Business and Operations
Secrets to better time management for entrepreneurs
By Kristie Tamsevicius
By Kristie Tamsevicius
January 13, 2012 – Why is it that the Bill Gateses of this world are rich
and famous? What secret do they know that the rest of us don't? If you
study their lives closely, you'll discover the rich and famous have
certain habits that attribute to their success.
Successful people are very careful about how they spend their time. No
matter how you slice it, we all have 24 hours in a day, so the key lies
in learning to use our time wisely. Below are some ways you can
dramatically increase your productivity through more effective use of
1. Monitor how you currently use your time: If it seems
like your day slips by all too quickly, try creating a log of your daily
activities. Once you see where you are spending your time, you can
identify and focus on the activities that provide the greatest returns
for you personally and financially. Start your log by writing down what
time you wake up, get ready, and begin work. Calculate how much time you
spend on individual activities such as email, phone calls, and client
2. Calculate how much your time is worth: Time is money. Knowing
how much your time is actually worth can help you make better decisions
as to whether you should perform a task or outsource it. For instance,
if your time is worth $200 an hour, you are far better off paying
someone $30 an hour to edit your newsletter. You can "bank" the other
$170 per hour by spending your time on profit making activities. Also
take the time to determine how much time a day you need to spend on
billable activities to make your desired profit. I try to spend 1.5
hours a day on money-making projects.
3. Create a daily schedule: Don't start your day without a to do
list. Make a list of tasks and categorize them into business building
activities, client activities, and personal items. Then break bigger
unmanageable projects into smaller "doable" chunks so they less
intimidating and are easier to accomplish.
4. Prioritize: Have more to do than hours in the day? By
prioritizing your tasks, you'll make sure that you are tackling the
items that matter most. Create a system that works for you. One standard
way of prioritizing is to mark items with A, B, and C.
- Ask yourself these key questions:
- What items must be done today?
- Which items can be rescheduled?
- What can be delegated?
- Which tasks most closely match my priorities and goals?
- Which items can be eliminated?
5. Learn to say no: Are you adding one more item to your
never-ending to do list? You are in control of your time. Be strong and
uphold your personal boundaries. When you are well rested and treat
yourself and your family to the time off you deserve, you'll feel
happier and more productive when it's time to go back to work. Before
you say yes, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you really have the time or energy to do that extra task?
- Do I like this customer? Are they good for me?
- Will it be profitable?
- Does it invade on your personal time?
- Does it involve doing something you enjoy?
- Does it fit in with your list of priorities and goals?
6. Remove distractions and time sucks: Time sucks are lurking
everywhere like viruses. Think about which activities are eating up your
time. For me personally, these items include email, social calls, and
telemarketers. I "conquer" the email demon by shutting down my Outlook
when I am working. When a family member calls during work time, I
politely ask if I can call them back during the afternoon and remind
them of my work hours. Caller ID valiantly saves me from the "would be"
telemarketer time thieves. With one glance, I can quickly differentiate
telemarketers from important client calls.
7. Stick to the plan: Try not to get sidetracked from your plan.
One of my friends has a motto: "A lack of planning on your part does not
constitute an emergency for me." It's a smart one to live by. Unless
it's a true emergency, or you are being paid "rush" time, you probably
don't need to squeeze a last minute request in today. Also, by assigning
yourself project deadlines, you can keep on top of projects and avoid
those dreaded last minute emergencies.
8. Choose an inspiring place and time: We are all built differently.
Do the tasks which take your most brain power when you are at your
prime. Are you a morning person or do you work best burning the midnight
oils? Create an ultimate work haven that is clean, distraction free,
and inspiring. My office overlooks my flower garden and is right in the
heart of family activity. As I glance to the right, our Angel fish,
Spike, proudly parades across the fish tank. In front of me, Monet has a
glorious display of peach poppies in a field. Above me, Monet is
painting a vivid portrait of his flower garden. In the living room, my
son is softly singing the Spiderman theme to himself – music to my ears!
9. Bundle like tasks together: As you work through your daily list,
try to chunk your tasks into like activities. By creating a separate
chunk of time for answering email, invoicing, making return phone calls,
you'll save time and mental energy.
10. Avoid interruptions: Trying to do the same thing over and over
again with interruptions can be maddening. Once you start a task, try to
finish it to the end. If something comes up that you need to remember
or do, unless it's urgent, simply add it to your list and continue on
with your current project.
11. Be organized: When things are tidy, it saves you time and frees
you to focus on the task at hand. Digging through a pile of papers and
finding a squished Twinkie isn't very conducive to the work experience.
Follow your own organizational style.
- Phone lists: For instance, I arrange my phone lists into
groups according to how I use them: friends, family, doctors, my
children's playmates, etc. I also list people in my phone book that I
talk to on a first name basis by their first name alphabetically. For
instance, I list my mom under "M" and my brother under "T" for Troy. "D"
has a list of all my doctors. This works for me, because it's how I
- Emails: Another time saving idea is to color code your
emails. In my personal color scheme I use one color for clients, one for
newsletters, and another for my coworkers. You can also group your
emails using categories and folders.
- One calendar meets all: Keeping track of work appointments,
Brownie meetings, and committee meetings can be very difficult. My
secret to keeping on top of family and work appointments is to schedule
them all on one calendar.
- Daytimer special section: Create a special section of your
Daytimer just for special interests, hobbies, or kids. My husband keeps
one with all his stock info. I have a special kid section with phone
numbers for Brownie leaders, playmates, doctors, school contacts, bus
number and other items.
Why wait for success when you can literally schedule it! By mastering
your time, you can accomplish much more with less effort. Be choosey
about how you spend your time. Focus on activities which most closely
match your goals. By taking time to monitor, measure, and manage your
time, you will enjoy an abundance of success and happiness.
Kristie Tamsevicius, America's favorite small business success story,
is a leading expert in the areas of home based business, Internet
marketing, and web development. She is the author of three books
including her newest release, I Love My Life: A Mom's Guide to Working from Home. Reach her at 847-244-8450 or email email@example.com .