Time is one of our most valuable possessions; and once it’s lost we can’t get it back. We all have the same 24 hours in a day, but it is up to us on whether we utilize it effectively or not. Here are some tips for time management, and some specific ones for those who work from home to help you be most efficient and productive with your time.
Sunday Night Strategy Session
Sometime each Sunday afternoon/evening take about 30 minutes to create and agenda and get my week in order. Put all the kids/family/personal appointments/sports practices on the calendar. Add in your appointments, conference calls and exercise. Plan your dinner menu based on what you have going on each evening. Creating an organized a weekly agenda can make a huge impact in your productivity.
Make a daily To-do List ~ with Purpose
Keep an electronic list or notebook by your computer always with your goals and to-do lists in it, all in one place for work and personal to do items. Whenever you go to your computer, have a definite purpose in mind. This helps prevent you from aimlessly checking email or surfing the net and getting lost. Know what you need to accomplish, write it down, do it, and move on to the next activity.
Establish Work Hours ~ and stick to them
This is REALLY important if you work from home! Establish hours that work for you, your clients, and your family and stick with them. They don’t have to be the same every day, but set them. If you have set your work hours for today to be from 9-12, then you don’t do housework during that time. Avoid the temptation to watch Oprah during this time – unless you schedule it into your day. (Of course, there is nothing wrong with running the dishwasher or dryer while you work – that is the ultimate benefit of working from home).
Having a routine for your household chores and business activities can really help with time management. When you have a good routine, you can do things without thinking, and they always take up less time that way. Keep your routines written down until they’re memorized. Use an organizing calendar or digital system…whatever works best for you. Make sure everyone else in your household knows the basics of your routine so that things flow more smoothly.
Analyze your activities ~ Identify time wasters and Outsource possibilities
Think about the steps you engage yourself in with your business and see if those tasks are really paying off for you. A lot of people who work from home do things like join safelists, traffic exchanges and other activities that most internet marketing experts agree are not the best use of your time.
Outsource as many tasks as you can afford. Consider hiring a virtual assistant if you have a lot of administrative tasks. Or pay your kids to do things for you that are age appropriate. Create a carpool with a friend so that you aren’t doing all of the running back and forth with the kids to sports practices. Hire a cleaning service. Barter for administrative help. Have a helper come over to play with your kids. And the list goes on. With a little creativity, you can save yourself A LOT of time and stress. Some can even be a tax deductible expense. Check with your accountant.
Eliminate complete time wasters like the TV, chatting with friends etc during your work hours.
Think Assembly Line for Efficiency
Group similar activities together. Don’t check your email all day, check it two or 3 times a day (at most) and answer all the emails at the same time. When you want to make changes to your website, list them all and wait until you need to make several changes at once. Run all your errands at once. When one child asks for a story gather them all around. Same thing for snacks.
Get wireless internet and a laptop if at all possible. This can make a drastic improvement in your ability to work online around your children. You can sit on the front porch and work on your website while your kids play in the yard. Or you can drop them off at a friend’s house and head to Starbucks and get online!
Use autoresponders, mailing lists and other resources to automate your business. If you find yourself typing out answers to the same questions over and over again, add pages to your website or create FAQ’s that address those topics and refer your customers or downline or whomever to those.
Use a Timer
A timer has so many uses. You can set it to tell your child when you’ll be available for them. Young children have difficulty comprehending time, and the timer will set them at ease so they won’t bug for you that entire period.
It also keeps you on track and helps you finish up tasks more quickly. Use it when you’re reading email, cleaning house, whenever you want to accomplish something fast.
No one person can do everything. Your time and energy is valuable and you need to be firm in setting limits on how you spend it. Don’t commit to things that you can’t reasonably accomplish. Get enough rest. Learn to say No. Avoid negative people who like to whine.
We’re constantly working on time management, but with creativity and good routines, we can have a thriving business and a balanced life.