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Time Management Skills for the Solo Entrepreneur

§ November 19th, 2012 § Filed under Time Management § Tagged , , § No Comments

You’ve done it. You’ve taken the plunge and become your own boss. You no longer work for anyone and no one works for you. You now get to make all of the decisions without anyone else interfering. It’s your company and you’re the boss.

One of the things that solo entrepreneurs find out soon after setting up shop is that there’s a lot of work to do and that they are the only one around to do it. Some  prefer to do everything themselves, others hire people to do some of the more mundane jobs or the ones for which they have little knowledge or talent. Still others would prefer to hire some help but find they can’t afford to when they’re just starting out. How can one person manage to do everything? Time management skills are just as important for the lone entrepreneur as they are for the business with thousands of employees. Prioritizing is a necessary component of effective time management.  You may have different priorities every day but it is necessary to identify what they are.

Schedule Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Tasks

Obviously, there are some tasks you will have to do on a daily basis and each day should start with a fresh to do list. Depending on your business, though, there are probably several tasks that you can do on a weekly basis and some that you can do on a monthly basis. It may take trial and error to figure out what these tasks are and to schedule them accordingly.

Daily tasks may include checking your email and replying back to clients or others but try to keep checking email to a minimum of no more than two or three times over the course of the day. You might be surprised at how much time can be wasted perusing email over the course of a day. If you have a subscription list that you send emails to on a daily basis, consider using one of the many products or services that can automate that for you, such as an auto responder program or service. Speaking of email, when you do check your email, manage it immediately even if you don’t answer it immediately. That is, either delete it or move it to an appropriate folder where you can easily find it when you need to. There is no greater time waster than spending time looking for something. The folders you create will depend on your individual needs, of course, but everyone should have a to do folder in their email.

Social media can be another time suck.  You want to schedule so much time – 15 minutes/30 minutes or whatever – and then get off.  Don’t get caught up in everything that you don’t get any work done.  Social media can be great for building your business – but it can also be a large deterrent to you and your time management.

As you build your business, you may decide to hire someone to help you with some aspects of your business needs. The Internet is rich with individuals who work as virtual assistants or who work in some aspect that you will find helpful. There are various job boards, auction sites, and forums that you can use to find assistance, many of which cost very little or are free. Manage your time and your money wisely and you will grow your business at a steady rate.

 

 

Keeping A Time Management Diary

§ October 31st, 2012 § Filed under Time Management, Working From Home § No Comments

One of the first things financial experts tell those with money problems is to write down every single dime they spend for a period of about 30 days. This is often used as an eye-opening exercise so people can see where their money is really going so they can know where they need to make adjustments or control their spending. In the same way, keeping a time management diary can be a valuable tool to help you to see where the bulk of your time is being spent. If you are constantly being interrupted by phone calls or find yourself surfing the net when you should be working, a time management diary can help you to pinpoint areas where you might need to make adjustments.

Other ways a Time Management Diary can Benefit Your Business

When you start keeping a time management diary, don’t just note that you are working at certain times but rather write down exactly what kind of work you are doing. You don’t have to get detailed here, just jot down a few words. For example, are you conducting research, responding to customer questions or complaints, filling orders, updating your site, or what? Tracking the amount of time you spend on each work activity, at least at first, will help you to see where you are spending the bulk of your time and where you might need to make adjustments.

Be Honest!

The time management diary is for your eyes only so be honest! Write down the time you spend surfing, playing video or online games, emailing friends, and any other non work-related activities. Just like the individuals who keep finance diaries are often shocked to discover how much they spend on beverages or magazines, you may be surprised to discover where huge blocks of your time are going. Whatever you discover, once you have a record of how you normally spend your time, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what adjustments, if any, need to be made.

Time Spent on Business Activities

You may be surprised to discover that you spend a good portion of your day answering customer questions or complaints. If so, use this information wisely to streamline your business and hopefully, increase profits. For example, if you are spending a significant amount of time answering customer questions, could your site benefit from a FAQ section? What about customer complaints? Are you seeing the same complaints over and over again? Is there something you can do different to minimize those complaints? If so, it will serve you well to do so since your customers will likely tell others how they feel about your business, whether it is positive or negative.

Start keeping a time management diary today and use it as a tool to grow your business!