Posted: 2007-07-05 / Author: Dawn-Elise Snipes
Time Management For EntrepreneursTime Management For Entrepreneurs: Time...It is ever moving and so easy to lose track of. Whether you are an engineer, a supervisor, a counselor or a nurse, productivity is important. We are all controlled by cost-effectiveness and billable hours. In this article, we will discuss several time wasters and ways to increase your productivity.
1. Identify, eliminate, prioritize, delegate
You cannot be expected to do everything. So often we feel so pulled in each direction that we do not get anything done. Make a list of everything you "need" to do and when it must be done. For some people this means a detailed description of what needs to be done and a daily schedule. For others, a list can be just that---a list. Keep three pages for each day: The things that MUST be done (i.e. pay the electric bill), things you would like to do (such as mow the yard) and things you will do if you have time (rearrange your sock drawer). From that list, eliminate anything that is not necessary, prioritize what is left and delegate whenever possible. When I ran a 24-hour facility, I often heard my counselors complaining that they did not have time to do this or that. I knew that my midnight person was watching television all night. We got together and I helped my employeesed identify things they could delegate to her. My father was an architect. He hated doing mundane things like copying blueprints or driving (yes, this was before CAD and email) the designs over to the engineer. He delegated those tasks to my step mother.
2. Translate your priorities into concrete goals, with component activities.
For engineers, this is much like project management. THe only difference is that the project is your time. Break each goal into smaller steps needed to achieve the goal. Identify the requirements and resources you need related to each activity step and set beginning and ending times. This helps you organise for success and have what you need to move forward towards goal attainment. Pinpointing resources, setting deadlines and having a central contact person is especially important if accomplishment of your goal requires the cooperation or assistance of other people.
3. Evaluate ways you procrastinate.
Once you are organized, have goals and resources, then failure to move forward is psychological. Provide rewards to yourself for working on the project for a defined period of time or until you achieve a set goal. For example, you can go play a round of golf after you work on the project for 1 hour. Identify reasons the task is in your best interest: it will help you get a promotion, make you healthier, make your spouse happier. Remind yourself of these to keep yourself motivated. Get a buddy. I am social and cannot stand to be couped up by myself all day. I take my laptop and work at the library, park or coffee shop. Eventhough the people there are not working with me per se, they make my work feel less like drugery. Ask yourself why you are procrastinating. Do you hate what you are about to do? Is there anyway you can make it tolerable?
4. Learn to say "No" to opportunities and requests that take your time and don't move you forward towards goal attainment.
To the extent feasible, saying "no" is an important safeguard of your time. Doing so with courtesy and conviction will make it easier to say "yes" at a later date and simultaneously affirm your commitment to yourself to follow through on your scheduled activities. This also means shutting your door so people do not just aimlessly drop by to chat.
5. Just do it
My mentor once told me to just do 15 minutes. You can do anything for 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes you are still miserable, stop. I nearly always found that I started intending to only do 15 minutes and 2 hours later I was emerging from the study. Yu can also set aside one day each week to do the dreaded tasks. For me it was chart reviews. I would spend every Friday doing chart reviews.
6. Set a schedule
Some people do not like rigid schedules, but most people do well with some sort of routine. Once you finish your goals for the day, relax. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. If you reward yourself for a job well done, you will be more motivated to plow through what you have to do each day.
7. Identify your "high energy" times
Everyone in my family is a morning person. We are most focused, energetic and productive before 2pm. For me, 4:30am is a great time. For my kids and husband it is more like 8am. Nevertheless, if you can work during your peak hours, you will get things done a lot more quickly. I have held several jobs that allowed me to set my own schedule. The companies got a lot more out of me because I could take advantage of my personal rhythms. Many companies are moving toward performance based work instead of presence based work.
Have one email for work and one for home. This will prevent you from getting sucked into email la-la land. Have people communicate withyou by email. They are much more likely to be direct if they have to type. Additionally, you have a record of your conversation to which you can refer back. Just remember your email etiquette. ALL CAPS or using multiple punctuation marks is quite rude and construed as yelling and generally throwing a tantrum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Since there is no chance for vocal inflection, it is better to make emails overly polite.
9. Get enough rest
Without adequate rest it is difficult to concentrate and you will make needless mistakes. Keep a pad and pencil by your bed to jot down anything that comes into your mind so you do not dwell on it and you can rest more easily.
10. Get interns
Most professional colleges (engineering, building construction, counseling, addictions, rehabilitation) require students to have done at least one internship before entering the program and then two more while in the program. This is free labor. WHen students apply for an internship with you, just make sure you have a job description and get references from at least 1 professor and 1 prior employer to make sure they won't waste your time. They NEED a good recommendation from you so they usually go above and beyond the call to do a good job.
Try implementing these things for yourself and in your office. You will find that you save a lot of time and have higher morale and productivity.
About the Author: Dr. Snipes currently runs two online continuing education sites Continuing Education for Engineers and online continuing education for counselors, addictions professionals and social workers.
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