11 Secrets To Better Time Management For Entrepreneurs

on February 1, 2009

Why is it that the Bill Gate's of this world are rich and famous? What secret do they know that the rest of us don't? If you study their lives closely, you'll discover the rich and famous have certain habits that attribute to their success. Successful people are very careful about how they spend their time. No matter how you slice it, we all have 24 hours in a day, so the key lies in learning to use our time wisely. Below are some ways you can dramatically increase your productivity through more effective use of your time.

1. MONITOR HOW YOU CURRENTLY USE YOUR TIME: If it seems like your day slips by all too quickly, try creating a log of your daily activities. Once you see where you are spending your time, you can identify and focus on the activities that provide the greatest returns for you personally and financially. Start your log by writing down what time you wake up, get ready, and begin work. Calculate how much time you spend on individual activities such as email, phone calls, and client work.

=> FREE TIME TRACKING TOOL: Here's a personal time survey to help you discover how much time you spend on various work activities: Personal Time Survey Tracker

2. CALCULATE HOW MUCH YOUR TIME IS WORTH: Time is money. Knowing how much your time is actually worth can help you make better decisions as to whether you should perform a task or outsource it. For instance, if your time is worth $200 an hour, you are far better off paying someone $30 an hour to edit your newsletter. You can "bank" the other $170 per hour by spending your time on profit making activities. Also take the time to determine how much time a day you need to spend on billable activities to make your desired profit. I try to spend 1.5 hours a day on money making projects.

=> FREE TIME COSTING TOOL: Here's a time costing worksheet to help you determine how much you are actually when you subtract the expenses. Time Costing Sheet

3. CREATE A DAILY SCHEDULE: Don't start your day without a to do list. Make a list of tasks and categorize them into business building activities, client activities, and personal items. Then break bigger unmanageable projects into smaller "doable" chunks so they less intimidating and are easier to accomplish.

=> FREE DAILY TO DO LIST: Try this free all inclusive WebMomz To Do List
4. PRIORITIZE: Have more to do than hours in the day? By prioritizing your tasks, you'll make sure that you are tackling the items that matter most. Create a system that works for you. One standard way of prioritizing is to mark items with A, B, and C.

Ask yourself these key questions:
What items MUST be done today?Which items can be rescheduled?What can be delegated?Which tasks most closely match my priorities and goals?Which items can be eliminated?

5. LEARN TO SAY NO: Are you adding one more item to your never-ending TO DO list? You are in control of your time. Be strong and uphold your personal boundaries. When you are well rested and treat yourself and your family to the time off you deserve, you'll feel happier and more productive when it's time to go back to work. **
Before you say yes, ask yourself these questions:
Do you really have the time or energy to do that extra task?Do I like this customer? Are they good for me?Will it be profitable?Does it invade on your personal time?Does it involve doing something you enjoy?Does it fit in with your list of priorities and goals?

6. REMOVE DISTRACTIONS AND TIME SUCKS: Time sucks are lurking everywhere like viruses. Think about which activities are eating up your time. For me personally, these items include email, social calls, and telemarketers. I "conquer" the email demon by shutting down my Outlook when I am working. When a family member calls during work time, I politely ask if I can call them back during the afternoon and remind them of my work hours. Caller ID valiantly saves me from the "would be" telemarketer time thieves. With one glance, I can quickly differentiate telemarketers from important client calls.

7. STICK TO THE PLAN: Try not to get sidetracked from your plan. One of my friends has a motto, "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency for me". It's a smart one to live by. Unless it's a true emergency, or you are being paid "rush" time, you probably don't need to squeeze a last minute request in today. Also, by assigning yourself project deadlines, you can keep on top of projects and avoid those dreaded last minute emergencies.

8. CHOOSE AN INSPIRING PLACE AND TIME: We are all "built" differently. Do the tasks which take your most "brain power" when you are at your prime. Are you a morning person or do you work best burning the midnight oils? Create an ultimate work haven that is clean, distraction free, and inspiring. My office overlooks my flower garden and is right in the heart of family activity. As I glance to the right, our Angel fish "Spike" proudly parades across the fish tank. In front of me, Monet has a glorious display of peach poppies in a field. Above me, Monet is painting a vivid portrait of his flower garden. In the living room, my son is softly singing the Spiderman theme to himself - music to my ears!

9. BUNDLE LIKE TASKS TOGETHER: As you work through your daily list, try to chunk your tasks into like activities. By creating a separate "chunk" of time for answering email, invoicing, making return phone calls, you'll save time and mental energy.

10. AVOID INTERRUPTIONS: Trying to do the same thing over and over again with interruptions can be maddening. Once you start a task, try to finish it to the end. If something comes up that you need to remember or do, unless it's urgent, simply add it to your list and continue on with your current project.

11. BE ORGANIZED: When things are tidy, it saves you time and frees you to focus on the task at hand. Digging through a pile of papers and finding a squished Twinkie isn't very conducive to the work experience. Follow your own organizational style.

PHONE LISTS: For instance, I arrange my phone lists into groups according to how I use them: friends, family, doctors, my children's playmates, etc. I also list people in my phone book that I talk to on a first name basis by their first name alphabetically. For instance, I list my mom under "M" and my brother under "T" for Troy. "D" has a list of all my doctors. This works for me, because it's how I think.

EMAILS: Another time saving idea is to color code your emails. In my personal color scheme I use one color for clients, one for newsletters, and another for my coworkers. You can also group your emails using categories and folders.

ONE CALENDAR MEETS ALL: Keeping track of work appointments, Brownie meetings, and committee meetings can be very difficult. My secret to keeping on top of family and work appointments is to schedule them all on one calendar.

DAYTIMER SPECIAL SECTION: Create a special section of your Daytimer just for special interests, hobbies, or kids. My husband keeps one with all his stock info. I have a special kid section with phone numbers for Brownie leaders, playmates, doctors, school contacts, bus number and other items.

SUMMARY: Why wait for success when you can literally schedule it! By mastering your time, you can accomplish much more with less effort. Be choosey about how you spend your time. Focus on activities which most closely match your goals. By taking time to monitor, measure, and manage your time, you will enjoy an abundance of success and happiness.

10 Ways To Stimulate Employee Motivation

on January 30, 2009

Today’s fast-moving business environment demands that the effective manager be both a well-organized administrator and highly adept in understanding people’s basic needs and behaviour in the workplace. Gaining commitment, nurturing talent, and ensuring employee motivation and productivity require open communication and trust between managers and staff.

1. Understand their behaviour
People at work naturally tend to adopt instinctive modes of behaviour that are self-protective rather than open and collaborative. This explains why emotion is a strong force in the workplace and why management often reacts violently to criticisms and usually seeks to control rather than take risks. So, in order to eliminate this kind of perspective and to increase employee motivation, it is best that you influence behaviour rather than to change personalities. Insisting what you expect from your employees will only worsen the situation.

2. Be sure that people’s lower-level needs are met.
People have various kinds of needs. Examples of lower-level needs are salary, job security, and working conditions. In order to increase employee motivation, you have to meet these basic needs. Consequently, failures with basic needs nearly always explain dissatisfaction among staff. Satisfaction, on the other hand, springs from meeting higher-level needs, such as responsibility progress, and personal growth. When satisfaction is met, chances are employee motivation is at hand.

3. Encourage pride
People need to feel that their contribution is valued and unique. If you are a manager, seek to exploit this pride in others, and be proud of your own ability to handle staff with positive results. This, in turn, will encourage employee motivation among your people.

4. Listen carefully
In many areas of a manager’s job, from meetings and appraisals to telephone calls, listening plays a key role. Listening encourages employee motivation and, therefore, benefits both you and your staff. So make an effort to understand people’s attitudes by careful listening and questioning and by giving them the opportunity to express themselves.

5. Build confidence
Most people suffer from insecurity at some time. The many kinds of anxiety that affect people in organizations can feed such insecurity, and insecurity impedes employee motivation. Your antidote, therefore, is to build confidence by giving recognition, high-level tasks, and full information. In doing so, you only not refurbish employee motivation but boost productivity as well.

6. Encourage contact
Many managers like to hide away behind closed office doors, keeping contact to a minimum. That makes it easy for an administrator, but hard to be a leader. It is far better to keep your office door open and to encourage people to visit you when the door is open. Go out of your way to chat to staff on an informal basis. Keep in mind that building rapport with your staff will effectively increase employee motivation.

7. Use the strategic thinking of all employees.
It is very important to inform people about strategic plans and their own part in achieving the strategies. Take trouble to improve their understanding and to win their approval, as this will have a highly positive influence on performance and increasing employee motivation as well.

8. Develop trust
The quality and style of leadership are major factors in gaining employee motivation and trust. Clear decision making should be coupled with a collaborative, collegiate approach. This entails taking people into your confidence and explicitly and openly valuing their contributions. By simply giving your staff the opportunity to show that you can trust them is enough to increase employee motivation among them.

9. Delegate decisions
Pushing the power of decision-making downward reduces pressure on senior management. It motivates people on the lower levels because it gives them a vote of confidence. Also, because the decision is taken nearer to the point of action, it is more likely to be correct. Consequently, by encouraging them to choose their own working methods, make decisions, and giving them responsibility for meeting the agreed goal will encourage employee motivation among your staff.

10. Appraising to motivate
When choosing methods of assessing your staff’s performance, always make sure that the end result has a positive effect on employee motivation and increases people’s sense of self-worth. Realistic targets, positive feedback, and listening are key factors.

If you follow these simple steps in increasing employee motivation, rest assured you will have a good working relationship with your staff at the same time boost you company’s productivity. Just bear in mind that people are employed to get good results for the company. Their rates of success are intrinsically linked to how they are directed, reviewed, rewarded, trusted, and motivated by the management.

How To Make A Net - Work!

on January 25, 2009

Many job seekers are confused about networking, and therefore doubt its effectiveness. Networking is the art of building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. So, like anything else, networking requires a bit of practice and finesse, but if done correctly, networking can be an invaluable part of your job search campaign.

Here are a few tips that can help develop a network that works for you:

Be Patient
Networking doesn't happen overnight; it's a process. Networking is not just something you can check off your job search list like "Send resume to Pfizer".
While people may want to help you, they might not be able to do so right away.Quite simply, you may not be the first item on their agenda. So, if someone agrees to meet with you but can't do so immediately, accept their offer graciously and patiently. Never let an opportunity to meet with someone during the course of networking slip away. Always be open to meeting!

Be Authentic and Kind
When you do meet with someone resulting from your scheduling attempts, take a sincere interest in their life, not just the information or possible assistance they can offer you. Don't push people for their knowledge or connections and then abandon the relationship. Networking means fostering relationships. This objective cannot be achieved by one person constantly taking while the other person constantly gives information or time. Relationships are built on trust and sharing over time.

Remember, one day you might be in a reverse career position; so be considerate and respectful to all you meet. Find ways to periodically reconnect with the contacts in your network to stay up to date on their lives,and let them know that you genuinely care about what is going on with them. Also, connecting and re-connecting, take the time to let them know that their advice and counsel was heard and put to good use. Acknowledging their individual value to you and to your career. Reinforcement of the time and advice offered by those in your network will foster gratefulness, awareness of their value to you and encourage them to continue helping you and others.

Be a Conduit
Remember, the objective of networking is…well…more networking. You should be constantly adding people to your list of contacts. Always find more contacts to meet and, in turn, become a great connector yourself! Open up your network to others. Hopefully they'll follow suit and do the same for you, keeping the cycle going. Think about those contacts who could help others in your network,then introduce them!

Be a Teacher
Keep in mind that not everyone you meet will understand what networking is or how they can help you. Many people think that the best way they can help you as a job seeker is to take your resume and pass it along to their human resources department. While their intentions are noble, their strategy won't help you and could actually wind up being counter-productive and consequently,losing you a great job.

HR managers, like recruiters, are sometimes only motivated to take action on your resume if there is a current job opening within the organization that matches your skills. If a position is not available, they have no incentive to contact you and the connection is lost.
Rather than giving your contacts a resume, ask them if they could introduce you to a member of their company so that you can learn more about their position, industry, and organization. This way, you'll learn more about the company, share information about yourself, and begin to build a relationship rather than ending up as just another resume lost at the bottom of the pile.

Be a Helper

Networking is all about reciprocity. No matter who you're dealing with, you should always try to give more than you receive. For example, if you have information about a particular company, industry, or educational program that would be valuable to someone in your network, share it. By sharing you will help others and in turn, others will help you.

Whether you're currently employed or job seeking is irrelevant - networking is a constant process. Obviously, you'll be more on the receiving end of your contacts' information when you're on the look out for a new job. But that just means you need to work that much harder at giving information and sharing your network while happily employed.

If you're constantly looking for ways to help people in your network achieve their goals, they'll be much more likely to help you in return. But it does not mean your need to help everyone from your Network! Do not try to know in advance what the person may help you with... Keep your Net-Work alive and things will arise by themselves...

3 Steps to Stop Absence and Make People Happy At Work

on January 24, 2009

If you're an employer or a manager then work place absence is costing you money, inconvenience, and upsetting your customers. And as we all know, not all days taken off work are due to genuine sickness. Many employees "take a sickie" because their morale is low and they just don't like or can't do their work.

The challenge for employers and managers is to make people happier at work. And if people are happy at work then they are less likely to take a day off every time they wake up with a stuffy nose.

Some bosses think that paying more money, improving job security or working conditions is the answer. It isn't and it's also something that can be very hard to achieve.
People who employ or supervise other people need to become more tuned to their employees' emotional needs and find out what really motivates them. This is also much easier to achieve than paying more money or improving job security, however there is no quick fix. To reduce the amount of absence there are three steps you need to consider.

Firstly, pick the right person for the job. You need to get better at interviewing and selecting people.

Take more time over it;pay more attention to the applicant's human side rather than their qualifications or experience. Get to know them better.
Find out what makes them happy, how well they get on with other people and how much energy and enthusiasm they have. Make sure they know what they're getting into and be sure the job suits them.

Secondly, you need to believe in your people. If you've interviewed well and picked the right person for the job then you need to trust them to do that job. You need to constantly demonstrate to your people that you trust and believe in them by what you say, your tone of voice and your body language.

If you believe that your people are not to be trusted, that they're unable to make a decision without checking with you. That they'll turn up late and go home early, then that's exactly what they'll do.

If on the other hand you believe that they'll do their job well, that they can be trusted to make decisions and they'll give you a fair day's work, then it is more likely this is what you'll get.
As with all theories there is no guarantee that it will work every time, however the majority of employees are reasonable people and if you treat them as such then they are more likely to behave in a positive manner.

The third and probably the most important thing you can do to reduce abscence and motivate your people is to give them feedback and coach them.
This is where so many employers and managers fall down in dealing with their people; they're hopeless at giving feedback. Many managers are uncomfortable telling staff how they feel about their work performance.

Most employees want to know how they are performing in their job; they want to know if they are doing it right or how they could do it better.

If you really want to motivate your people then you need to give them feedback on what they're doing well and what needs improvement.

When you notice an employee doing something you do like, tell them about it. When you notice something you don't like, tell them about it.

Do it as soon as possible. Acknowledging a job well done is not much good six months later. Also, if you don't immediately call someone's attention to something you're not happy about, then they'll assume its okay. Either that orthey'll think you didn't notice or you don't care.

Do it in private. Why is it some managers still feel its okay to reprimand someone in front of their colleagues? Even the mildest rebuke can have a negative effect on morale.

When you do speak to the person use "I" messages. Say things like "I liked the way you did that" or "I'm unhappy with the way your reports are always late and I'd like your views on why this is."

Avoid "You" messages such as "You're doing great." That can come across as patronising or insincere. "You're doing that all wrong" may cause conflict, lowermorale and may not sort the problem.

Focus on one or two things. Don't run off a whole list of attributes or misdemeanours. Also be specific about job behaviour, focus on what the person did or didn't do, don't make a personal attack.

Employees will feel happier if they perceive their employer or manager as a reasonable and fair individual - someone who is quick to praise but also says when they're not happy about something.

The message is - if you want motivated staff then make their work interesting, give them feedback and give them the feeling that they're involved in the business.

We can make the job more interesting by giving people more responsibility, assigning projects and by training and developing them. We need to regularly give people feedback on how they're doing; focussing on what they're doing well rather than on what is not so good. To meet their need to feel involved we should regularly communicate both formally and informally. We could also involve staff in meetings they might not normally attend.

These steps will take time and thought however they'll make a huge difference as to how employees feel about their work. If they feel good and gain satisfaction from their work then they're less likely to find a reason to "take asickie".

3 Myths That Ruin Meetings

on January 22, 2009

These myths have cost companies billions of dollars in wasted payroll money.

Myth #1) Structure spoils spontaneity.

I once attended a two-day long disaster that easily cost over $40,000. Thirty people spent the first hour seeking an issue to discuss, then spent the next 15 hours arguing over insolvable problems. When I asked the manager who called the meeting, "Where's the agenda?" the reply was, "I didn't want to spoil the spontaneity by imposing a structure."

Reality: If spontaneity were a universally sound business practice we would build buildings without blueprints. Of course, no smart business leader works without a plan.

The Fix: Set a goal and then prepare an agenda. Ideally, this agenda should be so clear, complete, and specific that someone else could use it to lead the meeting to obtain the accomplish the goal.

Myth #2: Since it's my meeting I should do all the talking.

Some meetings are run like a medieval court. The chairperson sits on a verbal throne while the subjects sit in respectful silence. The big talker justifies this by thinking: if the other people in the meeting knew anything worthwhile, they'd be leading the meeting.

Reality: If you're the only one talking, you're working too hard. In addition, realize that most people protect themselves from extended monologues by sending their thoughts off on a holiday. That is, no one is paying attention to you: they're busy daydreaming, doodling, or dreaming.

The Fix: Convey large amounts of information by a memo or email. Then call a meeting based on participant driven activities that test or reinforce comprehension.

Myth #3: Meetings are free.
Most meetings are paid for with soft money. That is, it's money that has already been spent for wages. In addition, no purchase request is necessary. No budget needs to be approved. All someone has to do is call a meeting.

Reality: Meetings are very expensive. They use people's time, and payroll is the largest part of running a business. When people hold bad meetings, they waste the most important resource in a business - the time people that spend working to earn a profit for the company.

The Fix: Design meetings to earn a profit. After all, a meeting is a business activity, not a company picnic.

Learn more about Effective Meetings at: http://www.squidoo.com/OneGreatMeeting/