Could you do with another hour added to your day? How about 10? Well, unless you are magical, this isn’t going to happen (unless you hire a Virtual Assistant), so you need to learn how to squeeze every second out of your day. This doesn’t mean packing your schedule so full you are exhausted. It means planning your time, so that you get the most out of it. It means finding balance. This does not mean giving up your free time, but planning it. Here’s a plan to get you started:
Make a schedule. Outline in detail how you will spend every hour of the day. I schedule in blocks of time for my family, and blocks of time for work. I do this in Outlook and set reminders for things I forget (like marketing). With my work blocks, I get specific and add time to work on marketing, meetings, and such. With family time, I only make a note if there is something already planned. Otherwise, I like to leave that time open for whatever we feel like doing. Usually, my rest falls in my family time.
Stick to your schedule. Hey, I know things come up, so I’m not telling you to tell your sick child that they have to take care of themselves for the next 3 hours because you are scheduled to work. What I am telling you is to stick to your schedule 99% of the time (the 1% is for that flexible time). If your child wants to go to the zoo, but you don’t have that planned until Wednesday, let them know that right now is time for you to work, but on Wednesday you can go to the zoo.
Make a to do list. Every time I think of something that needs to be done, I add it to my task list in Outlook. Then, when I sit down for my blocks of time, I look at my task list and see what falls under what my time is blocked for. This makes sure that I am not sitting around trying to figure out what to do, or trying to remember what it was I wanted to do. It keeps me on my toes, and gets things done much quicker.
Be willing to change your schedule. As your life changes, so will your schedule. Be flexible enough to change it, but be fair to yourself and your family when you change it. For example, I have small children, so my schedule is based on their schedule. My day work time is during nap time for them. When they were smaller and took 2 naps (aahh, that was the days), then I had 2 blocks for nap. But, yes, they eventually stopped with 2 naps, and now I had to make one long block. A lot is packed into those 2 hours. I make sure that I take care of business that can’t be done in the evening. Client calls and emails that need a response. Research that needs phone calls done, etc.
Enjoy yourself. Don’t make your schedule so rigid there is not time for play. Schedule that time for play. Hey, I have an hour a day set aside to watch Days of Our Lives (no jokes please). I tape it, and then when it is convenient for me and my schedule, I take the time to relax and watch it.
Now that I have said all this, be flexible in your schedule and if the sun is out, go to the park and feed the birds. Just make sure to take care of yourself, and take care of all your “obligations” by being wise about your time.
© 2005 JERPAT
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Patty Benton is the owner of JERPAT Virtual Assistants and JERPAT Web Design, http://www.moretime4u.org , which provides affordable administrative and web design support to coaches, small businesses, religious organizations, and realtors. Additionally, Patty is a coach for new entrepreneurs interested in venturing into the virtual assistance industry. She has developed a program that is affordable for all. Visit her coaching site at http://www.virtualvacoach.com for program details and great business resources. If you would like to receive Patty's articles and other tips in your mailbox every month, you can sign up at http://www.mortime4u.org/home.html .