Time on Your Side:
9 Ways to Take Control of the Clock
by Carolyn Campbell
What is your most valuable resource to build your career? While money and your product or service are vital, many experts and entrepreneurs agree that time is your most precious commodity. In business, minutes carry multiple demands; you can easily think of twenty tasks to fill each hour. Because time
is a limited resource, it requires astute delegation. Managing your day is equally as crucial as budgeting your money. If you use your time successfully, you'll be able to oversee your business, market and promote your enterprise and eventually expand your business to reach the level of success of which you’ve always dreamed.
The following suggestions will help you take command of your most
important investment--the time you spend today:
Organize your work space to streamline your operations.
Since 1981, Bob Frare has managed his sales training company, Partner
Selling Group, from a 10-by-10-foot office in his Albany, New York, home.
"My office is the smallest, most highly organized space possible," Frare
says. "I believe strongly in touching papers only once and keeping a specific
place for them. I focus on one paper on my desk at a time. And when I'm
finished, it goes in my file or in a large wastebasket beside me." Frare's
favorite organizational tool is a cubbyhole system with separate slots
for stationery, envelopes, client letters, invoices and receipts. "I used
to spin around to look for my stationery and jump up three times for the
envelope and stamps when I wrote a letter," Frare says. "Now everything
is right in front of me, and I know when to order more supplies. When
bills come in, I don't mess with them individually. They go in the slot
for bills until my part-time bookkeeper comes in." Frare finds that keeping
his office clutter-flee saves him time on each transaction, and customers
frequently compliment him on his efficiency.
Create a list to keep track of tasks. A time-management
expert and author of seven time-and business-management books, Jeffrey
J. Mayer is also a consultant and speaker in Chicago. "As a reminder of
tasks to complete, most people leave papers and Post-Its on their desks,"
says Mayer. "Instead of piles of papers, create a list of priorities.
You can keep adding new items to the list and, when you finish something,
scratch it off. Ask yourself, 'Which is the most important thing to do?'
After you decide which task to pursue, instead of thinking about it, just
Assign vital tasks to the "prime time" of your day. In his book, Time
Management For Dummies,
Mayer says that each person has peak times during the day when his or her
energy and concentration are high. "During this time, it's possible for
twice as much done in half the time with half the effort," Mayer says.
your prime time, give yourself two uninterrupted hours daily. Leave your
answering machine on, turn off your beeper and don't read your e-mail. Do
something important that will make you the most money."
If you have a project that requires an hour to complete, make an
appointment with yourself during your prime time and block that time out
Maximize your accomplishments by multitasking.
Azriela Jaffe, author of Honey,
I Want to Start My Own Business: A Planning Guide for Couples, has
been called "the queen of multitasking." She's an expert at making every
minute count. A business coach and speaker in Lancaster, Pennsylvania,
Jaffe believes that a cordless phone is a must for home based business
owners who want to make the most of their time. "The best part of working
at home is that tasks can be done in short spurts," Jaffe says. "Whenever
I'm doing something that doesn't require my total attention, I find something
to do alongside it. I'm always on my portable phone.' Jaffe begins by
planning her day early each morning. She determines which tasks she hopes
to accomplish by the end of the day and decides which ones she can combine.
"I segment my day at the beginning--which may mean I prepare dinner at
10 a.m., if chopping vegetables would work with a phone call to a colleague,"
Jaffe explains. "If two of my tasks are talking with a colleague and printing
documents or reading mail and downloading an e-mail message, I do those
during the same half hour rather than spending half an hour on each."