“Look at me I’m self-employed / I love to work at nothing all day.” The ’70s band Bachman-Turner Overdrive celebrated the freedom of rock star life in their hit song “Taking Care of Business.”
To the contrary, today’s self-employed and small business owners face a unique set of challenges. This is especially true of those running small offices or home businesses who feel the strain of wearing many hats.
The following 5 tips will help you take better control, and let you enjoy the freedom of running your business:
1) Plan First
Begin your day with a cup of coffee and a handful of expectations. This is the tip that separates the putting-out-fire managers from the time managers.
Start work 15 minutes early and get your appointments, phone calls and must-do tasks all listed in front of you in your day planner. This way you’ll be able to address, and assess the value of, any pop-up requests the minute the phone starts ringing and the emails come pouring in.
2) Create Better Project Plans
The successful completion of your work projects is directly-associated with how these projects are planned. It begins with a step most often overlooked in project planning: determining the project objective. Having a clear and tangible idea of what your business hopes to accomplish allows you to accurately plan and prioritize its activities.
Ask yourself or have your team choose goals, expectations, past performance issues, and the key project priorities. Next, define the following project-related requirements:
- List all of the action steps.
- Estimate the task times and set deadlines
- Assign and schedule the necessary tasks
- Establish a project review process
A quality project plan will increase your ability to successfully complete tasks while minimizing time waste.
3) Reduce Your Email Count
Each day, too much email is being forwarded, replied to, and otherwise sent unnecessarily. Set the tone as to what types of messages you receive by being more definitive with the messages you send out.
Creating subject lines that are specific, attention-getting, and action-oriented eliminates ambivalence and cuts time. For example: “Feedback requested – preliminary budget revision from 1/28 discussion.”
Next, characterize the specific responses you expect. Don’t loosely ask for wayward opinions, use a call to action: “Please respond today and explain your preference.” If no response to your message is necessary, say so.
4) Create Routines for Repeating Tasks
There are many repetitive weekly tasks such as performing online market research, blogging, and writing sales inquiries that can be valuable to your business. Unfortunately, these are often pushed aside or overlooked through the busy-ness of your workweek.
Eliminate this by creating routines. For example, you can write a weekly routine that includes a specific task for different days of the week. Here’s a simple weekly marketing routine:
- Monday – search Google for industry news
- Wednesday – write short blog post
- Friday – check Twitter feeds
These routines can be time-specific or flexible, but be certain to schedule a minimal amount of time for these each week.
5) Put Your Business to Bed
Whether you work at home or in an office, never leave work without putting your business to bed. This means clear your desk, store your files, close out your programs, and push in your chair. Maintain your workspace in tip-top shape and you’ll enjoy better performance.
Also, before you leave for the day write a summary of your daily activities. If you’re responsible for wearing many different hats in your business this can be your best resource. Be sure to describe the tasks you accomplished, those that require more work, and new tasks needing follow-up. This business journal will set you up for success when planning your next work day.
Do you have any tips for gaining better control in your home business or small office? Please comment.
[photo by Bombardier]
|Day-Timer Spokesperson Jeff Doubek can be reached at [email protected]|