Thursday, December 6, 2007

Time management essential

Written plan aids in organizing and prioritizing daily tasks, allowing for better flow in business

One of the major stress factors in owning a small business is that there simply isn't enough time to accomplish all that needs to be done to keep your business running smoothly. As an entrepreneur, you are constantly faced with choices about how to spend your time. It is a valuable commodity and you can only make it go so far. Keep in mind that it is not just how much time you have, but what you do with it that counts. Time management really means managing yourself and your job responsibilities effectively. Small-business owners typically get bogged down for two reasons: poor planning and poor communication. Unless you have a written plan guiding your business, each decision requires too much time and you spend more time fixing past mistakes than planning for the future. Create a business plan to outline the fundamental goals and objectives of your business. With a plan in place, you can concentrate on implementation rather than rethinking each decision. Implementing the business plan also means putting processes in place that allow employees to execute according to plan. ''Process mapping'' will allow common exceptions to be resolved in a consistent and timely manner. This allows you to concentrate on major issues and better manage your time. Regarding communication, maintain an open-door policy for employees. Create an atmosphere that encourages employees to keep you informed about what is going on in your business. Employees are on the front lines and know your business almost as well as you do. They might know your customers better than you do. To make better use of your time, log appointments and major deadlines in a monthly calendar. Write down what must be done and the due dates for projects at key progress intervals. There are many time-management systems available. Everything from pocket calendars to various types of daytimers to electronic schedulers can help you control your time commitments and project obligations. Start each day with a planned schedule. Try to arrive at your office 15 minutes early. You can create an expectation that you have 15 extra minutes daily simply to organize before you begin the business of the day. Make a checklist of priority items and the amount of time you can dedicate to each. Integrate your daily appointments into the checklist. If you find that you are most productive in the morning, perhaps you want to work at your desk until noon and save sales calls for the afternoon. Adjust your calendar to your own personal style for maximum effectiveness. Make it your common practice to establish firm deadlines and meet them. Set deadlines for employees. They will look to you as an example of how things are accomplished within the business. If you routinely meet deadlines, employees will be more likely to meet their deadlines as well. - (

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