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How to ace the time-management test

Oct 10 2012, 13:01   |   By SME Mentor

Gargi Banerjee

Time... It could be your worst enemy or closest ally. Because, let's face it - for an entrepreneur, time is money. But you have a hundred things cramming your schedule, a million things pulling you in different directions all the time, and you never seem to get even half-way through your checklist by the end of the day. Wait, do you even have a checklist?

Entrepreneurs who ace the time-management test are usually good business managers. But it's not about wringing every minute out of every day. The trick is using your time effectively.

The good news is, it's not difficult to learn to manage your time efficiently. All it takes is a little organisation, a little tweaking of your daily routine, and the determination to stick with it. Once you put this into practice, you'll notice the difference in only a couple of days.

Don't turn social media into your worst enemy
Social media platforms can improve your business prospects but the truth is, 90 per cent of the time, they are just a distraction. If you need to use social media to generate business, get someone to do it for you or schedule a time of day if you insist on working these sites yourself. The important thing is to block out all distractions. A good way to do this is to set some time aside for 'planned interruptions', perhaps 30 minutes a day to chat with your employees or business associates. This keeps channels of communication open and it also means you spend time away form your desk.
 
Keep a planner handy
Technology offers umpteen gadgets with planner-like applications. Use them if you aren't already. Make a note of all meetings, appointments and a to-do list with items listed in order of priority. Schedule a beginning and end time for these tasks. All you need now is the discipline to follow through. You will be surprised how much your productivity increases by just sticking to 'the plan'.

Organise your to-do list
If you're running from pillar to post all the time, chances are you're not in control of your time. Moreover, it is imperative that you not only plan a day but a week in advance. Go one step further and sort and categorise tasks. For instance, the first day of every week can be set aside for meetings with clients, employees, suppliers etc. The next day for strategy, the third for sending out important emails etc. Sure, unexpected surprises can throw you off track but get back on course as soon as you can.

Take the bull by the horns
It's natural to avoid things we find difficult. However, if you tackle unpalatable tasks or challenging tasks as soon as your work-day begins, you will be surprised how everything else you do after that seems like a breeze.

The art of delegation
So you've built your business from scratch and you're an ace at multi-tasking. But there comes a time when you need to delegate. When your business is expanding and you have hands on deck, delegate work. You no longer need to check every email or phone cal that comes in from suppliers or marketers. Once you delegate, stop trying to micromanage. This will give you time to concentrate on the important stuff.

Take time out to exercise
You're probably the first to arrive at work and last to leave. This means your mind is working almost 24x7. Take a short break to exercise. Gymming, running or just taking a long walk during your day will keep your body active, perk you up and keep you healthy. There's merit to the Latin phrase Mens sana in corpore sano' or 'a sound mind in a healthy body.

Laughter is the best medicine
There's a reason this is a cliché - it's a super stress-buster. Frustration, goof-ups, delayed shipments, dips in demand... every business has its troughs. That doesn't mean you have to be down in the dumps. To quote another, poignant cliché, laugh your cares away. Lighten up and your problems will seem much smaller than they actually are.

Following these simple steps will ease a lot of stress and you will suddenly find enough time to complete tasks smoothly and efficiently. And, guess what? You will end up spending time with friends and family!


smementor@moneycontrol.com


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