Getting Started and Time Management

I recently received this question from someone who was starting a new business:

What works for you, in order to get business, cleaning, cooking, and so on done? Im finding myself spending alot of time doing one thing and neglecting other things. Also, with your business, how do you fit in everything you need to do within that time frame? I feel like my business mind is so scattered, like I it’s going back and forth from one task to another and back again.

When you’re just getting started with a new business, time management can be the toughest nut to crack, just because there is so much that you need to do.

First of all. it’s never “done.” I think the trick is figuring when and/or where to stop each day.

Second, at the beginning, it can be overwhelming because there is so much waiting to be done. Your brain can go into overdrive just focusing on the “needs to be done” part, without taking into consideration that you literally can’t do it all at the same time.

THIS, in my opinion, is why it is so important to plan. Create a list of what to do, and then start working on the list. Focus focus FOCUS on that list!

Think about this:

When a new company starts up, they don’t gather every employee, rent and office, move in and BOOM. Instead, there are one or a few people with ideas. They flesh out the ideas and figure out the money (even if that’s “enough money to move from point A to point B, when we have a new money source).

Next, maybe they get a small space, a small research & development team, and MAYBE someone to do administrative tasks (secretary/receptionist). With technology, fewer companies are doing this. The original founders are probably working in all areas, in addition to paid staff, lots of hours.

When R&D has produced enough info, THEN production staff is hired. Probably a bit more than they need for the very start, but what they project to need for a year or so. At this time, they bring on someone to do administrative work if they haven’t already and marketing staff. And somewhere in here they hire someone to do sales.

See — the above can take a year or more. On one hand, you have fewer variables. On the other, you’re only one person! You have to be everyone — CEO, CFO, R&D, production, marketing, and more.

So, you really need a plan, and be ready to adapt your plan when you get information.

Something that really helps me is to think about college. I went to a fairly demanding undergrad school — most days, I worked 14-16 hours between classes and homework. For FOUR YEARS. At the end of four years, I got a great job that I could do well. But it took FOUR YEARS of working crazy hard. If I hadn’t spent those four years preparing, I wouldn’t have been able to perform as well when I got that job. Now, starting a biz has been more challenging in one specific way: in college, I had all these instructors and professors telling me what I needed to learn. When my husband and I  started a brick-and-mortar business, I didn’t have that. So, I acknowledge that lack of guidance and try to eye what I do critically. But, for me, the real lesson was that I shouldn’t expect to hit the ground and be self-sustaining right away. I once read a statistic (somewhere) something to the effect that most small businesses don’t turn a profit for six years. Yikes. The good news is that that statistic includes LOTS of types of businesses. I think teensy small businesses (one-woman shows, as it were) have an advantage here… so long as we remember to have realistic expectations on the effort and time we’re putting into the work.

You may think I’m not really addressing the question you asked, but I am! I’ll get more specific, but in the mean time, do you have a library card? If not, get one. Really. I read a TON of books before we opened that brick-and-mortar biz. One of the most helpful was Small Business for Dummies. Your library may even have an electronic version you can sign out and read online or your phone.

Soooo… to answer the original question:

  1. I LOVE this photo. It may not be "sxy," but this will get the job done! photo credit: time managment for kids via photopin (license)
    I LOVE this photo. It may not be “sexy,” but this will get the job done! photo credit: time managment for kids via photopin (license)

    Set aside time in your day to work on your biz. Whatever time. If you’re working full time, you should be able to find 3 hours to work on your biz. Get up an hour early, work through lunch, work through dinner BOOM you have your three hours (that’s just an example – figure out where you might find those hours, then start using them!)

  2. MAKE A PLAN, and chip away at that plan during those 3 (or whatever) hours per day). Just work and check things off, DON’T ALLOW DISTRACTIONS, If “something” comes up that you need to address (and that will happen), put it IN the plan (so you’re still working your plan).
  3. Do a little cleaning each day. If you do a little every day, it’s not such a chore. I am a big “list” person. Make a list or schedule: Monday: Vacuum. Tuesdays: Bathroom. Wednesdays: laundry (you get the idea). I really like Motivated Moms. I used her lists for years, and when I (finally) got a smart phone, switched to the app version. Worth every penny. (Psst! You can try the app for free for two weeks!)
  4. Meals. I personally see no need to make meal prep for one or two people a big deal every day. Before I was married, I would really cook one night a week, and then eat that reheated for dinner the rest of the week. After we were married, I prepared a simple dinner daily, but lunches were pretty much salad every day.Once a week, I’d make up a bunch and pop them in the fridge. Simple homemade food is usually a lot healthier than a more involved homemade meal, and it’s ALWAYS healthier than fast/convenience food. Now that we have four at home daily for lunch, things are more involved. You can check out my posts on easy meals for some ideas, and this Pinterest board for a few others.  Let’s just say I love my slow cooker, freeze-dried foods (which cook up fast) and my dishwasher.