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Running Your Business Smarter
-- Making Time for Your Business

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Do you know what time it is? Today's entrepreneur can answer that question in a multitude of ways by consulting a planner, a PDA, a computer-based scheduler, or any of a number of other tools. But being able to tell time isn't the same thing as being able to manage it. You became an entrepreneur because you love what you do.

As a small business owner, you're trying to make a lot of things fit into each day, from providing excellent service to your customers to finding ways to keep your business growing. Administrative duties, interruptions and meetings are among the many things that compete for your time. Not everyone is well organized. However, many business owners figure out ways to budget their time so that their days are efficient and productive. The bottom line is that, if you don?t manage your time well, your business won't grow.

Take Time to Make Time

Many time management experts agree on some fundamentals. Among them, that effective time management comes down to developing disciplined work habits, setting priorities, working proactively, focusing on goals, and meeting deadlines. Dennis Snedden, president of Carnegie, PA-based Time Management Services, a consulting firm that works to improve personal productivity, says on his web site that the first secret to good time management is simply writing it down. "You can't do what you can't remember," he says. "That doesn't mean that you will take action on everything that you write down. It just means that you won't forget it." Also, he adds, "Before you leave the office, before you stop work for the day, on the way home . . . any time before your head hits the pillow at night, have tomorrow planned."

There's a Right Tool for Every Job

Writing and planning are at the core of effective time management. The good news is that there are a number of tools available to help you get organized and stay focused, and nearly all can be found in your local office supply store. Explore them and even try them out to see which tools - or combination of tools - best meets your needs. Computer-based planning and project management systems enable you to plan your daily schedule, write it down, and print out a hard copy each morning. These tools are excellent for business owners who are regularly at or near their computers. And - speaking of your computer - it's now easier than ever to take care of many financial transactions with a few quick mouse clicks. For example, online banking, including automated payments, provides today's business owners with a whole new level of welcome timesaving convenience.

Waste not, Want not

By prioritizing, you can identify realistic and manageable tasks and achieve better results with the same or less effort, and say "yes" to activities that support them and "no" to those that don't. Determine your best hour-and-a-half period of your work day. "You can get two to three times more work done during your peak hour and-a-half than you can during your 'off peak' hours," Snedden says. "Guard this time zealously. Let others know the best times not to interrupt and disturb you. You'll get more done and be in control of your day, your week, your month and your life."

Ten Ways to Keep Time On Your Side

  1. Identify your priorities, and think carefully about the outcomes you want.
  2. Turn your priorities into goals, and know what you have to do to achieve them.
  3. Keep a planner, PDA or computer calendar at your fingertips, and use it to plan each day.
  4. Be realistic with travel and appointment time. Avoid overbooking or shortchanging yourself...and your customer.
  5. Confirm appointments the day before.
  6. A white board in your work area can work wonders as a constant reminder of tasks, deadlines and priorities. Erase and refresh it each Monday morning.
  7. Learn to say no when necessary.
  8. Interruptions happen. Keep them brief!
  9. Set a specific time limit for meetings and phone calls, and stick to it.
  10. Seek professional input to get the most out of your time management efforts.

 

 

 

 

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