Finding the Time to Run Your Small Business

Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got – Art Buchwald.

Can you believe it’s aleady May next week! Where is that time going? We’ll be half way through the year before we know it and isn’t it rushing past? Have you achieved your goals so far this year or is it all just zooming past in a blur and without anything significant being achieved?

One subject that comes up repeatedly with my clients is that of time ‘ or rather the lack of it. Finding the time to spend developing your business whether you are pre-launch and at the preparation/research stage; or you’re up and running and fitting it around your children, a full time job or life in general, can be tricky.

Working from home isn’t easy. There’s no boss to keep you on the straight and narrow and there are so many distractions calling out for your attention ‘ ‘I’ll just load the washing machine’, ‘the lawn needs mowing’. Finding the time your business needs and then actually keeping it can be an uphill struggle.

GOOD NEWS! I’m going to give you a strategy that really works. I have made use of this strategy many times and it always ensures that I spend the time necessary on my current project and at the same time still maintain that essential healthy work/life balance.

The first thing to do is to decide how many hours each week you want to spend developing your business. Sounds logical doesn’t it? But so many of us fall into the trap of working on it as and when we can fit it in, or when we’re in the right mood. That will get you absolutely nowhere and fast!

It is absolutely essential that you first fix the number of hours you want to work on developing your business and then work backwards from there to see how you can fit those hours in!

The number of hours you plump for will vary according to the stage your business is at right now. What does your business really need right now that you can afford to give? If it’s pre-launch and you are researching, studying and preparing you may decide that 2, 5 or 10 hours a week is just right. If you’re up and running then maybe it’s 20, 25 or 30 hours a week.

Always bear in mind that it is essential to maintain a healthy work/life balance. After all what on Earth is the point of running your own business if you’re going to work yourself into the ground doing it? So no answers of 60 hours please! When your business is fully fledged what is your goal for the number of hours you want to be working on it? Start as you mean to go on.

My aim is to work 25 hours per week on my business. Quite tricky at the moment with my youngest child at the age of 1, but it can be done. And yes I can do it and still maintain a great work/life balance.

Now get a piece of paper and turn it sideways into landscape orientation. Write the 7 days of the week across the top and divide the page into columns, one column for each day. We are going to plan each day hour by hour, so you will position each entry within any given day according to its time (so if you do something at 1.00 til 2.00 on any given day write it about half way down the column).

To start your Time Plan first write down at the top of the page the number of hours you have decided to spend on developing and working on your business and put a big circle around it.

Next within each day write down any regular weekly events which are immovable. These will include things like doing the school run; being at work if you are developing your business around a full time job; regular commitments required by your business (running a course; coaching a client).

Now write down all other events which have to happen sometime every week and decide where you are going to put them. These could be doing the housework or shopping ‘ anything that is not time spent on your business. Block out the rough amount of time these events take up.

Now block out some extra time to allow for things which don’t come up every week but which do need to be done every now and then ‘ a contingency time if you like where you can fit in mowing the lawn if it needs it.

Next you need to make sure you block out the right amount of time for you and your family. Remember that work/life balance!

When you’ve come up with everything that you must spend time on each week, look at your plan so far. Ask yourself:

* Where can I realistically fit in the hours I want to work on my business?

* What could I do to fit them in?

* What else could I do?

Once again always ensure that you keep a healthy work/life balance! If you cannot do this without exhausting yourself then re-visit some things on your plan:

* Do all these things really have to be done every week?

* Is there anything I could drop or do fortnightly?

* Are the number of hours I’ve chosen to work on my business necessary and are they realistic at this time?

Once you have completed your time plan, pin it up where you will see it every day ‘ AND STICK TO IT. Ok if it’s not working then by all means re-visit it and make some changesArticle Submission, but if it does work then NO EXCUSES!

There is one last thing that is absolutely vital! When you are in one of your allocated work times ‘ YOU ARE AT WORK. Treat that time as sacrosanct. Treat it as if you are employed and the boss is looking. Make sure you will not be disturbed by anything or anyone unrelated to your business. Do not be tempted to think ‘I’ll just empty the washing machine’ or ‘That lawn really does need mowing’. Everything is accounted for and has its own place in the Time Plan. YOU ARE AT WORK.

When you follow these guidelines it’s amazing how much you can suddenly get done; it’s amazing how your motivation to work on your business (even those things you’ve procrastinating over) suddenly shoots through the roof; it’s amazing how much you move forward!

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