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Entries in time management (4)

Friday
Sep252015

Managing the Chaos for Mompreneurs

By Lara Galloway, author Moms Mean Business: A Guide for Creating a Successful Business and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur

If you—like I do—sometimes feel that you’re only barely managing to juggle motherhood and all the ins and outs of running a business, then it’s time to take a good, hard look at how you spend your time.  No matter how much I plan for it and expect it, getting back to school in the Fall always leaves me exhausted and flustered. I’m stressed out with all the deadlines that come with school programs and field trips and with the logistical nightmare of carpooling three kids to all their after school events. Add to that the renewed energy and ambition for my business that shows up for me at the end of summer, and I struggle to figure out how to get it all done. I give myself a week or two to figure out our new schedules, and then I get down to business and back to owning my time. Here are a few of my favorite tips for getting things done. 

1.  Get a routine.  Now I understand that there are those of you who will balk at the idea of a formalized routine.  But hear me out.  While it’s totally not necessary to plan your day in strict, 15-minute increments, a regular schedule of sorts will support the flexibility you value in your life, allowing you time to work on and in your business, as well as time for household chores and family events.  Start by creating a loose schedule—morning, lunchtime, afternoon, dinnertime, evening—for Monday through Friday, blocking off office hours and your regularly scheduled daily activities, like packing lunches, getting kids off to school, and so on. Knowing when you have time set aside to do certain tasks will help you get them done without stressing out all the time.

2.  Break down your office hours into manageable chunks.  This one is simple, and you can block off time by just observing your habits.  Is there a particular time you tend to work on the computer?  How about returning emails or phone calls?  Schedule time to work on your business—marketing and the things that cause your business to grow—and in your business—actual, billable hours of production or face-to-face client time. 

3.  Make appointments for yourself.  You would never stand up a client with an appointment.  Why not show yourself that same respect?  Need to work on your website redesign?  Make an appointment! How about Tuesday from 9-11am? Have a business proposal due?  Set a time for yourself to work on it.  Give importance to the things you want to accomplish by putting that time and date on the calendar, and then showing up for that appointment. 

4.  Schedule downtime.  Yes, productivity is important.  Yes, as mom entrepreneurs, it seems that 24 hours is never enough.  But taking care of yourself is a priority, and it needs to be planned for!  Try alternating tasks that require mental focus with good-for-you breaks—a walk around the block, a healthy snack, a phone conversation with a friend—whatever relaxes and recharges you.  You may be surprised at how productivity soars when you’re fresh and energized. 

These are a few tips that I use to manage my time as a busy mompreneur.  All of this will help you round out a really ideal schedule for you, adding up to more time to get things done in a way that makes you feel productive and purposeful—not overwhelmed. 

Which of these tips can you implement today to help you get control of your time? 

What other tips would you include that keep you focused and productive? 

Lara Galloway is an author, speaker, business coach and host of the Mom Biz Solutions Show podcast. Her passion is helping entrepreneurs create and run businesses that honor their priorities and make them successful and happy. Her book, Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and a Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur, published by Career Press, offers inspiration, advice, and a healthy dose of how-to. She is frequently interviewed for her expertise on work/life balance, starting and running a successful small business, marketing your business on Social Media, and creatively managing your time by Inc., Fast Company, Forbes, Crain’s, The Chicago Tribune, and More Magazine. Her extensive online influence and unique approach to coaching mompreneurs to success have led to her being named one of “30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter” and one of the “100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter.” When she’s not working, she’s wrangling her three kids with her husband, drinking good wine or micro-brewed beer, and baking something with lots of calories since food is her love language. She loves living in Michigan, especially when it's 80 degrees and sunny. Learn more and connect with her at LaraGalloway.com.

Tuesday
Oct012013

Make More Time (Really) – Part 2 of 2

By Terri Fry Brukhartz

In Part 1 of this series, I talked about how important it is to systematize certain aspects of your business. This automation can not only improve your business, but by putting a system in place, you can also create much-needed time for your personal life. When you are looking for areas which could really benefit from systemization, consider evaluating:

  • What areas of your business are getting in the way of your success?
  • Where are your frustrations?
  • What causes you stress?

Start by Writing It Down

The first step in systematizing a process is to write it down. What exactly is the process you go through to handle a sales lead? If you are struggling to get all the steps down, try the “backwards” approach. Start with the end result and then determine what you might do to achieve that end result.

Another valuable exercise is to document what everyone in your organization does. Forget job descriptions: You want to know what they actually do. This may highlight opportunities to build systems that can be leveraged throughout the organization and make training time shorter for new employees.

Often, the documentation you create in this process is all the systemization you require. The next time the task comes up, you can pull out the file and avoid figuring out how to do it all over again. It also becomes the core of the training manual for new employees, which is often one of the most valuable systems you can build.

Do the Cost-Benefit Math

Here are some guidelines for figuring out which of the myriad choices are worth the effort of creating a system:

What are the odds you will be doing this again? How often?

How hard is it to automate? Creating paper checklists is easy. Programming Outlook to sync your phone contacts and automatically generate follow up emails isn’t so easy. However, don’t give up if the software approach is too expensive or complicated.

Productivity guru David Allen sells several slick software products, but his core recommendation for organizing tasks is to create a set of clearly labeled file folders. Again, a well-documented, step-by-step manual is the core of many highly successful systems.

How painful is the task? And how painful is failing to execute it? High-value tasks, such as annual trade-shows and the like, are good candidates for setting up systems in order to reduce risks and the associated stress.

Can you hire it out? In some cases, the best system is to hand the documentation for the process to a junior employee. Hire a part-timer or outsource the project. Just make sure you do the work up front of carefully recording the steps involved, and how to achieve and measure the necessary outcomes. Otherwise, the whole thing may fall apart.

As you go through this analysis, don’t be afraid to start with the question: “Why do I do this process in the first place?” For every process you find that could be automated with a new system, you may find another that can be eliminated altogether. Systematically reviewing your business this way may be the most valuable system of all.

Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW, CPCC, has been helping business professionals make more money, do what matters and thrive on their successes since 2001. Coach Terri began her career in 1982 working for advertising agency Leo Burnett and the internationally acclaimed TV conglomerate, CBS.  In 1987, Coach Terri started The Fry Group, Inc., a publishers’ representative firm. Clients included Details Magazine, Men's Health, and Harvard Business Review. With her husband, two kids and two dogs in tow, it’s a wonder Coach Terri has enough time to get everything done! She resides in Chicago but works by phone with entrepreneurs around the world. Feel free to contact her by e-mail or call 708-386-0500.

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday
Sep262013

Make More Time (Really) – Part 1 of 2

By Terri Fry Brukhartz

Most of us run our lives on technology to organize certain aspects of our lives. Between your cellphones, planners and e-mail inboxes, you think you have organized yourself. To some extent, you have. In fact, if you ever doubt the importance of these systems, recall your panic the last time you lost your iPhone or Android containing your contacts list and calendar.

As important as these systems are, most people don’t think about systematizing other aspects of their business. By doing so, you can improve your business and create much-needed time for your personal life.

If you’ve read this far, you may be wondering, “What is she talking about? What is a system?” Both are fair questions. Systems are simply ways of automating or structuring what you want to accomplish, so that the tasks required occur automatically.

Figuring Out What to Systematize

For most of us, there are dozens of repetitive tasks that could be systematized. To identify where you can apply systems, step back from your business and try to look at it objectively.

Ask yourself questions such as these:

What is holding back your business? What are the choke points? Do you need to generate more business? Do you have prospects but they just aren’t buying? Do you convert your best prospects but lose them through poor follow-through? Really taking a long, hard look at the pluses and minuses of your ability to attract and maintain customers will provide you with the information you need to systematize how you do business in the future.

Where are your frustrations? This is an important question for two reasons. First, you’re more likely to be frustrated if you are repeating tasks that you hate doing. Second, you are going to be frustrated if you have to relearn a task or “recreate the wheel” every time you have to do something you don’t do very often.

What causes you stress? Is it preparing for quarterly performance reviews? Finalizing your printed catalog? Preparing for your annual make-or-break trade show? Even if you know the steps by heart, systematizing at least part of these stress-inducing activities could yield big benefits to your business—and your well-being.

By figuring out the answers to these questions, you can begin to see what areas of your life could benefit from creating a system. This will not only provide you with some much-needed relief, but also more time for yourself. Read Part 2 of this blog to learn how to create a system to help you save time.

Terri Fry Brukhartz, LCSW, CPCC, has been helping business professionals make more money, do what matters and thrive on their successes since 2001. Coach Terri began her career in 1982 working for advertising agency Leo Burnett and the internationally acclaimed TV conglomerate, CBS.  In 1987, Coach Terri started The Fry Group, Inc., a publishers’ representative firm. Clients included Details Magazine, Men's Health, and Harvard Business Review. With her husband, two kids and dog in tow, it’s a wonder Coach Terri has enough time to get everything done! She resides in Chicago but works by phone with entrepreneurs around the world. Feel free to contact her by e-mail or call 708-386-0500.

Thursday
May302013

3 Questions to Ask Yourself if Your Time Keeps Running OUT!

By Mindee Doney

When my clients are struggling with a task in their business I’m often amazed at how it fixes itself with a simple awareness of how they are spending their time. Their sales are not as strong as they would like but they can’t tell me the last time they spent a dedicated day working with brokers, distributors or cold calling. They wish they had more PR but all they have done is tweet and ping the Today Show staff on and off.  Their bookkeeping is a mess and they have no idea if they are actually making money – also no idea when they last organized their receipts and expenses.  It all comes down to a connection between your mind, body and heart in how you are spending your time.

Regular awareness of what you are doing is crucial to successful time management. You can’t be so wrapped up in a reactive state of putting out fires all day that you forget you have the ability to change the situation you are in. To control who you are with, what you are working on and what your attitude is in the middle of it all.  You own the energy that brings you the circumstances of your day.  Your response time, temperament and chosen priorities connect all the people, places and experiences in your life. They may or may not come together just the way you envisioned them, but recognizing your decision-making role in all of it will always find you better off when seeking changes

An honest look in the mirror is usually the best place to start if you are constantly feeling like you are out of time.  What does your typical day look like? What tasks take up most of your time? What has been your attitude during tasks you don’t necessarily enjoy? What have you been ignoring? What do you desire to have more of?  

When you find yourself in those difficult moments, accepting the truth of how and why you got there is the first step to getting out.  Here are a 3 questions I ask myself often to stay focused and intentional with my time:

1. Do I need this or just want this?  If it is not critical to what matters most to me, I let it go. Insatiability is a Mompreneurs worst enemy. Set your benchmarks for what you truly need (amount of time with family, time to exercise, time with partner, time for yourself, time in business). Make diligent choices to get all of what you need first. Including money. You need to know…. how much you need to work… for what you need to make… to pay for what you need to live. Not your new outfit or fancy trip or weekly pedicures or housecleaners, only what you need. Let’s hope you know those are wants, not needs.

2. What is MOST important for me to accomplish right now? I make a 30-60-90 list of big picture tasks instead of a daily to do list. I organize it by urgency and check in with it often. It lets me know when and how to allocate my time for the big picture instead of getting so wrapped up in the little details. It also gives me a great sense of accomplishment in the times I am feeling less than productive or guilty for what I haven’t gotten to yet.

3. How do I want to feel when I go to bed tonight? Productive, Energized, Loved, Tired – what can I do today to get to the heart of those emotions. Not all days are the same. Weekends I want to feel relaxed and loved and blessed for time with my family. Work days I want to feel energized and productive and successful. I make regular decisions with activities and time management to achieve those emotion.

Be aware of the time you share. Especially in the early years of running a business, time is just as important as money and your product or service.  Unlike those things though, you cannot earn or make more of it. Once it’s gone its gone forever. Take the “time” to truly know where you want it to go and check in with yourself often.

Be Well, Dream Big, Live Simply!

Mindee Doney:: Author, Inventor (Boogie Wipes®), Idea Consultant.Tired of chasing her kids runny noses, Mindee herself ran with an idea she had for a saline infused nose wipe she called a Boogie Wipe ®. In 2007, she partnered with Julie Pickens and by 2011 grew her concept, to $12 million in sales, with distribution to 50,000 retail locations in 8 countries.  She managed all PR, marketing and branding herself and landed Boogie Wipes® on the Today Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutch, Good Morning America, in People Magazine, The NY Times and countless others.  She is the author of Get your Own Juicebox – Confident Moms raising Capable Kids and consults an exclusive group of start-ups through her company Juice Box Consulting.