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Time Management Skills and Tips for Small Businesses



Another AHBBO Article
Managing Time to Accomplish More

2013 Elena Fawkner

Time is inelastic. Despite what some of us persist in believing,
it will NOT magically expand to accommodate all we have to do.
So, in order to maximize the time we have available, we have to
spend it wisely.

Here's how to do that.


STRUCTURE YOUR TIME

The very first thing to do is understand the structure of your
time. If you think of the time you have available as some
amorphous dimension, you will fritter it away on this and that
without any real consideration of what is the best use of the
time available. How many times have you got to the end of
your day and felt like you'd accomplished nothing even though
you'd been "busy" all day.

All time is not equal. If you're a morning person, your
morning time is worth more in terms of productivity than your
late afternoon time.

So think of time as variable in terms of potential for
accomplishment and identify your most valuable time. Do
the same for your intermediate-value time and your lower-value
time.

Reserve your most valuable time for your most intellectually
demanding activities. Your intermediate value time should be
spent on important tasks that don't require quite the same level
of concentration. Finally, reserve your low-value time for
activities that don't require much in the way of concentration.

Now, obviously, if you have a full-time job away from the home,
the decision of how to spend your 9 to 5 hours will largely be
out of your hands. So, the best you can do if you're a morning
person is to try and take care of some of your intellectually
demanding activities first thing in the morning, say between
5:00 am and 7:00 am. On the other hand, if you're a night owl,
working a full-time job probably won't be much of a problem for
you.

If you run your own business from home, however, effectively
structuring your time in terms of peak, intermediate and low-
concentration blocks can make a profound impact on your
productivity if you use that time intelligently.


IDENTIFY WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO

Now that you have some sense of how to best structure your
time, you need to turn to what, exactly, you're going to spend
that time on.

That means identifying what you have to do. And that means
identifying what you DON'T have to do as the flipside.

When identifying what you have to fit in to your schedule,
think about all areas of your life. Making time for yourself is
NOT something that you get around to only if there's time left
over. Making time for yourself is as much a priority as anything
else.

A good way of identifying activities that should be included in
your schedule is to test them against the criteria of furtherance
of an objective. If the activity does nothing to further any
objective, why are you even doing it?

So start by identifying objectives for your life. Consider categories
such as health, finance, business/career, spiritual, family, social,
intellectual and so on. Establish objectives for every area of your
life that's important to you.

Everything you do should bring you closer to an objective. If it
doesn't, again, why do it?


ALLOCATE YOUR ACTIVITIES

Now that you know how to best structure your time and what
activities are going to lead you closer to your objectives, it's time
to allocate those activities against the time you have available
and in accordance with your various concentration levels.

Begin by estimating how much time each activity in your day is
likely to take. Be realistic about what you can really accomplish in
one day. If you overload yourself you're only going to stress out
about what you're NOT doing and that makes you less effective
in what you ARE doing. So pace yourself. Just don't WASTE time.

Assign your most intellectually demanding activities to your peak
concentration time. This may be writing a chapter of your ebook
or writing an article for the next issue of your ezine. Assign your
less concentration-intensive activities to your intermediate
concentration time. This may be redesigning a web page or
reading and responding to email, for example. Finally, assign
your truly "no concentration required" activities to your low
concentration periods. If you've allocated time to exercising, this
would be a good time to do a workout.


KILLING TWO BIRDS WITH ONE STONE

There's no reason why you can't use the same time to accomplish
more than one thing. For example, I am writing this article (a high
concentration activity) on my laptop while enjoying coffee in a Santa
Monica cafe (a low concentration activity).


GROUP LIKE TASKS

Grouping like tasks will allow you to accomplish more in the same
amount of time. It is much more efficient to run three errands
while you're out and about rather than making three separate trips.
Similarly, it's more time-efficient to run one large load of laundry
rather than two separate, smaller loads. So give some thought
to these mundane sorts of activities too. There's always a way to
shave off a bit of time by grouping similar activities and doing them
in one hit. Email's another prime example. Far more efficient to
check and respond to mail twice a day than to read and respond to
each message as and when it comes in, thereby distracting
yourself from what you were doing in the first place.

By thinking about what you have to do and scheduling those tasks
in conformity with your concentration levels as well as grouping
like activities, you will naturally make the most effective use of the
time available. Your productivity will increase proportionately.

_________________________

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