You are starting a new online business. But finding it hard to manage the time efficiently? Well, that happens very often! So how do we manage our time? In fact, many people would like to say that there is no such thing as time management because after all, we have only twenty-four hours in a day and seven days a week! But what they fail to see is that time is the scarcest resource and optimum utilization of the same is the ultimate goal of time management.
To start with, you must realize that there are no hard and fast rules and no one can offer you any readymade time management solutions. The very concept of management itself is a highly stylized version of common sense. Reading those management books often gives an impression that the obvious thing is being said with esoteric jargons. So, the trick is not to panic and maintain your senses.
It becomes even more important for online business because unlike traditional businesses, online business is expected to be available 24*7. So, you need to make sure that there are no backlogs and no one is turned down when they request a service. An automated reply saying you are out of office might not be very encouraging for the potential clients. So, let us list out a few steps to check your time schedule. These will be applicable not only for your online business but for any kind of enterprises.
1. Reduce wastage: It is not as easy as it sounds. You might have heard of “lean” manufacturing techniques in operations management. By being “lean” they mean preventing the wastage of resources, i.e. raw material & manpower, etc. Since time is the most valuable and irreversible resource, one should apply the same principle in his daily routine also. For this, you need to track your day to day activities.
Many times we don’t even realize that we are wasting time on something. For example, you often turn on the music and lie down to relax for 15 minutes, but you end up sleeping for a couple of hours! A lot of people go out for a cup of coffee in the afternoon and chat away the entire evening. These things happen very naturally and we don’t even bother about them. But once you look back at yesterday’s proposed schedule and what you actually did, you will realize how much time you have wasted. No, I am not saying that you should not relax at all. But most of the times we tend to overdo it without even noticing it.
Also, those who are in online business are mostly net savvy people. So, it is very easy for them to spend hours chatting or surfing. One should always keep a time window for their favorite pastime. Also, when you are going for some time-consuming work like waiting in a queue, take some light work to keep you occupied. In fact, if you have the right devices and connectivity, you can work from anywhere.
2. Prepare a routine and follow it: If you still don’t have a daily routine do it now. Plan your activities beforehand. Yes, there can be changes in the future, but still, maintain a general plan for every day. Following a routine is more difficult than making it. The best way is to keep you reminding of the routine.
Keep a copy of it at a frequently visible place. If you don’t mind you can make it your desktop wallpaper also! Well I know it is not a very aesthetic thing to do but is definitely very effective. Anyway, the more important thing is the mental strength you will need to follow the routine if you are not really used to. Set a time limit for anything you do whether it is your work or anything else and force yourself to stay within limits. Try hard.
3. Set your goals right and prioritize: You need to identify your goals properly and clearly. It can be on a daily basis or weekly or anything that suits you. But you should be able to clearly tell what do you intend to do and how are you planning to do that.
Having set your goals, prioritize them according to their importance and your resources. Confusion is also a big consumer of time. So be sure about what to be done and when to be done. Along with the short-term schedule, also set a long-term schedule and review your performance over a longer period so as not to miss out the bigger picture while planning daily activities.
4. Get the right tools: You will find many tools or software to help you with your scheduling. In fact, many people don’t even know that there are options available in their own system. For example, the outlook application also has a provision for maintaining schedules. As you know the entire business of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is based on providing automated resource planning and scheduling services. But don’t get carried away by the big names. Spend on them only if you are sure that you need them. In fact, most of the work can be done by free open source applications.
You should also spend some time organizing your database. As you know, data has to be organized to make it meaningful information. If you have to waste your time exploring your database for every single piece of information, which does not really help you. You can invest in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for managing your contacts. It will make both data entry and retrieval faster. In the absence of that, you can also spend some more time with your spreadsheet. A lot of people are not aware of the features available in the spreadsheets nowadays. They can really save your time if used adequately.
5. Don’t hesitate to delegate or outsource: Delegation is in fact a very sensitive topic. Especially if the online business is your own brainchild, you might find it very difficult to leave the work to your juniors. So, you might end up trying to do every single thing yourself, which is a wastage of time and energy. Select your own team and start your own business. Join the people whom you think are capable and reliable. Then let them also have responsibilities. You don’t have to be the big brother watching over them. Let them have their freedom at work so that they can also grow with you. It will also make your workplace a more vibrant and efficient one and you will save yourself from overwork.
Outsourcing is also another sensitive topic, especially at the time of recession it is one of those untouchable terms. But it has its benefits. As you know that it is done mostly to save costs. But it can also be done to save your schedule by employing a firm that is competent in the desired field. For example, you don’t have to stress yourself learning HTML when someone else can make you a much better website. Identify the works that don’t fall in your competence zone but are unavoidable. Outsource them to someone who specializes in such fields.
In the end, you should note that time management is the development of your personality. You will have all those tools to help you but after all, it is about being disciplined and circumspect. So, train your mind to be on time before it flies away.
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