As a small business owner and job seeker, managing your time and expectations are extremely important if you want to maintain the proper focus. I struggle with this issue and can be easily distracted by a phone call or a tendency to check my emails more often than is probably needed.
Time management is one of those skills no one teaches you in school but you have to learn. It doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t organize information well enough to take it in. And it doesn’t matter how skilled you are if procrastination keeps you from getting your work done..
I’m going to share some of my favorite time management skills in this post. I hope they will help you.
• Use your peak productivity time well and make sure you get sufficient rest. Coffee will not assist you forever. It’s OK to take breaks throughout the day. Some of us are ‘morning people’ others are ‘night owls.’ You know what your strengths and weaknesses are better than me
• Remember that everyone has the same time in a day. It’s most important to know how you structure your day and manage your time that makes the difference. Know the best days and times to target your prospective clients or targeted companies – which may be different than you first think.
• Set daily goals for yourself and making sure you don’t work past your burn out time. This might include networking in person, making follow-up calls, writing a business proposal or putting a budget together – each day complete one specific goal – you’ll feel much better being able to check something off your ‘to do’ list.t
• It’s absolutely OK to block out some non-planned activities. Life happens and there will also be some unexpected event or emergencies to deal with. Or maybe you’re under the weather.
• Plan for some specific time away from the computer and phone, 30 minutes a day. By that, I don’t mean a coffee break or to eat a meal. Talk a walk, run some errands, anything to take your mind off your business. Meet a friend for a cup of coffee.
• Start your day by prioritizing what you need to get done (To-do list!). Block time out on your calendar each day to ensure you get work done.
• When you are on a deadline and you need to finish something – Close your door (if you have one), put your phone on “send to voicemail”, close your email, and turn off the instant messenger. It is liberating! Not everything is urgent; yes, some things can wait until the next day
• Minimizing distractions – distractions are a big time waster. A lot of us have this constant urge to check our email every 15 minutes. There are many other common distractions and it is important to limit them.
• Make sure social networks serve your purpose. Do you really need to be on all of them? Pick one or two that are really important and discard the rest. Be careful not to check your social sites while at work. It is a big time waster even if big brother is not watching.
• Decide the time or times when you will check mail and stick to those times. There will always be some distracting message in your in box. Keep your emails short. That is how they are meant to be. Use the phone in preference to email where feasible.
• My personal favorite – cut the clutter. Keep a clean desk and desktop, clutter can be very distracting.
• Spend less time on the job boards (like CareerBuilder, Monster, Dice and Indeed). That might mean using LinkedIn to research companies and connections at those companies or it might mean following up on an article of interest.
• Know your target company or companies whether it will be for job search or to find business partners. Starting out, that’s one of the most important things to consider. If you’re not sure what you want to do, it’ll be hard for you to communicate that to another client or company
• Yes weekends are a time to take a break, but not entirely. Use weekends to review the previous week’s successes (and failures) which will give you the opportunity to prepare your upcoming week. The goal is to hit the ground running on Monday morning.
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