it’s all too easy to stay cooped up all day. A brisk walk around the block and maybe a coffee will energise the batteries and stimulate the mind.
- Get selfish with your ‘To Do’ list or ‘Day Planner’ – agree to do a burst of uninterrupted work for 45 or 60 minutes and then read and respond to your emails for 15 or 20 minutes, then back to another burst of uninterrupted work. Emails can eat into your time so rather than slavishly being at their beck and call schedule time in to deal with them.
- Choose a day at the weekend to plan out the following week. Group activities together so that you can make the most of your time. Knowing the shape of your week from the outset helps you get into the right mindset, plan for the week and enable you to agree to those unexpected requests like a new client meeting.
- Track your output, I make a note every hour what I have been doing. In the long term it helps with planning as you have a much better understanding of how long a task actually takes to complete. It’s also a reminder of what you have achieved at the end of the day/week.
- Be strict with your time and allocate work hours. It’s really easy when you work for yourself to get into the habit of agreeing to meet friends for coffee, lunch or go to that mid-morning gym class which you wouldn’t normally do if you were working in an office. Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t do these things but if you want your business to grow and be successful you need to be disciplined about your work hours, so agree them upfront and stick to your plan.
- Have a clear social media strategy and a daily time limit on how much you will spend using Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and any others social medial tools you may use. These are fantastic tools and great for keeping you and your clients engaged but it’s so easy to lose track of how much time you are spending on them.
- When you are an entrepreneur there are no rules for how much time you can spend on your business but the fact is that your body cannot work 24/7. To ensure you stay creative and energised you must take time off to relax and rest so that your body and brain get refreshed.
Start putting these tips into practice today and you will soon find that you have time on your hands and hopefully you won’t be carrying any extra baggage.