Time – it’s one commodity that all professionals want to have more of, and yet always seem to be chasing. For the home-based business owner, time can be doubly elusive. While home-based business owners actually have many opportunities to recoup time in a way that traditional workers may not, it can be easy to manage time poorly and allow the day to get away from you.
If you want to be a successful home-based business owner, time management is one of the most important skills that you will need to cultivate. Listed below are five useful tips to help you develop the time management skills that will allow you maintain control over your schedule.
Be a list-maker.
To-do lists can help you manage your work tasks on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, but it’s important to use them correctly. Don’t overload yourself by making long lists of tasks that you cannot feasibly accomplish in the time you’ve set for them.
Professionals suggest keeping to-do lists as simple as possible, and some even promote the idea that there should be no more than three things on your list each day. However you choose to organize your list, set aside a few minutes to write the next day’s list out the night before. This will help you streamline the next workday before it even begins.
Similarly, when you sit down to tackle your to-do list, do not attempt to multitask. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking can actually waste more time than it saves by requiring you to switch mental gears more often, which breaks concentration. Putting your focus on one task until you’ve seen it through can increase your performance level as well as your productivity, saving you more time overall.
Don’t co-mingle your home and work life.
Establish a daily routine and set work schedule to keep your home and work life separate when they occupy the same space. During your workday, make a concentrated effort to keep your mind focused on professional tasks. Save your personal responsibilities for after work hours. Failing to keep personal projects out of your workday can lead to serious time loss and leave you struggling to get important tasks accomplished.
Take up time-logging.
Identify the areas where you might be wasting time during the workday by recording a daily log of your professional activities. The log should be recorded for at least one day, but the longer the period of time you record your activities, the greater point of reference you will have.
Go about your daily schedule and write down everything that you do on paper or in a spreadsheet. Once you’ve logged your activities for a designated period of at least one day, review your log in order to determine where you’re spending time unnecessarily.
Areas where entrepreneurs may find themselves wasting valuable hours include running errands, taking calls, holding meetings, personal breaks, or responding to emails. Reduce these activities where possible in order to engage in better time management and a more efficient workday.
Engage in popular time management techniques.
If you’ve already cut the major time-draining activities from your day, you may benefit from looking into popular management techniques that can help you conduct your necessary, day-to-day tasks more effectively. One such method is the Pomodoro technique, in which you accomplish tasks in 25-minute bursts of concentration, followed by five-minute breaks.
This can be especially helpful for people who struggle with focus, and can be an efficient unit of measurement when it comes to devoting time to long-term projects. For example, you could set a goal of spending 8 “Pomodoros” on your social media marketing campaign each week.
Another useful time management technique is “blocking” your time. Sitting down with your monthly calendar and dividing it into blocks of time devoted to specific tasks can help you stick to a schedule and leave you with few unallocated hours. This helps some entrepreneurs maintain a tidy, efficient agenda.
For example, you can block out the same hours each week for working on making sales calls, updating your website, or taking meetings. This keeps you in a routine that can help you to regularly accomplish tasks each month. Whichever time management methods you use to get more things done, make sure to remember that methods should be modified to meet your personal business needs.
Work with a mentor.
Sometimes, applying time management best practices is easier to conceptualize than to actually do for yourself. If you find yourself trying to practice good time management but are unable to do so effectively, consider enlisting the help of a mentor to set you on the right path. A professional mentor may be able to provide an objective eye and identify the areas in which you can up your productivity at work without pushing yourself too far.
As an added bonus, an effective mentor will have personal experience with many of the same struggles that you experience as a home-based entrepreneur. He or she may offer a wide range of advice to make you a more efficient business leader all around.