Management For Home-Based Business Owners:
Eight Tips To
Propel You Toward Success
TIME…there never seems to be
enough of it, but you already have all you're ever going to get.
So, the solution to your time-crunch problem is to use the time
you have more efficiently. Thankfully, there are many
time-management techniques that can help, whether for managing
personal or business time. Learning them will also help you in
areas of your life other than your business.
The positive outcome of using
time wisely is both tangible and intangible. Whenever you can
“work smarter” and maximize all your assets--time being one of
your most important--you increase your chances for greater
business success and profit. The intangible, and perhaps
unexpected, benefits will be peace of mind, a sense of
accomplishment, and improved self-esteem.
This principle applies to time
management, as well as many other things in life. If you make a
task too complicated, you won’t do it. While many people have
excellent results with a formal time-planning system or daily
planner (DayTimer, Day Runner, Franklin Planner, etc.), some
find they can do more with less. Read this article by Jane
Wesman, successful CEO (http://www.inc.com/magazine/19960901/1807.html).
She uses only a simple spiral notebook to keep track of her time
and her life.
Find a comfortable spot, fix
yourself a mug of your favorite beverage, and pull out a nice
clean legal pad or notebook and pen. Think about where you’d
like to see your business a year from now and five years from
now. Write down your goals and make them as specific as
possible. They should also be measurable and achievable. The
best goals are those that cause you to challenge--but not
overwhelm--yourself as you strive for business progress and
success. Your written goals will provide the framework and
foundation for all your other business activities and decisions.
In one year, my business sales
will be _________________.
In one year, I will have ______
In one year, I will have made
____ public presentations and give ___ seminars.
In one year, I will have joined
the major trade associations in my area.
Important Note: Do not become
paralyzed with the fear that you may not reach your goals!
Research has shown that those who have written goals will make
more progress in a given time span than someone without written
goals, regardless of what those goals are. Write them down! When
making decisions, ask yourself if a certain action will, or will
not, get you closer to your goals.
Review your goals periodically.
Let’s face it: we’re all
different, and a time-management system that works for one
person might drive someone else absolutely around the bend. It’s
appropriate, then, to begin any time-management planning by
thinking about yourself, your internal biological clock, and
your daily routines. Are you a morning person or an evening
person? Do you do your best work when it’s absolutely quiet, or
do you thrive on background activity? Do you find that time
alone is essential, or do you flounder when there’s no one else
around with whom to interact? Soon you will know which times of
the day and which settings are your most productive. Whenever
possible, schedule your highest priority items during these time
periods and in these environments.
Just like financial budgeting,
you can’t improve your time expenditure significantly unless you
know how you’re already spending it. Many people find that a
visual tool will help them put things in perspective. Use your
daily planner or make yourself a weekly calendar/chart with the
days of the week on top of the chart and the hours of the
day--in 15 minute increments--down the left side of the chart.
We’ve included a Time Chart Template document at the end of this
article for you to use or adapt. Print it out and tape it
together. Use colored highlighters to fill in blocks of time
that are unavailable or otherwise committed: sleeping, eating,
family, etc. This will give you a powerful visual image of the
time with which you have available to work as you move forward
in your planning.
Jot down everything you do for a
week. Yes, this will seem like an extremely tedious and boring
exercise, but it will do two important things: 1) It will force
you to think about the value of an activity when you know you
have to write it down, and 2) It will clearly illuminate areas
of your day and week where time was not well managed.
You’ve heard it a million times,
but unless you bite the bullet and schedule some time for
YOURSELF to plan your upcoming day, you won’t understand why
virtually every time-management guru insists on this. Some
people prefer to take 15 to 20 minutes before they quit work for
the day to plan the next day. Others prefer to do it right
before they go to bed, claiming that they rest better knowing
that they don’t have to worry about forgetting something, since
it’s already committed to paper. Some “morning people” find that
they are fresher and more focused if their planning time is the
first thing in the morning. There’s no right or wrong way to do
this--just do it.
Now create your “To Do” or Action
List--write things down as they come to you, without trying to
put them in any order. If you want, you can have one column for
personal things and another for business, but even this is not
critical. Find your own groove and move forward. Always check
your previous day’s list and make sure any unfinished items are
This takes just a minute or two,
but after you’ve made your Action List, scan down and write a
number beside each item on the list to designate its order. If
you get bogged down, just put #1 by all those you feel you MUST
accomplish right away. Write a #2 beside those that are somewhat
less vital, and a #3 beside the rest.
Now here is the critical tip:
FINISH ALL YOUR #1’s BEFORE YOU GO ON TO YOUR #2’s. Finish all
your #2’s before you go on to your #3’s. In the real world, some
of your 2’s and 3’s might get done in between your #1’s, but as
a matter of priority, stick to your numbering system as closely
If you are a visual person, you
might prefer to prioritize with colors instead of numbers. The
method is not critical. What’s critical is that you’ve done it.
Trying to be perfect will only
set you up for failure. Be flexible. There are times when you
can’t stick to your schedule, so allow some undesignated time
for these unexpected things. When interrupted, follow
time-management consultant Alan Lakein's advice and ask
yourself, "What is the most important thing I can be doing with
my time right now?" This will help you get back on track more
This is easy for some and VERY
difficult for others. The secret is to learn to say "no"
gracefully. Resist the urge to provide defensive answers and
multiple explanations. “I’m sorry, but I already have plans,” or
“I’m flattered that you want me to chair that committee, but I
could not do it justice with my other commitments,” are both
acceptable answers. Sometimes you can offer an alternative that
doesn’t sabotage your staying on track towards your goals: “I
don’t feel I can chair the auction committee, but I’d be happy
to make a contribution and promote it in my customer
Try never to accept another major
commitment or obligation without at least considering it for 24
hours. This gives you breathing room to weigh the pros and cons
without the pressure of someone waiting for a quick answer.
If doing all these things at once
seems daunting, start with just one and take baby steps towards
implementing more and more. If you need more reinforcement, use
the resources below. The sense of control you will achieve will
be powerful. The improvement to your business bottom line will
be a satisfying reward.
Lakein, Alan. How to Get Control
of Your Time and Your Life. New York: Signet, 1974.
McGee-Cooper, Ann. Time
Management for Unmanageable People. Dallas, TX: Ann
McGee-Cooper & Associates, 1983.
Prochaska, Kathy. “Thirteen
Timely Tips for More Effective Personal Time Management.”
Published by the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension
Wesman, Jane. “Time Management,
The Simplest System.” Inc magazine. September 1, 1996: http://www.inc.com/magazine/19960901/1807.html
A CEO offers her insights on
saving time by using an ordinary notebook to plan the business
day and more.
General Time Management Resources
Time Management Skills - Making
the most of your time—http://www.mindtools.com/pages/main/newMN_HTE.htm
This Mind Tools section shows you
how to use personal time management skills.
Inc.com’s Time Management
Inc.com guides contain Inc’s best
resources, handpicked by Inc.com editors, on specific
business-management issues. Type “Time Management” into the
site’s search window and click “Go” to generate a list of
articles on this topic.
Date and Time Management—http://www.freewarehome.com/Business_and_Productivity/
Freeware Home—Collection of free
software designed for business owners regarding productivity and
time management. Software includes calendars, clocks, reminders,
schedulers, business management and more.
Day Runner: http://www.dayrunner.com,
Franklin Planner: http://www.franklincovey.com/
The Busy Woman's Daily Planner:
Davidson, Jeff. The Idiot’s Guide
to Managing Your Time. MacMillan Publishing Company, 1999.
Drucker, Peter. The Effective
Executive. New York: Harper & Row, 1966.
Griessman, B. Eugene. Time
Tactics of Very Successful People. McGraw-Hill Trade, 1994.
Koch, Richard. The 80/20
Principle: The Secret To Success by Achieving More With Less.
Morganstern, Julie. Time
Management from the Inside Out: The Foolproof System for Taking
Control of Your Schedule and Your Life. Henry Holt. 2000.
Yager, Jan. Creative Time
Management for the New Millennium. Hannacroix Creek Books, 1999.
Time Management Articles—http://www.entrepreneur.com/Your_Business/YB_Node/0,4507,354,00.html
Editor’s picks on Time Management
articles from Entrepreneur.com
Organizing articles for planning
and scheduling time to accomplish your goals, simplify your life
and know your priorities.
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Time Management Strategies and
Tools for Busy Women—http://www.thebusywoman.com/
Welcome to The Busy Woman's Daily
Planner®. Whether you need time management advice or one of our
Signature Line Planners this company’s goal is to provide you
with the tools you need to enhance your quality of life by
keeping everything at your fingertips--leaving more time for
what matters most: Family, Friends & FUN!
Online Women’s Business
Time management skills can help
you make the most effective, efficient use of your time. The
good time manager is not necessarily the person who gets the
most done. Rather, the good time manager is a "macro time
manager" who knows the activities that contribute most to his or
her long-term life development. This is a very thought-provoking
article, aimed primarily at women but clearly stating universal
CyberSchmooz Small Business Chat
Forum Lobby at IdeaCafe—http://www.ideacafe.com/html/CS.html
Small business online message
board and chat forum where entrepreneurs and experts share
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