the scarcest commodity the new home-business owner just starting out
has is time. This is particularly so if you are also working a
traditional, full-time job and building up your business "on the
side" in your spare time. So how do you go about burning the
candle at both ends without burning yourself out in the process?
First off, let's think about
priorities. Working a full-time job while developing a business
requires stamina and endurance if other areas of your life are not to
be neglected. This means being fit and healthy. Make time to exercise
at least three times a week. Four or five is better. I know how hard
it can be to commit an hour to working out when you've got an endless
(and I mean ENDLESS!) list of things you need to be doing NOW for
your business. But make the time. It pays BIG dividends in terms of
stamina and endurance.
Second, eat right. Don't just
grab a McBurger on the way home from work and scoff it down as you're
driving. Take the time to cook a proper meal and relax for a half
hour or an hour before getting down to business. This gives you a
break and time to unwind from the pressures of the day, making you
much more productive when you do get down to work. Eating proper
meals will keep you in good health and, coupled with a regular
exercise routine, will help keep your energy levels high.
OK, so you're physically in shape
and taking care of yourself. The next major thing to think about is
time management. Every weekend, before the working week starts,
prepare a business plan for the coming week. This is nothing more
complicated that writing down the various business-related activities
you must do over the course of the coming week and then scheduling
them according to how much time you know you are going to have on a
By planning out your time this
way, you can schedule your business activities alongside your other
activities. Take care of as many of them as you can through the
course of the day. Whether you are able to do this depends on the
nature of your 9 to 5 job but if you have even a little autonomy you
should be able to squeeze out a little time here and there. Not huge
chunks, just 10 minutes here and there.
The nature of your job may mean
you don't have the luxury of that sort of autonomy. If this is you,
then there's nothing for it but to free up time before and after
work. This may mean getting up an hour earlier every day, for example.
Whatever your personal situation,
by planning ahead you will at least have the peace of mind of knowing
that time has been allocated to all important business-related tasks.
By eliminating the "scatter gun" approach you will find
that the limited time you do have will be much more productive.
There are going to be some
activities that you have to do day in, day out. Decide what time of
the day is best for you to attend to these routine tasks. The more
you can integrate business activities into your daily routine the
more efficient will be your use of time. Let's take email, for
example. Anyone running an online business has to deal with email on
a daily basis. I use the time between when I get up in the morning
and when I leave for the gym for this. It gives me time to wake up
before I launch into my day and is a relatively undemanding task that
does not require precision concentration.
Make use of autoresponders for as
much of your email processing as possible. This will further reduce
the amount of time you have to spend on this aspect of your business.
Other routine activities include
things like site promotion and search engine position monitoring. Now
there are a lot of great tools to help webmasters with this part of
their business. For example, WebPosition Gold will automatically
review your position in all the major search engines and report back
to you with the results. It can also be programmed to auto-submit at
appropriate intervals. Be sure to use quality automated tools
wherever possible. They can save you literally hours of work every
week and as we all know, time is money in this business.
Keep a journal for a week. Record
in it everything you do during the day from the moment you get up in
the morning to the moment you go to bed. What activities can you
eliminate in favour of freeing up some time for your business? Maybe
it means getting up an hour earlier. Maybe it's forgoing the sleep-in
on the weekend. Maybe it means giving up those two hours of TV every
night. You will find even 15-20 minutes blocks here and there can add
up to a sizeable chunk of time over a week or a month.
If you travel, keep a copy of
your website on your laptop and work on it while you're in the air or
waiting for a flight. Or answer your email ready to send it when you
get plugged in again.
As you can see, the trick is to
practice the "nibble" technique. If you wait until you have
a great chunk of time in one block, such as the weekend, you'll only
waste all of those little bits of time you could have put to good use
during the week and fritter away your "quality" time on
routine tasks rather than business development.
One final piece of advice. Take
time every week to just relax and do something you want to do.
Although the pressures of a new business are demanding, failing to
take time out will only lead to burn out.
© 2002 Elena Fawkner