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We’re all time poor in business. Right? Red tape jobs for governments such as tax, super, workers compensation insurance and many more makes business life squeezed. And then there is looking after customers and staff. Throw in family responsibilities and your time bank account is definitely overdrawn.

If your poverty was connected to a lack of money, you might go to a bank manager or accountant to fix up the problem. If people in business in these circumstances don’t get cash flow help, they will pretty soon find themselves out of business.

Managing time is not just about finding relaxation space for you, the owner/manager, it is about getting jobs done efficiently, raising your own productivity, reducing mistakes and costly mishaps. It makes your business look more professional and it creates more certainty in the workplace which will please staff.

Here are a few tips to manage your time. Ray Prince, the author of 620,000 Is All You’ve Got, tells everyone in business not to become addicted to being busy all of the time.

The goal isn’t to make time for you to play golf or to go for a swim, though if that helps you do business better, then it should be. The trick is to rearrange your time so you use it better, more effectively.

Better time management should, in Michael Gerber’s E-Myth terminology, mean that you find more time to work on your business, rather than in it.

You wind up time to network, to follow up, to anticipate customer needs, to train workers and to put out new proposals, rather than answering phone calls, licking envelopes, filling out forms and maybe cleaning the office. This is sometimes called ‘administrivia’ which hardly adds to the bottom line.

To create a better time management plan for you in your business, star by defining your current time usage with all of its chaos and confusion. Try keeping a time log book with you and write down what you do for two weeks.

Business writer, Rosemary Ogilvie, recommends dissecting your diary and colour coding the different activities, but given the fact that a lot of time management failures don’t keep diaries accurately, it might be a waste of time.

Colouring the different jobs you do, or should do, would quickly tell you where you are spending your time. It could help you rearrange it for more effective time management.

The experts say the smart starting point is to actually draw up a plan for spending your time. Prince says 15 minutes at the start of a day planning what you are going to do is not a cost, but an investment.

He also says you have to learn to delegate which means trusting your employees and explaining tasks to them properly. If you haven’t staff, then think about getting a contractor in occasionally to help you.

A bookkeeper or a personal assistant to do filing, take messages and do run your diary could be a great time management investment. By the way, when you do hand over a job, don’t freak if they do it as well as you, simply train them a little and then let go.

Prince says you should be regularly asking yourself, am I making good use of my time? Sitting in a cab on the way to a meeting could be the time to call a few people. Making time to make all of your phone calls or your e-mail answers in one go could be very time-saving.

Another rule is not to put off dealing with an issue unless you plan to do those sorts of tasks all in one go in a specially allocated time.

For the messy types in life, fix up your habit for the purposes of doing work in your business. The experts argue that a confused, chaotic desk ultimately reflects on your business. Even the creative type must be organised and reliable to make life easy for customers and staff.

Day Timers, a business that sells organisation say you can fix up a lot in four steps.

First, find time to tackle the problem. You might need to use a weekend. Second, if the clutter is massive, break it down by doing manageable amounts. One box or pile at a time is a good idea.

Third, eliminate anything not needed for work including photos, magazines you promised yourself you would read, etc.

And fourth, use the old rule ‘when in doubt, chuck it out’.
Other organisation tips include explore your computer software as there are often organization assistants there. Kill procrastination and don’t go overboard with unproductive, non-money-making perfectionism. Ogilvie argues that you should save perfectionism for customer service and she is spot on.

Look, I could go on for ages about this and I recommend that you invest some quality time in getting your organisation act together. It won’t only save you time, it will save you money but also the professionalism it bestows upon you will end up giving what we in business most enjoy — MONEY!

Published on: Monday, June 29, 2009

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