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using_timeFollowing on from Friday’s post on dealing with overwhelm, today we’re going to look at how you use your time. You see, Time cannot be managed, it can only be used.

Time is not alive, it does not act or react, feel emotions or breathe. Time simply is. It continues at the same rate for every person in the world, day after day. Although it can feel as though it does, time never speeds up or slows down. Time cannot be managed, it can only be used.

When we make the best use of our time, that’s when we say we are managing time well; however, the truth is that we’re actually managing ourselves.

So, you’re a mum. A wife. A business owner. You serve on committees, go to night school, worship at church, take time with friends, have hobbies and passions to follow, kids to look after, a house to keep presentable, friends and family to keep up with. How do you do everything and still run a business?

Remember the four D’s from last week? Do, Delay, Delegate or Drop? Before you can get to the 4D’s you need to take a good hard look at how much time you have.

I recently answered a question on a forum, where Christie, from Childhood 101, asked “I am just wondering how much time other blogging Mums put into managing their own blogs, reading and commenting on other blogs and social networking each day? I struggle to get maybe an hour during rest time and everything else is at night, so then poor DH misses out on us time and I have less time to read, knit, etc.

Paraphrased, this was my answer:

You need to look at how much time you have available and plan around that. All those activities I mentioned that I do {Facebook, Twitter, Forums, Blog commenting} are marketing or marketing related. You don’t have to do them all the time. While blogging is marketing, it’s generally not what gets you clients – believe it or not.

You’ll need to be very organised, and know exactly what you need to do. When your time is limited then business planning becomes even more important. Don’t waste any time on “Gee, I have 15 minutes, what should I do?” because you’ll do what’s fun and not what’s important.

The first thing you need to look at is how much time you have available. Christie says she has around an hour during rest time. That’s only about five to seven hours a week, plus what she can find when her baby is in bed of an evening. My daughter is in school, so I have a lot more time available during the day, however because I’m at school two evenings a week I don’t get a lot of night time work done. Realistically, how much time do you have available on a regular basis?

Filling that time. When you’re starting out, a good rule of thumb, no matter how much time you have available, is to spend 80% of your time Marketing and 20% of your time on other work. Marketing is more important than blogging, than tweaking your website (unless that is the marketing), than anything else. Marketing will get you sales.

Plan your work so you’re working on the most important tasks first. I like to list my tasks under three headings;

i) Essential – these are the things that directly make me money. Marketing and product development mainly.

ii) Very Useful – tasks such as blogging. The things that help spread the word about your business, indirectly related to sales, readers and subscribers.

iii) Nice to Have – If I get time I’ll do with these tasks. Facebook comes under here (for me, because I don’t really use FB as a marketing tool right now). Checking the website for spelling errors. Looking for new forums to post on.

All your tasks should be planned out, so you know exactly what you need to be doing when. As I said to Christie on the forum, don’t waste your time wondering what to do. You should know what’s next. What is important today. What do I need to be working on now.

The other point I want to make here is tied in with prioritising and dropping tasks. Christie mentioned that she likes to read and knit in the evenings. The time is likely to come, as she transitions into becoming a work at home mom, that she’ll need to drop these. Her business will need to be a higher priority temporarily. There are always going to be times where your business requires every bit of time you can find and almost everything else has to take a backseat.

There’s nothing wrong with this on a temporary basis. (If it continues permanently then you need to look at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. Contact me, I can help you!) However many business owners, particularly work at home moms, are unprepared for their business to take over their lives like this. It’s actually a fairly normal part of business, particularly in the early stages. The majority of work at home moms go through this. It can last for a week, or a month or two.

Be organised. Plan well in the beginning and you will get through it. Know what you need to do, know what your highest priority is. Use your time well.