Category: Time Management

LifeBalanceThat’s right, there is no such thing.  Many talk about it and strive toward it but few have found an acceptable definition of the concept.  So what is it and how do we define it?  The word “balance” can be a bit deceptive here.  When we think of balance we think of equality or an even number on either side of an equation, but when it comes to our time and balancing our work life and personal life, we cannot think of balance in those terms.  Here, there is no such thing.  This is so because we simply cannot schedule an equal number of hours for work and for our personal life.  What people call “work-life balance” I see as harmony.  Balance in this sense is not static as it may normally be depicted with scales perfectly aligned.  Life, though is dynamic, more like a symphony; harmonious with various pieces coming together as one to make beautiful music.

Having that harmony present not only supports productivity, but keeps you healthy along with keeping those in your life happy too.  So then, the question becomes, “How do you get there?”  To initiate the process, it’s important to know what you want your life to look like.  So ask yourself what harmony would look like in your life and figure out what you want to create.  Look at your values—what’s important to you and what priority does each one of those things have?  Is family one of your top priorities?  If you’re single family might not have the same priority level for someone who’s married with children.  Determine amounts of time you want to spend in each area based upon what you want to make happen.  Look at the goals that you’ve set too.  The should be representative of  your values, but it’s another place to look to be sure to consider all of the instruments that are a part of your symphony of life.

Once that’s done, you have to have a system in place for helping you manage yourself around time.  Life doesn’t work without it.  That system should include the processes, tools and people (other than you) who help to make things work.  Equip yourself with what’s necessary to support your work style and your lifestyle and develop the habits to make the system work for you.  They must also be taught how to manage themselves, maintain self discipline and continue to be responsible and accountable which will all take time.  It really is all about you, not about what this might look like for someone else, but what you say it is.  The reality is that what people term “balance” shifts from time to time based upon the roles we play and we, as conductors, have to be mindful of those shifts in order to maintain that harmony.  Otherwise, life does not work.

Making Time

SpiralClock-Smaller2Time!  There never seems to be enough of it to get in all of the things we want or need to do. That’s the thought or conclusion on everyone’s mind. Well, here’s a news flash for you…YOU AREN’T GOING TO GET ANY MORE TIME! What you have is what you get.  That’s it; no more!  You get the same amount of time as I or anyone else and no matter how hard you wish, want, complain, or ask, more time is something that is not coming your way.  The thing about time is that it’s elusive and intangible, which makes it pretty slippery, so you have to learn to work with what you’ve got.

So now that I’ve given you that rude awakening, let me clue you in.  No matter what stage your business is in—start up, just starting to fly or one that’s been established for quite some time, the thing that you must do is manage your business appropriately.  That means understanding not just what it takes, but the amount of time that it takes to do so and planning accordingly.  You can have everything set up, have the knowledge to run your business under your belt, and be ready to rock and roll, but none of it means anything without you being in action.  Before you take action you’ve got to make the time to consider what needs to be done, how and when it’s getting done and who’s doing it.

When it comes to business, most owners think of all the logical or practical pieces of the puzzle that have to come together.  What they don’t think about is setting up systems to make things run smoothly and maximize their time and if they do think about business systems, they almost always forget about having one that supports managing their time.  If you don’t learn how to manage time, time and other people will manage you simply because you haven’t made the time to go about setting up that system.  As with the creation of other systems, you have to consider what the process is and determine each of the steps in the process.  After that comes choosing the tool or tools to support the process and finally, the people who will perform the tasks.

Once that system is set up, the focus has to be on implementing it and using it every day if you actually mean to get anything accomplished.  Some argue that planning wastes time, but the opposite is true.  For every minute you spend planning, you save 10 in the execution phase.  As you plan your day to day to-dos, properly estimating the amount of time that things take is key.  If you’re unsure of how long something is going to take, take a realistic guess, then log the amount of time that you spend on that task.  Once it’s complete you’ll know how long it took and will know what amount of time it will take in the future.  Over time you’ll get better at estimating your time so that your days aren’t crazy.

In consideration of what some say about planning, let’s look at the cold, hard facts.  Saving yourself ten minutes in the execution of the plan translates into the time that you make to plan giving you a return of ten times, which is 1,000 percent on the investment of your time and personal energy.  That is huge!  Where else can you make an investment and get this kind of return?  Another fact of the matter is that it only takes about 10-12 minutes to plan your day.  That small investment will save you about two hours every day, which translates to about a 25 percent increase in your level of productivity.  Regular planning has you spend more time on activities of higher value, which increases your effectiveness and your efficiency in everything you do. When you look at the facts you can see the advantages that making time affords you.  It’s a key component when it comes to the foundation of your business and without it sooner or later you end up paying the price.


Productivity Chat

Highlights From March 3rd #Productivitychat

Storified by Sheila Hawkins· Mon, Mar 04 2013 09:55:14

Question I posed earlier this week: How much time did you waste in email, looking for things, etc? #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Now, we know you most likely wasted time this past week, but probably don’t know how much. Create an estimate #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Once you have the amount of time you wasted, multiply it by your hourly rate (what you charge your clients) #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
That dollar amount is what the time you wasted cost you. Might be painful, but it’s true. Time to get it together #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Fact: The average professional spends about 12.5-15 hours on email each week #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
There is no need to waste time in email–there ARE ways to manage it and control your overflowing inbox… #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Get control of your inbox.Use filters, folders and rules to sort email; unsubscribe from lists that don’t serve you… #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Stop checking your email as soon as you start your day. Instead focus on a priority task and check email 1.5-2 hours in #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Set designated times to check and reply to email (twice/day is good). Stay focused by closing email when you’re not in it #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Fact: Most professionals spend 1.5-2 hours each day looking for things—in their office, on their computer. Time to GO #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
It’s not necessary to waste time looking for things—time to organize your office space. Find things in < 30 seconds #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Take the dollar amount you came up with and multiply it by 5 (number of work days in the week) Can you say, "ouch"? #productivitychatSheila Hawkins
Get organized, learn how to manage yourself, stop wasting time and increase productivity and your bottom line! #productivitychatSheila Hawkins

As women, we each wear quite a number of hats—mother, wife, caregiver to name a few.  More and more, women are adding the role of business owner, more specifically, entrepreneur, to their lives.  Over 10 million businesses are owned by women; 1.9 million of them are owned by women of color.  Never before have so many women been calling the shots.

Clearly, women mean business, but to really mean business you have to handle your business.  Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?

  • You waste time looking for things because your paperwork isn’t organized
  • Your tax returns aren’t filed on time because you can’t find all of your receipts
  • You incur late fees due to bills not being paid on time
  • You miss connecting or following up with prospective and current clients
  • At times you feel overwhelmed
  • You’re working plenty of hours but nothing’s getting done

Unfortunately, these things happen quite often and are a way of life for a lot of women in business.  Because you wear multiple hats and because life moves at the speed of sound, you have to create systems that support you in running your business.

First things first, tame that paper tiger!  Set up a solid filing system so that every piece of paper has a home.  Your paper filing system should have three categories: reference, action and archive.  Determine which files fit each category and set up your system accordingly.  If your paper has a home, you’ll spend a lot less time looking for it and more time getting things done.  Chances are that if your paper files aren’t orderly, your computer files aren’t either.  Your electronic filing system should look just like your paper system.

You can’t successfully run a business if you don’t have a good accounting system in place.  For accurate and easily accessible records and having everything in one place, choose one of the user friendly accounting software packages on the market.  Set up files for your receipts, client invoices, bills, etc and a process for entering things into your software so that everything gets recorded.  Use the benefits that the software has to offer to the fullest extent.

To keep track of your prospective and existing clients, use a contact management system that will allow you to not only enter an individual’s contact information, but one that will allow you to make note of where you met them and what product or service they might be interested in.  You also want to be able to track the times that you’ve spoken with them or attempted to contact them and have a way to set reminders for future follow up.

Finally, you have to manage yourself in a way that has you on top of everything and getting things done.  If you don’t currently have a time management tool that is working well for you, it’s time to assess why it’s not working and determine what would be more appropriate for you. Once you have it, learn how to use every feature and use it to its fullest capacity and set up other components as a part of your time management system.

Put these things into place and use them regularly, and you can be rid of the aforementioned scenarios and have control of every aspect of your business.  Even when you’re wearing multiple hats, with these things in place you will be large and in charge, calling all the shots; able to handle your business.


Choosing a tool to help you manage your time and having it not work for you is frustrating.  This happens more often than I’d like to think, but I see it all of the time.  People either get caught up in the latest and greatest gadget and purchase it to help them or they simply don’t know that choosing a tool that fits your time management personality is of the utmost importance.  Before you make a choice about a tool to support you, you have to take the steps to discover your own time management personality.

How you relate to time is a personal thing, not a one size fits all type of thing, so choosing a tool that fits your personality is so important. It can make the difference between you being able to manage your time effectively or not. The problem is that there are so many tools to choose from, and people don’t know how to make the right choice; they may not even think about it. I’ve seen people go and purchase a tool without considering what they need according to their time management personality and then end up not liking it and having it not work for them. This only adds to the existing frustration that comes with not being able to manage your time. To avoid making this mistake, make the time to discover your own time management personality and preferences.

Let me give you a prime example of what happens when you don’t make time management a personal thing.  A number of years ago, someone that I know purchased a Palm Pilot and started to implement its use instead of using her Franklin Planner. It was the latest and greatest thing on the market so she thought it would be the best thing to support her.  It turns out that she absolutely hated the Palm and having it was taking more time out of her already busy days.  What I understood was that it wasn’t the tool; it performed perfectly well. The problem was that it wasn’t the tool for her. It didn’t fit her time management personality so it was hard for her to use effectively. Which is why when she went back to using her Franklin, things were just fine. Her personality was a fit for a paper tool, not a digital one.

Once you discover your personality, you have a number of options to choose from, and your choices are based on what you discover.  Your personality will be the indicator as to whether you should go with a paper planner, such as the Franklin Covey system, which give your the advantage of  not having software to learn, nothing to charge on a regular basis, no batteries to replace and you can file the old calendars or planner pages for future reference; or a digital tool that gives you the advantage of being able to search for and retrieve information quickly, group and rearrange information easily, backing up to your desktop, and easy access for others, which is great if you have someone who needs access to your information. You might have a personality that dictates a tool that gives you a combination of both types of tools.

People quite often make the mistake of choosing a time management tool without knowing their time management personality. Choosing a tool that fits your personality is a key element in effectively managing your time. There are so many products on the market to choose from, but which one is right for you?


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