Courtesy navigation

Blog posts tagged time management

Six tips to prevent important tasks from falling through the cracks

August 27, 2014 by Guest Blogger

Whether you’re a sole trader or manage many employees, you must ensure that important work gets done to a high standard and on time. So how do you prevent important tasks from being neglected?

1 Stop doing everything yourself

Share the load with people who are stronger in areas where you are weaker. The work will get done; you’ll feel less stressed; and your business will benefit.

2 Give away low-skill, low-fun tasks first

The tasks to delegate are the ones that are least enjoyable and require less-skill. Why? Because they are: easier to train others to do; cheapest to hire for; and often create the most distractions.

3 Match the correct person to the role

Before you hire, define the role along with responsibilities and desired output. Then match that against a few key considerations:

  • Do they have the right skills for the job?
  • Does their personality type match the tasks they'll be doing?
  • Are they enthusiastic about the job?

4 Develop a system

Introducing a system is critical if you want to ensure tasks don’t fall through the cracks. It will also you help you manage your team.

  • Define the outcome. Ensure team members know exactly what is expected of them.
  • Timeline everything. Start with the date when the result needs to be achieved and plan backward from there.
  • Ask employees to recap. Hear it in their words and make sure they have understood your instructions.
  • Include a touch point in your diary. Mid-way through the project make sure everything is on track. If you wait until the end – it may be too late to deal with serious issues.
  • Install a task-management system. A basic spreadsheet can be used to manage tasks.

5 Document everything you do

Create concise but comprehensive documentation and it will feed back into your business by making the training of new hires a breeze, ensuring your business runs without interruption. Remember to keep it concise and simple:

  • Limit yourself to one-page documents.
  • Make use of checklists and bullet points.

6 Use a Google Drive spreadsheet

At the London Coaching Group, we have an efficient team that works very closely. And we exchange barely any emails.

What you need:

  • A Google account (which is free) and an activated Google Drive (also free).
  • A Google Spreadsheet within Google Drive (click Create > Spreadsheet). This works much like an Excel Spreadsheet. It must also be shared with your team (click on Share in the top right).

You then create column headings for:

  • Task description.
  • Due date.
  • Date started (filled in by your team to indicate when work on a task has begun).
  • Date complete (filled in by your team to let you know a task is ready for review).
  • Team Qs/comments (filled in by the team if they have any comments about the task).
  • Leader responses (filled in by you, giving comments to the team).

So how do we use this?

Whenever a task comes to mind, I, as the team leader, add it to the spreadsheet straight away. My team then fills in the fields accordingly. Once a task has a "Date complete" I double-check the task. Once I've double-checked and it's done, I delete it from this list. Only I can delete.

My team and I keep this document open during our working day. It acts as our communal 'to-do' list. Everyone is aware of the status of all other projects, which makes meetings a breeze and ensures nothing falls through the cracks.

By using the tips and tools above you can run your business and your projects smoothly and efficiently. You will be 100% in control of each project, which reduces stress and that feeling of a ‘heavy load’. So you’ll have more time to work on your business and its future.

Copyright © Shweta Jhajharia 2014. Shweta is an award-winning business coach and founder of The London Coaching Group.

Further reading

Are you making the best use of your time?

May 02, 2013 by Vicki Wusche

Are you making best use of your time?/clock covering businesswoman's face{{}}We all have exactly the same number of hours in a day, so why do some people seem to have enough time to do everything they want to do and others never seem to have enough?

If you want to be more successful, you need to use your time in a way that brings you the success you want. To do this you need to understand how you use your time and what it is worth.

A few years ago I sat down and worked out what my time was worth and how I wanted to spend it, and for the past two years my annual income has doubled. Here are my tips:

Start by looking at how you spend your time - the balance between business activities and the rest of your life. I suggest you go through your diary and colour-code the time as follows: 

  1. Income Generation – Green – direct hours that clients are paying for.
  2. Income Speculation – Blue – time spent looking for opportunities to invoice.
  3. Income Saving or admin – Amber – time spent preparing accounts, meeting your accountant – anything that would save your business money, or prevent money being wasted.
  4. Fun (income spending) – Red – everything else (eg social time, personal time, anything that was not work-related).

Notice how many weekends and evenings you are using for business meetings and events. Ask yourself if you are happy with this and if it’s bringing you the benefit you want. If so – great. If not – don’t do it anymore.

Next, understand how your daily activities contribute to your overall business (and life) goals. For example, if you want to double your turnover, you need to work out what your time is worth in financial terms. Here is how: 

  1. Choose your target salary for the year and divide it by 10 months (10 months allows for time off over Christmas, Easter and other holidays.)
  2. Then divide your monthly figure by eight.
    On average (and to make the maths easier) there are 20 working days in a four-week month. As business-owners we need to work on our business as well as in our business – from experience I know that on average two days per week are invoice-able.
  3. This gives you a daily invoice rate, but that does not allow for the cost of conducting business or tax.
  4. Double this figure to allow for the cost of doing business.
  5. Divide this by eight (if we assume an eight-hour day) to give you your hourly rate.

As soon as I doubled my income generation hours (green) and reduced the other hours, my turnover doubled. Last year it doubled again.

Here are some tips to help you focus:

  1. Have a purpose, aim or goal for a period of time. You can pick short goals like “to relax this weekend”, “to finish this report”, or larger financial goals “to double my turnover this financial year”.
  2. Review the last month/week of your diary. How did you spend your time against the classifications of income generation, income speculation, income saving or fun? Are you happy with that outcome?
  3. If your income is less than you would like, I suggest that you are not generating enough income (or invoice-able time), so adjust the balance.
  4. Ask yourself the question – “Did my ‘activities’ contribute to my goal or purpose?” Is this how I want to spend my time? Think about the balance you are experiencing – lifestyle versus income.
  5. Work out what your time is worth. You can use this to choose between certain business activities. It can help you recognise that a bookkeeper, for example, is worth every penny, because you reuse the time gained to work for and invoice your own clients. You can make informed decisions about certain activities and their business value.

Time and money are our two greatest assets. If we use them well we can create the life, business and lifestyle that we choose. It is our personal experience of time that matters. Are you happy with how you spend your time? If not then I suggest you review how you currently use your time. Work out what your time is worth – do the maths. Think about what is the best use of your time if you are to meet your goals.

In just 20 months, Vicki Wusche made the transition from single mother on limited income to being financially independent and having a property portfolio worth £2m. She runs a successful business that sources property for other investors, teaches people how to invest in property and has written many popular books on the subject. 

Best laid plans

July 12, 2010 by www.inafishbowl.com

After a very busy period planning for a major consumer show at the NEC and other important activities, I was looking forward to a few quieter days in the office, whilst Tony, my production guy come right hand, was fulfilling weekly orders and perfecting the new product to send samples of later on this week.

However... best laid plans. A large order arrived today marked URGENT and I need to drop what I’m doing yet again and come to the rescue.

Customer service vs business strategy

My customers come first. But the stuff I need to do this week is strategic stuff, things that move the business forward. I’m torn and, quite frankly, I’m tired. If I don’t come to the rescue the orders won’t be complete in time and, if I do, then I have to work all hours to do the strategic stuff in the night. And to make matters worse, Tony in production told me ages ago that he needed two days off this week.

You may think that this is partly due to bad planning on the production side and that I should hold stock. However, our products are chilled, with no preservatives, and have a short shelf life (30 days from production), so I need to produce and ship quickly so the distributors and the shops get products with a decent shelf life.

It looks like I’m up until 2am again working for a few days! Oh well, I don’t mind, it’s a super exciting time and being stretched to fulfil orders is a nice problem to have. I just have to make sure I do the strategic stuff as well so that I am working on my business as well as in it!

You can find out more about Marcela on the new interactive business website www.inafishbowl.com

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share

The real cost of flexible working and being a WAHM

March 12, 2010 by

Working for yourself is certainly one way in which to take control of your working hours, be more flexible with childcare arrangements and, more importantly, spend more time with your children when they need you. However, nothing in life is for free: everything has a cost attached. So what is the cost for work at home mums?

The house, the husband/partner/significant other and the children all continue to need you, and make demands on your time, but there is also a ‘New Kid on The Block’ – your business. For that to survive and be successful it also needs as much care and attention as a new-born baby. So when all these demands has been squeezed into a day… well there aren’t many minutes left.

On a personal level, being able to do the school run is a very important and key reason for choosing to work for myself. However, the pay off for that is a shortened working day, which results in working evenings and weekends. This in turn impacts on my relaxation time and time with my husband. So how do you counteract this?

Time management is one of the hottest topics around as we seem to be under pressure to cram more and more into each day. Mums generally are very adept at both multi-tasking and fitting 48 hours worth of tasks and activities into a day. Where the problem may lie is in delegation and prioritising, especially when it comes to ensuring we still have time for ourselves and our partners.

If you start with 24 hours and all the things that have to be fitted in, you will quickly come to the conclusion that cutbacks need to be made. The trick is to ensure that every ‘department’ should take a part in these cutbacks. So rather than the ‘me time’ and ‘us time’ sections being all but eroded, why not look to all areas. Highest on my own list for a cutback is housework, and it doesn’t take me a lot of encouragement to miss the dusting for a week or leave the ironing pile for another day. Likewise, much as I love cooking, there are times when the usual home-cooked-from-scratch meal is replaced by a take away or convenience food, and – surprise surprise - the world doesn’t end!

The majority of mums take the decision to work for themselves because of their children. However if this enables you take and collect your children from school and be with them in the holidays, then you shouldn’t feel guilty if Daddy does bedtime or you spend three hours working at the weekend; they will benefit more from the key times you are there compared to paid employment. Equally it is good to have your partner onside who can help understand that your attention and energy is being drawn in a new direction, but will support you and understands that in the long term this is a solution which will benefit you all.

Most important of all is ‘you’ time. This in my experience is the first to go when working for yourself and takes real strength of character to maintain; you have never ending to-do list, the housework is falling behind and the family are missing your undivided attention. How do you justify time for you, let alone actually find it? Firstly you need to re-train yourself; not an easy job if delegation is not one of your strengths or you are used to being 'mistress' of the home. Secondly you need to gradually retrain the rest of the family that Mummy doesn’t do everything, and accept that their way isn’t the wrong way.

And finally, convincing yourself that you deserve that time; you work hard all seven days of the week for the benefit of the family… so even if you only manage a half hour’s peace with a G & T in the bath, you truly need and deserve it. Without you, neither the business nor the family would be so successful. Cheers!

Sam Pearce & Helen Woodham, Mum's The Boss

A version of this post originally appeared on Mum's The Blog

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share

Not for the house-proud

March 11, 2010 by Rachael Dunseath

Being a mum can be challenging, being a business woman can be challenging too. Trying to do both at once can be mind-boggling. I fight shy of the term mumpreneur, but if it suits you, then that's what I am. I run my small business from home and I am also full-time mum to two pre-schoolers.

I always swore I wouldn't and couldn't run a business, house and family at once and I was right, something had to give and sadly that was housework! If inspiration strikes but you think circumstances prevent you from acting on it, then ignore your head and go with your heart. Running your own business is a rewarding, fun, busy add-on to family life and just the challenge my poor nappy-brain needed. So a few tips if you fancy joining me on a self-employed mum adventure:

  • Plan, plan and plan some more. Time will be the biggest constraint on your business, so make sure you make the most of every bit of time you have. All of the usual business management tools work well: to-do lists, diary systems, electronic reminders. I've always preferred telephone contact to email, but am finding email works better for me now. It's off your to do list, even if the person at the other end can't help you there and then.
  • If you are house proud then don't do it! There are not enough hours in the day to do everything and your business and family should come first. If you can't sit and work at the kitchen table whilst stoically ignoring the pile of laundry and washing-up then this isn't for you. Ignore the chores and don't feel guilty, if you've got one get your other half to step up his cleaning contribution.
  • Set targets for the day. Aim to actually complete one task a day, that way you will feel that you are progressing your business plan.
  • Keep special family time. Make sure you set aside time in the day that is just for you and the children, no interruptions. Or you'll get to the end of the day feeling that you've done neither job well.
  • Use TV wisely. DD2 still has a nap but DD1 conveniently gave hers up as I launched the business. We now have quiet time, no TV during the rest of the day (hopefully) but she watches for a chunk in the middle of the day while I crack on. Don't be worried about using the TV to help, all children watch TV, use it wisely to get the most done.
  • Don't underestimate the power of social media. It allows you to network quickly and cheaply from home, even if there is chaos all around you. Keep your laptop open and logged on and then you can pop in when you have five minutes.
  • Make time for yourself. You will inevitably do most of your work after their bedtime, but make sure there is time in the week for you to do something for yourself: gym trip, coffee and cake out, stroll around the block, whatever. If you don't, you risk burn out and then you are no use to anyone.

Good luck to you and I'd love to hear all about your experiences.

Rachael Dunseath runs www.myroo.co.uk handmaking all-natural, luxurious skincare products. She also offers a baby range at www.millyandflossy.co.uk.

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share

How do you fit it all in?

March 10, 2010 by

I do love the support and compliments I get from my fellow mums. I am regularly asked: “How do you fit it all in – not just one child, but a baby and then your business?”.

There is no real secret to it. But this is how I manage:

1) Firstly motivation – without motivation, there is no way you will fit it all in. If you are motivated, then things do become much easier. This is what motivates me:

  • For starters, I only do what I love – I frequently refer to my business as a “hobby business” – it is a hobby for me and I enjoy what I do. If I didn’t enjoy it, then there would be little motivation.
  • Personally, I need something other than just the kids. I love my kids to bits, but come on – playing puzzles all day or dealing with another tantrum only gets you so far. Baking cakes is fun, but someone has to eat them all and I really do not want to go up two dress sizes.
  • At work you regularly get feedback – being at home with the kids, you don’t really – you don’t get a project review or an annual review, you don’t get a buzz from a presentation that you've done well. Nobody says: "Wow, you did ALL that washing this week!" or "well done for cooking all those meals" or "ten tantrums today? Good on you". Every time I sell something, it is like getting a little pat on the back – well done me!

2) There is, of course, time management:

  • There is a lot to be said for “do it now” – today I had a choice: nap or write this post. I chose to write the post.
  • Write lists/ diary notes of what needs to get done – always look at the whole list and prioritise – that way you a) don’t forget anything and b) you soon discover what is important. Some things have been on my list for months – I see them and I don’t do them as I have other things to do first.
  • Cause and effect/ timelines. Think ahead. For example, I want my alphabet book done by Christmas so that Red Ted can start reading it before he is three (Feb 2011). Working back it means I need to do xx now and then yy.
  • Routine – this is a very important factor for us. My children know that I need half an hour or so at the computer in the morning, they also both (still) nap at lunchtime – giving me one-two hours of me time. Red Ted is also in nursery one day a week and I dedicate this to Red Ted Art and Pip Squeak (who still naps three times a day), I avoid doing “mummy” things like playdates, as it is work time.
  • Neglect the housework (much to my husbands dismay – tough luck I say!).

3) Set realistic expectations/adapt to the time you have:

  • Now that Pip Squeak is here (she is 3.5 mths old) I have lowered my expectations as to what I can achieve as she needs more cuddles and holding than Red Ted needs at two years old.
    • I have shifted my focus from going out and visiting shops to sell my cards/ paintings for me, to networking online, which you can do when you have five minutes here or there. When Pip Squeak is older, I will shift my focus again to something else.
    • Painting is limited to a little in the evenings (I can’t paint when it is too dark) and the weekends – so I currently sell less.

I was recently asked if I ever sleep – you know what – I do! I sleep more than my peers, almost eight to nine hours a night (with interruptions from the baby, of course) and I do read too – probably one book a week. So the tips above do work. Honest.

The key is probably to find something you love and the rest will follow naturally.

Margarita Woodley, Red Ted Art

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share

Dear aspiring mumpreneur

March 09, 2010 by Nikki Backshall

Dear aspiring mumpreneur,

I'm writing this open letter to you to outline some crucial points that I wish someone had laid out for me. I'll keep it as short as possible because I know your time is precious but I'm sure that if you read this through, you'll save a ton of time in the long run.

If you are truly serious about becoming a part of the wonderful world of mumpreneurialism, read carefully what I have written below, you'll gain the information you need to act now and get in the right mindset.

Here are, not necessarily in the best order, my top tips to set you on your way:

  • You don't need a university education to start a business... but you do need passion. If you have enough passion for what you are about to embark on then your chances of success are already sky high.
  • Market research ― please do your market research before you steam ahead with any product or idea. Just because you think it's good - doesn't mean it is and on the flip side, if someone tells you it sucks ― it doesn't mean that it does. You need to get out there and research your target market, then and only then can you move forward.
  • Do your best to start your business on a shoe string, and then start to invest the revenue you make back in. You won't turn a 'profit' for some time but your business asset will be growing substantially.
  • You have an array of skills at your disposal because you are a resourceful woman but it never hurts to brush up or learn new skills as you go. Unless you are hiring professionals you will need to know about marketing, social media, basic technical skills (if you don't have a web designer), search engines, advertising, networking, blogging... but before you panic, there are resources out there to make this process painless and you don't need to be an expert, you just need to know the basics and get a little bit of experience and training.
  • Find a mentor or a few people that you admire and have a good connection with. If they are knowledgeable and willing to help you, then grab it with both hands and learn from them. It's far better to connect, follow and utilise a small number of people rather than hopping from site to site trying to find answers.
  • Be strict with your time - time management is an art and one that you would do well to master. Some of the key areas to running a successful business are self-discipline, focus and managing your time effectively. Procrastination is an entrepreneur's worst enemy and very common downfall. My best piece of advice here is to get yourself a simple kitchen timer and work in solid chunks of thirty minutes at a time. Within that period you focus on the task at hand - no email, no calls no Twitter (gasp!) or Facebook ― unless of course networking is your thirty minute task.
  • Fail fast - I suggested you do your research and work on some skills but ultimately put something out there, get going, don't drag your heels waiting for perfection. If your project isn't going to work then fail fast and move on to the next venture.
  • Set yourself up with a blog - preferably a self-hosted WordPress blog. Start talking about your business with the passion that you have for it. Draw your niche market in to your blog with insightful posts about you, your business, your plans and anything else that will interest THEM.
  • Network and revel in the strong support of the Mumpreneur community that is already out there. You'll never be judged, you'll always receive encouragement, opinions, advice and you will have the opportunity to create partnerships and life-long friends. Remember that these Mumpreneurs know exactly the struggles, hopes, fears and aspirations you have, because they have them too. Whilst it's really important to get your family and friends behind you, the Mumpreneurs you meet online will understand your business goals and any problems you face far better than any of your offline friends. So don't be afraid to reach out to them.
  • Learn the way of the Web 2.0 world of marketing and build relationships with your customers. Be completely transparent and react quickly to any queries, complaints or mentions of your business. Times have changed and the playing field has been leveled - you have the same social tools to market your business as the big guns, so utilise them well.
  • Suppress your whiny inner voice - the one that tells you you're useless and makes you doubt every move that you make. Have faith in yourself and believe that you will succeed. If you can get yourself into the right mindset then half your battle is won. Never lose sight of your goals, always tackle everything with a passion and drive that feels like fuel running through you ― if it doesn't feel like that ― something isn't right!
  • Finally - be happy! Make time for yourself and your family because without them it will all be for nothing. You will need to work hard, you'll likely be up to the early hours of the morning day in, day out to make this really work, but the passion you have for it will see you through, the love for your family will keep you going and the time and patience you allow yourself on this journey of discovery will make you feel proud, enlightened and like you've scaled the highest mountain.

So there you have it, the open advice that I wish I could have received when I first started out. I hope that it serves you well and that you go on to be truly successful and accomplish all that you set out to achieve. Maybe you could look me up in the Mumpreneur community and let me know how you're getting on sometime ― I'd love to hear all about it.

So, from one Mumpreneur to another - good luck, stay focused and live each day to the max!

Nikki Backshall, WebMums.com

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share

10 top tips for budding ‘mumpreneurs’

March 08, 2010 by Antonia Chitty

Research suggests that as many as one in ten mums would like to run their own business. It can be the best way to get control over your working hours and spend more time with children, while still being able to contribute to household income. If you are a mum and want to run your own business, here are my tips.

1 List your priorities. What is important to you and what do you expect in return for running a business? Do you seek to make loads of money or are you simply trying to find a way to spend more time at home with your children?

2 Think about time. How many hours you can devote to a business. Be realistic if you plan to work around your kids. Remember – young children are especially unlikely to understand “mummy’s working”. Write down your which hours are possible, whether that’s 12-2 each day during nap time; 9.30-11.30 to fit in with nursery; 7-9 in the evenings or a combination of these on different days.

3 Research your market. All new business owners must do this by finding the answers to key questions. Will enough people buy your product or service at the price you plan to charge? Is your product or service unique enough to appeal? What competition will you face and how can you be different or better?

4 Write a business plan. Set out your aims and objectives – and the steps you need to take to achieve them. Pop into a local Enterprise Agency or Business Link for advice. See if they offer a free start-up course, which could be a great source of information and advice.

5 Decide your marketing and promotional tactics. Have a promotion planning session, during which you seriously consider advertising, marketing, PR and events. What method(s) are likely to be most effective for your business? Note on a wall calendar promotional activities you will do each month, but spend enough time each day marketing your business – it’s critical to success.

6 Promote your business online. Get a good website designed. Start a Twitter account in your business name. Create your own blog and blog on other sites. Start a Facebook fan page for your business. To make things easier, use Twitterfeed or Friendfeed to link your different networking sites.

7 Get registered. You have three months to let HMRC know you have set up as a sole trader (ie become self-employed), otherwise you could be fined £100. Alternatively, you might decide to form a company by filing the necessary forms with Companies House.

8 Keep good financial records. It’s easier to note down every item of expenditure from the start than to have to deal with an unruly pile of receipts when you have to complete you tax return. Many expenses are tax deductible, while you can also benefit from a series of allowances, too. Visit the HMRC website for more information – or seek advice from a good accountant.

9 Make the most of every customer. It is much easier and as much as eight times cheaper to sell to existing customers rather than having to attract and convince new ones to buy from you, so you must aim to delight your customers if you want them to keep coming back for more. As well as products, this must apply to your services, too. Whichever means is most effective, always maintain good communication with your customers. Keep them well informed and updated. Sort out any customer complaints quickly and satisfactorily.

10 Get help. Before starting up, assess your skills list and identify any that are lacking. You might need to find someone to help with your bookkeeping, PR, online marketing, sales, deliveries – whatever. You might not have the knowledge, time or will to do everything yourself. Providing your business can afford it, buying in help can free you up so your time can be better spent on something else. Explore all free sources of information and advice – including the Start Up Donut, of course.

After you start your business, you need to remain focused on your ideal work-life. If you’re not careful, running a business can easily and quickly take over everything, which means your home life suffers and this can affect how you feel. Have a finish time each day; put your work away when it comes; spend quality time with your family and make sure you set aside time to relax by and do things you enjoy.

  • If you’re serious about starting a business, check out my book at www.themumpreneurguide.co.uk, it is written specially for mums who want to start a business. It covers issues ranging from business planning and start-up finance to arranging childcare and setting aside time for yourself.

Antonia Chitty, Family Friendly Working

startupdonutbannerbutton728x90

Bookmark and Share
Syndicate content