Another great way to manage your time is to actually have a plan. I know, that sounds simple, doesn’t it? The best thing about the plan is to make sure you are flexible. It’s okay if you don’t get everything done in one day – plan for the week, but adjust the plan daily. Do your best to add in some extra time for distractions and interruptions, and do your best to put systems in place to avoid them.
A good example of this was the way my husband used to come home from work and plop in the chair behind me and give me a heavy ‘sigh’ – I knew he wanted me to stop what I was doing and let him vent, but he forgot to check to see if I had time for him before he just assumed he could interrupt me at any time. While it did take a while for me to break him of this habit, we did break it, and you can, too.
If you’re in the middle of a tight deadline or just needing some space, don’t be afraid to close the office door, or put up a ‘do not disturb’ sign – I even put my phone on ‘do not disturb’. Whatever it takes to minimize the distractions and interruptions that really cut into your time management.
Many years ago my sales manager said, “Fail to plan, and you plan to fail.” No truer words were ever spoken. We sometimes believe that taking the time to plan wastes time. The opposite is actually true. Take just 10-15 minutes to plan and you’ll save at least 30-minutes, if not more.
Don’t think that just because you’ve made the plan that it’s set in stone, because it’s not. While I encourage you to stick with the plan as much as possible, adjust the plan daily and you’ll feel much more organized and accomplished throughout the week.
I usually take 10-15 minutes on Friday afternoon to take a look at what projects need to be transitioned over to the following week, as well as, what new projects need to be added to the next week’s to-do’s. This allows me to hit the ground running on Monday morning so I can stay focused on the tasks at hand.
Be sure that you also include your marketing time, networking events or meetings (online and offline), accounting, errands, whatever you need to accomplish in the coming days. This will keep you free from having to squeeze in important business management requirements that sometimes get put on the back burner when we get busy with client projects.
They are all important, especially marketing your business, and must be figured into your normal daily cycle in order to stay focused.
At the end of the day on Monday, I look back at my plan and make the necessary adjustments to move forward with the rest of the week, and so on. My plan is adjusted sometimes daily, in order to keep in line with the tasks that have specific deadlines, and those that simply need to be accomplished regularly.
This doesn’t mean this is THE way to plan; this is what works for me. Try it for yourself and see how it fits. If it doesn’t, find something that will and stick with it for several weeks before trying something else.
What I hope you’ll find is that within about 3-4 weeks, it will become a habit. Once it becomes a habit, you will find it much easier to set aside the time (and it usually takes less time each week) to make sure your plan is in place.
Next week, let’s discuss the 20/80 rule and problem solving. Until then…
Jeannine Grich, owner of Accurate Business Services, a VA practice, is an author, writer, speaker, and VA Business Coach, specializing in providing professional business coaching to established and start-up virtual assistants (VA’s). For her FREE article, “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?” or “Finding or Expanding Your Niche”, Visit: http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: http://vabizcoach.com/contact-us/.