Escaping the shackles of corporate life to run your own business can be energising and inspiring. The prospect of being in control of your business and your time is your dream. Sadly, many female entrepreneurs become overwhelmed by an ever-expanding list of activities that leave them with less time and more stress than they had while working for someone else.
Don’t worry, pretty much everybody who starts a business hit’s this wall and while some give up, most get through it eventually. To help you make that learning curve as short and as painless as possible, we have created this useful “cheat sheet” based on the experiences of hundreds of successful women in business who have made it through to the other side.
All you need to do is to read through them and commit to implementing one or more of these ideas every month.
To make it easy for you, we’ve grouped them by problem area, so you can skim through and go straight to the ones that address the most pressing problem you are facing now.
Cull unwanted emails
Many ladies tell us they end up with an inbox full of unwanted promotional emails from people trying to sell them stuff they don’t want. If you suffer from this problem, do yourself a favour and unsubscribe yourself from these mailing lists. It may take a few seconds longer than deleting, but it nips this recurring problem in the bud.
Save time in your business day...hit unsubscribe instead of deleting unwanted emails!
Batch process your emails
Many business owners fall into the trap of dealing with emails piecemeal, as they appear in their inbox. This means that you are allowing your inbox to rule your time rather than the other way about, and the result is usually a busy but frustrating day and an even longer to do list tomorrow. Instead, develop the discipline of only checking your email inbox a maximum of four times per day. Schedule these times in your diary and stick to them and you’ll be amazed at how much more you achieve.
The Urgency/Importance Matrix
Understand the difference between URGENT and IMPORTANT. Many of the tasks that appear urgent are NOT important. Sadly, many entrepreneurs suffer because they think that urgency is the same as importance and, waste time dealing with things that are important to others but not to themselves. The Urgency/Importance Matrix is a powerful tool that will help you focus on the stuff that is important or important and urgent versus the stuff that is simply urgent but not important.
The Impact/Effort Matrix
This is an equally powerful alternative to the important/urgent matrix that some people find more appealing. Instead, it helps you to assess tasks based on the impact of completing it and the amount of effort required. It encourages you to prioritise High Impact, Low Effort activities (Quick Win’s) first followed by High Impact High Effort Tasks. Taking a moment to stop and think what the impact (benefits) of completing competing tasks, will help you to make better decisions that generate more rewarding outcomes.
INTERRUPTIONS AND DISTRACTIONS
Interruptions have always been a problem for people who want to be more productive but nowadays we live in a society which has more distractions than ever before including; Landlines, Mobile phones, SMS messages, Social Media, Emails, TV, Box Sets and YouTube, to name but a few. It’s way too easy to feel you have become a puppet, pulled incessantly in every direction until you have no time to do anything that you want to do, so how can you reclaim control?
Turn off your phone or put it on silent for an hour or two
Before you throw your hands up in horror and scream IMPOSSIBLE, stop and think. Will the world really stop spinning on its axis if you can’t be contacted for an hour or two? Of course not! Nobody else will manage your time for you, so you need to reclaim control and regain some quiet time for thinking, creativity and productivity, safe in the knowledge your voicemail will take the strain.
Turn off your email reminders/notifications
Another way to reduce your interruptions at least for a short time is to turn off your email notifications. This is possible on your desktop as well as on your mobile devices. If you don’t know how to do it, just Google “how to turn of email reminders” for your device and you’ll find a host of articles and videos which will show you how.
DEALING WITH TASKS YOU DISLIKE
Discover the magic of outsourcing
Every business owner has tedious tasks that they don’t enjoy. These are the kind of tasks that, in the corporate world, you could often delegate to more junior colleagues. When you are starting up a small business, you probably think that you don’t have anyone to delegate things to, but don’t be so sure. There are a host of talented freelancers out there who can do things for you without costing you a fortune. For example, cleaning your house, answering your phone, cleansing your mailing list, inputting your expenses and managing your businesses social media profile, etc. You can find such people either face to face via networking groups or online, using sites like Fiverr or People Per Hour.
Save time in your business day...discover the magic of outsourcing @fiverr @PeoplePerHour
Unlock the hidden power of your kitchen timer
You probably know that an impending deadline can often provide much needed motivation to help you overcome procrastination, but did you know that you can use your kitchen timer to help you breeze through routine tasks with ease? It’s true! Use the timer to set yourself a mini deadline and challenge yourself to see how much you can get done before the bell goes off. It’s a great way to tackle a range of tedious but necessary tasks like clearing your inbox, entering business contacts into your database, writing blog posts and newsletters, etc.
Finding/Remembering your tasks
If you find yourself frequently overlooking tasks, then you have a problem with your task recording system.
Don't rely on your memory
Using some kind of task list is not a sign of failure or impending Alzheimer’s disease. We have so much going on today that it’s inevitable that things will get forgotten if rely on our memory alone. Not only will Using a simple task management system improve your productivity, but it will also reduce your stress and help you sleep better. Here are some tips to help you make the transition.
Use your Diary/Calendar more effectively
Many people only use their calendar for appointments with other people such as clients, suppliers of friends. As a result, large chunks of their day appear “Free” when they glance at their diary. In reality, they probably had intended to set aside much of that time for projects and tasks, but they never entered those plans into their schedule. The result is usually that the time gets taken up by other things and the important tasks don’t get done when they should. Most successful entrepreneurs have learned the value of blocking out chunks of time in their calendar for progressing important tasks. N.B.: Don’t block more than 2 hours at a time, and make sure you leave a few gaps to handle inevitable emergencies.
Keep all your tasks in one place
One common reason for missed tasks is a lack of a unified system for logging and retrieving them. Scraps of paper, backs of envelopes, and post it notes are the root cause of many such frustrating problems. Instead, you need a Master Task List, where you capture all your tasks. This can be either paper based, such as a bound A4 or A5 lined notebook that you carry with you everywhere or a cloud based electronic list with desktop and mobile phone apps which allow you to enter and retrieve tasks when you are on the go as well as at your desk.
Save time in your business day...create a Master Task List
Use a separate Daily Task List
The only potential problem with you Master Task List (MTL) is that inevitably get quite big! But don’t let that overwhelm you. Each evening, take a few minutes to skim through your MTL and pull out those priority tasks that you plan to do tomorrow. Copy them to a much shorter (and more manageable) Daily Task list and your chances of completing most if not all of them will be greatly improved. Warning – there are a wealth of time management apps out there, and you could waste a whole lot of time searching for the “perfect” one. Pick one that is simple and easy to use. The more complicated the app, the less likely you will be to use it consistently.
Share your own tips about time saving with other business women via Venus Voice
We hope you found these tips helpful bit we know that this list is not exhaustive. If you have discovered a tip, tactic or time management strategy that works for you, tell us and we’ll publish it on Venus Voice so that thousands of other female entrepreneurs like you can benefit and so that you can get some well deserves kudos!
Did you find this article interesting? If you have ideas that you would like to share with us about time saving please leave your comments.