Time management and multitasking are buzz words that have been around in the business world for years. My question to my fellow business mums is, are they real? Everyday we deal with children, spouses, friends and our family and their needs. But how does this impact on the management of our businesses and in particular our time?
Working from home still has the image of women ‘playing at business’ and unless we manage our time effectively, this is exactly what we are. So how do we manage our time effectively to ensure our families are happy, that our customers are happy, but most important that we are happy too?
I’m going to be radical and tell everyone to throw out their ability to multitask. And no, I’m not talking about how we cook tea with a baby on one hip, phone on one ear talking to a ‘needy friend’ having issues while refereeing older children and staving off blood noses. That’s just called being a mum. I’m talking about how we try to do too many business tasks at the same time. Personally, I just can’t do it anymore. Being a Virtual Assistant I pride myself on only charging my client’s for time spent on task. In fact I promote that’s what I do. But what happens when I receive an urgent email request or a friend pops up on instant messaging for a chat? I lose focus and I feel that I’m doing that particular client a disservice. I’m not living up to my personal standards that my business is hinged upon.
To manage our time effectively and efficiently it’s important to create a schedule of sorts and stick to it. Record your family commitments such as sport and other after school commitments, preschool attendance and date night. You also need to record times for doing housework, groceries and other blah tasks that need to be done to keep the household running smoothly. This will then help you to identify time slots that you have available for working in and on your business.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be strict and unattainable. It needs to be the opposite and allow for flexibility and for change. Personally, I know that after I drop my son’s to school and preschool, I allow an hour for tidying up, cleaning the breakfast dishes, to have my shower and to put my baby girl to sleep. As for the actual tidying up it might be sweeping the floors today, it might be cleaning the handprints off the fridge tomorrow. The key is to have some idea of when you are going to do certain tasks and then concentrate solely on that task to ensure it gets done.
When it’s time to work on your business, shut out all distractions including children. If need be, arrange play dates with other WAHM or SAHM so your children still get the play time they need and you get the business time you need. Work on one task at a time until it is done.