of the biggest problems facing most people, let alone those
working from home, is that of time management. I don't mean we
waste our time by being lazy and doing nothing - if we are honest
we all do that sometimes - but how many of us, at the end of what
seemed like a busy day, have sat down and wondered just what we
How often have you heard someone say "I've been so busy
today, but I don't seem to have achieved anything?"
This is the main difference between life's achievers and those
who, although always busy, never get anywhere. The people who
"achieve" are the ones who make the most use of their
time--the one commodity that we all have in equal amounts--it's
just that successful people spend their time wisely while most
people waste their time. It does not matter how intelligent,
educated, rich or well connected you are, if you don't use your
time efficiently, you are sure to fail.
I don't mean that you should spend all your time slaving away over
your computer - far from it! - What I do mean is that you should
use your time effectively - both work and leisure time.
But I can hear you saying "I spend twelve hours a day
working, I just have that much to do I never seem to be able to
finish or to have time to relax." I would say that if you
manage your time effectively, you would achieve more in eight
hours than you are presently doing in twelve.
First, to know how to save time, you need to know (not guess) how
you are spending your time at present. If you are serious about
making yourself more effective, please carry out the following
task thoroughly - I bet that the results will surprise you and
shock you into action.
What I want you to do is to keep a Time Log of all your activity
for the next two weeks. Take a piece of paper, or a diary page,
divide each working day into quarter of an hour slots, and at the
end of each fifteen minutes, make a brief note of how you have
spent that time.
I would suggest that you formulate a simple key so that you do not
waste more time writing! This would obviously be something that
suits your particular work, but it could be something like: - A -
time spent reading e-mails; B - time spent reading ezines; C-
replying to emails; D - making coffee; E - making phone calls; F -
receiving phone calls; G - being interrupted by colleagues/family
who just want a chat; H - travelling; I - attending meetings - and
so on, I am sure you get the picture.
At the end of each day, simply add up the time spent on each
activity and record it. At the end of the two weeks I am sure you
will be amazed at the time you spent on actively moving your
business forward and how much time was wasted, even though it
"appeared" as if it was work!
As the days progress you will probably begin to notice things you
are doing that are unproductive and begin to alter your habits. Do
you really need to read all those ezines?
At the end of the fortnight, you should sit down and review your
time log. Does the amount of time spent on something correlate to
the importance of that item towards achieving your primary goal -
growing a profitable business?
Could you alter how you do some tasks to help you complete them
Do you need to subscribe to all those ezines? I certainly found
when I was beginning in this business I subscribed to every ezine
I could - but after a time I was becoming inundated with them. So
what I did was make a list of them all, and as each one arrived I
marked its importance to me as either 1 - very useful; 2 - some
useful information; and 3 - of no interest whatsoever. After I had
received three copies of an ezine, I looked at the scores I had
given it and if the marks were all 3's I unsubscribed immediately;
if they were a mixture of 2's and 3's I waited to receive a
further couple of copies; but if neither of those scored a 1, I
again unsubscribed. I am now spending about a quarter of the
time I was previously, but still receiving as much
benefit. Do you have a large number of emails, ezines or
favourite pages that you never access and don't know what they
are? Be ruthless--plan to spend a part of each day reading them
and either deleting them or putting them into a clearly marked
folder so that you can find them easily in the future.
Once you are up to date, read each piece of information as you
receive it and then either act upon it, file it or delete
it--don't let your computer, your desk or your mind become clogged
up with useless trivia. If you are unsure of whether to keep
something, ask yourself what the worst thing that could happen if
you never had access to it again? If you can't think of
anything--get rid of it!
Ok, so now you have managed to get rid of the elements that you
were wasting your time on, but how do you move forward to the next
stage of actually ensuring that your time is spent productively?
Just as you should have planned the future, you need to plan each
day. At the end of each day, take five minutes to list the things
you need to do the following day. Then prioritise each item. Ask
yourself - will doing this help me achieve my goal? Is this
something I can get someone else to do (delegate)? How
urgent is it?
The following morning, work through each item in order of
priority. Where possible, do the hardest/most unpleasant task
first. Once that is out of the way the rest of your day will seem
to go quicker and smoother than if you were worrying all day about
having to do it!
During the day learn to say no to people. Your time is important.
Don't let other people impose on you and use you to use their time
Tony Murtagh has spent all his career involved in sales, sales
management, marketing and PR. He was a UK National Sales Manger
(Major Accounts) for a mobile communications company, had his own
publishing company producing a monthly Business to Business
magazine and has acted as a PR consultant for a number of small