[The following article first appeared in the October edition of Corporate Report Wisconsin]
As a business owner, your work is never done. There is always another figure to check, prospect to call, problem to solve. If you are not careful, you will end up working seven days a week. So, start planning now to better manage your time and preserve your sanity in 2009.
1. Plan your business day. The last thing I do before snapping my computer closed for the night is to plan out the next day. It doesn’t always work. Crises will come up. But this at least gives me some control.
2. Compartmentalize your work. Do this by blocking out the things you will and must get done this day. Then estimate the time required and do not quit until they are done. Some days, if you get lucky, you may be out the door in five or six hours. Others, well, you could be there until midnight. Another option is to clock X number of dedicated hours each day, such as ten.
Example of a schedule of a home-based consultant:
· Rise at 5:30
· Exercise until 6:30
· Work from 6:30 until 8:00
· Breakfast with the kids 8:00 to 8:30
· Work from 8:30 until 11:45
· Lunch away from the job 11:45 to 12:15
· Work without break from 12:15 to 3:30
· Take a 15-minute break at 3:30 to greet the kids as they come home from school
· Work from 3:45 until 5:30.
· Dinner with family 5:30 until 6:15.
· Wrap up day and plan next day from 6:15 until 7:15.
3. Schedule vacation and free time. In December, I pencil in 40 vacation days for the next year. Many are Fridays, so I get some three-day weekends. Also, if you are able to give yourself some flex time, you can take a few hours off for your son’s baseball game and plan to make it up from 10:00 PM until midnight.
4. Schedule time for family and friends. If you run too hard too long, you will eventually collapse emotionally. Take one night a week for board games or to just watch television as a family. I work alone at home, so I schedule dinner out with friends and family members about four evenings a week.
5. Schedule time to read, pray and renew your heart, soul and mind. You must turn your mind off work now and then. Read, go to a ballgame, get involved in your house of worship and community, dig in the garden.
6. Take care of your body. Do not smoke; do not drink or eat to excess; find time for regular exercise; sleep at least seven hours a night. If you work 12 hours and then come home and pour yourself a tumbler of vodka, you’re self-medicating your body and it will not be ready for peak performance the next day.
7. Most of all, make a conscious effort to manage your time, your work, your life. Do not let others dump favors-that-need-doing in your lap or take on projects and jobs that do nothing for either your business or yourself.
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