Not Enough Time?

You planned on getting to work early to finish the project that’s due today, but the car won’t start. Now where’s that mechanic’s name and number. You frantically search through your notes, but can’t find it. You’re mind’s yelling, “The project!” You start to panic.

The clock just keeps ticking.

Most of us have been swamped at one time or another. With hectic work schedules, family responsibilities, and social engagements, there’s never enough time for everything we need to do. Although life will always have time constraints, once we begin managing our time wisely, the chaos in our lives can be reduced or even eliminated.

Learning to Manage Your Time

The first step in managing your time is to develop a general work schedule. Your work schedule should include time for yourself as well as time for the maintenance of your business.

Develop a General Work Schedule

  • Define the major elements of your workload
  • Prioritize the elements by identifying
    •  critical deadlines,
    • routine maintenance items
    • fun/relaxation time
  • Identify what needs to be done immediately. To start, ask:
    • How much time do I have to make this decision?
    • How much time do I have to finish this task?
    • How much time do I have to contact this person?
  • Set priorities that depend on
    • deadlines
    • how many people you must call to get the information
    • whether you can delegate or get assistance from others
    • time for group project communication and problem-solving

Once you have identified your priorities, determine your options for achieving them. Move forward with the ones you feel are the most useful. You have now started down the road to more effective time management.

Other Time Management Suggestions

Other suggestions useful for managing both your business life as well as your personal life include the following:

  • Contract out tasks. Contract out tasks you do not have the expertise to complete.
  • Start with the most worrisome task. Start the morning, afternoon, or evening with the most worrisome task before you. This will reduce your anxiety level for the next task.
  • Complete deadline work early. This will reduce stress and lighten your work schedule and give you more self-confidence managing your schedule.
  • Know your capacity for stress. When you are hitting overload, take the break when you need it.
  • Stay organized. Take time at the end of each day to briefly organize your desk and make lists of tasks for the next day.
  • Take advantage of down time. Schedule yourself down time between busy periods to review your schedule and reevaluate your priorities.
  • Get physical. Physical exertion such as walking, bicycling, swimming, stretching, yoga, jumping rope, sit-ups, playing with children, doing yard work, or organized sports activities helps to discharge stress.
  • Have fun. Be sure to have fun while working or playing; a good sense of humor keeps most problems in perspective.
  • Divide up your time. Decide how much time to spend on business development, personal needs, volunteerism, and family. Allow 25% for yourself. Make commitments, by setting a timeline for your involvement. Remember maintenance takes at least 25% of the time you spend on any project.
  • Build flexibility into your schedule. Be available to family and friends by being flexible. Female business owners frequently have the primary responsibility for making sure family members are cared for when they are dependent or ill, so it’s necessary to leave some time in your schedule for emergencies or to have good backup resources.

Your Business Life Versus Your Personal Life

Consider the relationship between your business life and your personal life. Be realistic as you answer the following questions, keeping in mind what is most important to you:

  • What are your long term goals? Your partner’s goals?
  • Where are the conflicts, and where are the similarities?
  • What is it that you really want to do? List all possible ways to accomplish this.
  • How long will it take you to reach your goal?
  • How do your timeline and goals affect your family (parents, siblings, partner, children)?
  • How do your personal goals conflict with or match your business goals?
  • How much time can you donate to community programs?
  • Have you talked about your personal goals with your business partner?
  • Have you talked about your business goals with your personal partner?

Don’t underestimate the toll that emotional stress takes on your physical health and your ability to concentrate on your work or enjoy time with your family. Make sure you make time for the important people and events in your life. Your business will still be there tomorrow or next week.