by Jayne S. Huhtanen, Certified Business Coach
Every writer needs to know the Five W’s of good Journalism: Who, What, Where, When, Why (and sometimes How).
What about the rules of Time Management? They are equally important to help you focus on your most important priorities; those that only you can, and should, do. Ask yourself the following questions, and see how much time you may be able to free up:
Ask yourself: “Who really needs to do this? Am I the only person who can do it? Am I the best person to do it?”
If there is someone else who can do it, even if not quite as perfectly as you would, delegate it to them. It may be bookkeeping, Virtual Assistance, blog writing, web design, or any number of activities. If it is not something you excel at, someone else can do it faster and better than you.
Ask yourself: “What is the single most important project or task I have on my list that will make the biggest impact on accomplishing my goals?” Work on that task first every day.
Then ask yourself, “What is the next most important task I can work on that will make the biggest impact on accomplishing my goals? Do that one next.
Use a To Do List, review it each morning, and plan what you will do that day, and when. Often, the most important things you could do, are the ones you least want to do. Do those first and get them out of the way. Reward yourself in some small way for accomplishing them.
Ask yourself: “Do I have a place where I can work uninterrupted? Is my workspace organized so I can find everything easily? How much time do I spend daily looking for something?”
If you don’t have an organized workspace, consider hiring a Professional Organizer to help you set up your paper files and workspace. And to keep on top of things, hire an Assistant to come in regularly to clean up your files.
Ask yourself: “When am I most productive? Most creative? Am I an early bird, or a night owl?”
Understanding when your brain operates at peak efficiency, and then blocking that time in your calendar for work, can help you work more, faster, and better, than if you are tired or distracted.
FOCUS; carve out time to accomplish those big, fat, juicy priorities, the ones that will get you where you want to go faster. Schedule them in your calendar and protect the time. Make it a meeting with yourself that you cannot move. Mark it in red. Focus on the work at hand. Do not move to another task until you have completed the task you set yourself to do.
Ask yourself: “Why am I doing this? Does it contribute to accomplishing the goals I have for my business and my life? Is it my priority, or someone else’s?”
Focus your efforts on only those tasks that contribute to accomplishing your priorities, and consider outsourcing or delegating others.
Ask yourself: “Is this the most productive way to accomplish this task? Do I need to do it to perfection, or can I stop when I have accomplished 80 per cent? Are there ways to simplify the process?”
Even before you start, decide what your end product needs to look like; when it is good enough, stop. There are times when perfection is needed, and times when it is not, and sometimes it is better just to get the work done and out the door.
Learn how to use the tools and technology that you will need all the time. Take a course on Excel or PowerPoint, book an appointment with the Small Business Advisor at your local Apple store and have them show you how to use your iPhone or iPad to its maximum capabilities. Talk to other entrepreneurs about the Apps they use and how they can simplify your work, and then start using them.
By following these steps, you can achieve better control of your time and accomplish the most important priorities on your To Do list if you: (1) plan, (2) link your activities to your goals, and (3) work when you function best.