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Time management is never an easy thing for entrepreneurs, especially when starting out. There is so much to do: sell, service, market, keep the books…when do you get a break?
I’m chuckling to myself as I write this blog post because I finally feel after years of trying I feel as though I’ve finally gotten a handle on managing my time. I have three children, a husband, a mom, two brothers and sisters-in-law who live close by, as well as friends and a thriving business, and as of May 7th, I have a brand new baby. I have some serious time-management adjusting to do!
Today I’m going to focus on those of you just starting out. When you start your business, you will find that you have more to do than hours in the day (assuming you like to eat and sleep). There is a learning curve when you are starting, and sometimes it’s difficult to prioritize.
I remember when I started my company, my days felt quite chaotic. I would rush to networking meetings, do sales calls with potential clients, attend meetings with existing clients and run back to the office to work on marketing materials and answer email (no smartphones back then). The two things that I hated to do were to keep the books and to organize my desk (I still do. God bless Karen!). As a result, the books were constantly neglected, my computer files were haphazardly saved and my desk looked like someone dumped a truck full of paper on it.
When I finally had to catch up on bookkeeping, it took much longer than it would have if I just kept up with it. I never filed my papers. I just made a huge to-be-filed folder…which led to utter panic when I needed one of those neglected papers.
What would I have done differently if I had the chance?
- Book appointments wisely. Book meetings outside of the office only two or three days a week.
- Book those outside meetings by location. You will save time and gas if you schedule your meetings so that you don’t have to drive back and forth across town several times.
- Block your time in the office. Make a list of tasks you have to do on a daily basis and assign times to complete them. This means don’t jump every time you see an email cross your computer screen; in fact, turn off the audio alerts so you don’t get distracted.
- Ignore the phone as much as possible. If you don’t recognize a phone number, by all means answer it. The sooner you talk to a potential customer, the better. If the call is from a vendor-buddy, chat with him later.
- Hire someone to complete tasks you don’t enjoy. If I had stretched a bit to hire someone to keep my books on a part-time basis, it would have saved me hours of frustration.
- Don’t be impatient. Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t be either. Make reasonable demands of your time and check off your accomplishments as you get them done.
It’s also important that you save time for recreation as well, so you don’t get burned out. You may not be the freewheeling person you were as a student, or someone who can leave work at the office when the day is done, but it is critical to carve out time for family and friends.
So, new entrepreneurs, share your tips with us on how you manage your time. Post here!