Back to School Time Management
by Jill Hart
The kids are back in school and it feels like you should have a lot of extra time on your hands. Why aren't you able to accomplish all that needs to be done? When you work at home, managing your time is key to running a successful business. Here are five tips to get the most out of the time when kids are in school.
1. Set your priorities - It's important to map out not only what needs to be accomplished during the time that you have allotted each day, but also what things are most important. Make a list of the tasks that need to be accomplished and then rank them according to deadline, desire to complete, etc. Keep in mind that the more you can do while the kids are in school, the more time you'll have with them the rest of the day. If at all possible, make time with you spouse and children the center of your day and try to work around it.
2. Schedule your time - Now that you know what order your list needs to be accomplished in, take the time to write out a schedule of how and when you will complete each item. This will give you a tangible way to see your progress each day. Your schedule doesn't need to be set in stone - it needs to be somewhat flexible so that it doesn't become burdensome. Having a plan of action will help you avoid distractions and accomplish more during the time you have available.
3. Delegate - Whenever possible, delegate tasks that can be accomplished by others. Have your kids stuff envelopes, have hubby print out business cards for you, and if you have a virtual assistant (VA), allow them to do some of the online work or phone calls for you. The best thing I've done for my business this last year is to hire a virtual assistant. She is fast, efficient and saves me a lot of time. I can be working with clients and making sales while she handles my article distribution and other tasks. The time saved is well worth the money spent.
4. Let the phone ring - Customer service is one of the most important parts of running a home-based business. Being available for your customers and being willing to answer questions is what will set you apart from the many other businesses out there. However, if you are working to accomplish a task that is important to your business it may be necessary to allow the phone to ring and the answering machine to handle some calls. I'm not suggesting that you ignore your customers, but that you use your answering machine for what it is - a message service. By knowing who has called and what they need, you can call your customers back when you have time to work with them without feeling rushed. Also, by knowing what your customers need before your speak with them you can make preparations ahead of time, thus spending less time on the phone and saving both yourself and customer time.
5. Take a Break - One of the biggest mistakes of work-at-home moms is to work too much. Because we are building our own businesses we feel that we will not succeed unless we're working - or at least thinking about work twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This simply isn't true. Taking care of yourself is one of the best things that you can do for your business. Focusing on something other than your business can give you clarity and help you avoid burn-out.
Running a home-based business while your children are in school is possible, but it does take efficiency and organization. It's very important that you set your priorities and your schedule your time in a way that is flexible and that allows you to get the most accomplished in the time that you have available. Don't get discouraged if it seems like you're not accomplishing much some days. Rest, go easy on yourself and do your best.