Time Management for Busy Businessowners

More and more often, clients have been asking me, "how do you get it all done, Alicia?"

"I don’t know you how do it, Alicia…with a little one running around and so few hours in the day to actually focus on your work. Somehow you manage to write your weekly ezine, hold a bunch of teleseminars each month, run your 10-week group coaching program, AND be creating and promoting new offers and new products all the time. I’m so impressed and inspired by you, but more than that, I want to know how you do it all!?"

To be honest, sometimes I wonder myself! Something I often say to other, especially new, mothers is, "despite what everyone tells you to do, do whatever works for YOU." In a way, that’s how I started running my business after I had my daughter. I just did whatever worked. I still do.

Now that she’s a bit older, it’s easier to manage both being a fulltime mother along with running a successful business. Notice I said it was easier – not easy!

Over time, I’ve figured out how to get the most important things done while still being able to focus the majority of my time on my family (after all, that’s one of the reasons why I went into business for myself in the first place).

Here are the top three things that are working for me right now:

1. Setting my work hours

My typical work day looks like this: I get up shortly before my daughter to get organized for the day. This jump-starts my day and makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished something before I spend the next several hours having tea parties, blowing bubbles, exploring the neighborhood or running errands.

But I don’t get any real work done until her naptime. I work for about two hours while she naps in the afternoon, four days a week. Then for another two hours after she goes to bed at night three evenings a week. My biggest block of focused time, usually reserved for writing and product creation, is on Saturdays, when I work approximately 6 hours. During a perfect week, that would give me about 20 hours of time dedicated to business. However, there’s never a perfect week (Chloe doesn’t nap, I have some pressing non-business-related task that I can only take care of when she’s sleeping, etc.), so my best guess is that this gives me about 15 productive hours to work on my business each week.

2. Ignoring the phone

I’m serious when I say that I ignore the phone. Some of my clients get heart palpitations when I tell them that I NEVER jump when the phone rings and suggest they do the same. (It drives some of my friends batty, too.) The ringer on our phones are either off or set to soft alert that you can’t even hear it ring unless you’re really listening for it. Does this mean I miss some important calls? Probably. But I am good about checking messages quickly to make sure it’s not an emergency, and then calling people back at a more convenient time for me.

3. Quick consults

Until recently, when a prospective client wanted to speak with me about ‘just a few questions’, I used to gladly schedule a time to talk. But instead of a few questions, I’d be on the phone for at least a half hour, basically giving a free coaching/consulting session, and being frustrated with myself for not valuing my time more.

Now when a potential client or customer requests to talk with me further about working with me or about one of my products, they can scheduled time to talk to me for a much smaller fee than my usual hourly rate, and if they decide to go forward with working with me, they can apply the fee they paid towards the program or product they were interested in. It’s fair and values both our time and investment in the process.

BONUS: Make and use lists

I’d be lost without my lists! I’d never remember to do anything if I didn’t write it down. I keep a bunch of reporter’s notebooks around the house and anytime I think of something I need to do, I write it down in whatever room I’m in – whether it’s business or personal. Then I periodically gather the lists and separate them into three main lists; personal, business, and other (which includes the "someday I’d like to…" stuff; things that aren’t a priority but that I want to remember to do at some point), and check things off in priority order from there.

If you start applying some of these steps now, I guarantee the number of productive hours you spend on your business will increase. And you’ll also feel less overwhelmed and lessed stressed about trying to get it all done!

HELPFUL RESOURCE RELATED TO THIS ARTICLE:
The above are just tiny pieces of the strategies and systems I use to ‘get it all done’. If you’d like to know the ins-and-outs of how I manage my time to continue building a more and more successful business while raising my daughter and enjoying the rest of my life, it’s all part of my upcoming new book, "EntreMoms(TM) Guide to Getting It All Done."

© 2007 Alicia M Forest and ClientAbundance.com

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