Today’s business person manages an entirely different world than the business owners of the past. Technology has opened doors to the entrepreneur that did not exist before. More people work from home or telecommunicate at least part of the time. Few people, freelancers or traditional business people, wear only one hat. From CEO’s to project managers, our jobs include a variety of duties. Keeping those duties in order is difficult, but necessary. Here are a few tips to help.
Whether you are an independent worker, a manager of a small team, or the project manager of a large corporation, time tracking is critical. Time tracking not only allows you to reduce expenses, it helps you identify unnoticed activities that rob you of your time. There are many online programs that allow you to track time from any device at any time. It is fast and reliable and makes you more effective. A great program is Clockspot. This current technology is easy to use and affordable. Identify wasted time and efforts and move them out-of-the-way. The outdated method of tracking projects, payroll, and time with pen and paper is a waste in itself. Electronic time-keeping is the only logical option.
Never underestimate your time
This is a big problem. People underestimate the amount of time it will take to do a job, Most of us know how much time our work takes, when all goes well. But we do not plan for the unexpected, or we get over-confident and put the project off until the last-minute. The results are the same. We find ourselves racing against a deadline we created. Use the “plus one” rule. If it normally takes you three-hours to do payroll (for example), allow yourself the three-hours plus an hour for the unexpected. Begin your project on time. Never allow yourself to use your hour prior to completion of the work. Be generous with your estimates. Most clients would rather you overestimate and present your work early than for you to be late with work you promised. It makes you look unprofessional at best.
Schedule and Plan (even when you don’t need to)
At the onset of each week, plan your week. I suggest you keep your planner on your computer or iPhone. Do this every week, even if your week looks like a copy of last week. Why?
- To change things up and not get stuck in routines which zap motivation
- To show you where windows of time are available for new projects or to finish old ones
- To ensure you do not forget anything that you promised to take care of
Focus and unplug
It happens to all of us. We are in the middle of a project and our email is filling up, our cell phones are going off and we find ourselves being pulled in several directions. This ensures we will accomplish little and what we do accomplish will be with great frustration. Turn your email off. Close the door and focus. Current phones are great. Set yours to flash or ring a certain way when it is your daycare or spouse calling. Set every other caller to silent. There is little that cannot wait an hour or so. If it is important they will leave a voicemail or call back.
Be responsible. Check your messages every hour to stay ahead of any emergencies that may come up. But allow yourself unplugged time to do your work.
If we want to be the best at whatever we choose to do with our time, reaching for greatness is required. Your day may seem too full, until you sit down and plan it out. Your time-tracking efforts will pay off when those extra hours are found. No one can make more hours in the day. Good business people, freelancers, and entrepreneurs make the most from the hours they have. It is not about working harder. It is about working smarter. It is about using the tools available to us to excel above the norm. We have the power to juggle our jobs and do them all well, but it is up to us to harness that power. It all begins with tracking and planning.
Guest article written by: Wendy Dessler. Wendy is a super-connector with OutreachMama and Youth Noise NJ who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. You can contact her on Twitter.
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