One of the worst problems facing any entrepreneur or business professional – either in the home-based sector or the small business sector – is the problem of managing your time. Time management probably doesn’t top YOUR list of the biggest problems you face in your business, but I tell you what – time is sneaky!
I was reminded of this as I was planning out my day today. I had just a few things that I wanted to accomplish today, and I figured out the amount of time (in my head) that I would need to get it all done. This list included writing two 500-700 word articles, going to the grocery store and making dinner for the family.
I didn’t figure I would need to schedule each of these into a time slot. But as the day went on, I found my time getting eaten away little by little as I checked each task off the list.
The grocery store came first. That should only take 45 to 60 minutes, right? Wrong! It took 20 minutes to get there (and naturally, 20 minutes to head back home), then around an hour to collect my groceries in medium daytime grocery store traffic.
See how much time my miscalculation cost me? It took nearly an hour longer than I deemed necessary to really get the job done. I forgot to factor in things like driving traffic, getting around a busy grocery store, waiting in line at the cash register, and putting all the groceries away once I got home.
So much for my time management skills in this situation! I neglected to really think about how long just ONE task would take me, and look what happened. Did I have time to make dinner and get the articles written? I did, but I had to take time out of my evening (which is often reserved for family time) in order to do so. Next time I want to do that much in such a short amount of time, I need to actually plan out segments of time for each task.
What should I have done differently? If I were on top of things today, I would have made a list of the order in which I wanted to complete each item on my list. First, I wanted to go to the grocery store. Then I wanted to come home and put dinner together. Lastly, I wanted to get my articles written.
But instead, I should have prioritized each option differently. If I had gotten the articles written first, then gone to the grocery store and made dinner, I wouldn’t have had to take time out of my evening away from friends or family in order to get them written.
And last but not least, I certainly needed to put more realistic time frames onto each task on the list. For instance, with all the experience that I have running to the grocery store, I should have known that it would take far longer to shop for the things on my list than just 45 minutes. Traffic at this time of day is always an issue, so I should have taken that into account, too. Had I done these few simple things, I would have been more able to fit everything in.
Avoid these mistakes in your own business by planning out your day with realistic expectations and time segmentation. Then you will see your goals achieved and not end up frustrated that your day wasn’t nearly as productive as you would have wished.