Category: small business

Jun 21 2012

Setting Realistic Deadlines

Today, the vast majority of people find themselves living over-scheduled lives in which they try to cram activities into every moment of the day. Time is money, as the saying goes, but it can also cost a great deal if you are not using it wisely. The stress you suffer puts a lot of wear and tear on your body and can lead to health problems if you are not careful.

In the current economy, adding money-related stress to the mix can be the difference between someone who can breeze through the day making the most of every task, and someone who feels like they are carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders.

It is only natural to want to tackle everything on your to do list in order to do a good job and move up the ladder in your career. However, some people do not meet their deadlines consistently. Others meet them, but with only moments to spare.

If you are working as a freelancer, you have probably discovered by now that time is money. On the one hand, you need to keep the cash flowing in. On the other hand, you seem to never have a moment to yourself.

One of the secrets to successful time management is to set realistic deadlines and benchmarks or goals for larger projects. Goals that are too easy or too difficult might cause you to lose motivation. Deadlines that are too tight will cause you a lot of stress, and also make you produce work that is less than your best.

If a client wants a project in 2 days when it will normally take you 5, be honest about it and negotiate. They will have to pay more for a rush job, and/or they will also have to understand that the quality will not be as high as it would usually be because you will not have time to check things over as thoroughly.

If you can’t say no to your boss, promise that you will do your best, and then clear the decks. Pay attention to anything urgent that might crop up in the next 2 days, and once they are taken care of, start working on the project. You don’t want to miss the new project deadline, it is true, but you also do not want to be late on three other projects that you were just putting the finishing touches to for the sake of one.

Once you analyze different tasks and the time frame in which they need to be completed, estimate realistically how much time it will take to finish them, and then double your estimate in order to give yourself a comfortable cushion in case unexpected things arise.

Then block out time for these tasks on your calendar and be sure to check it and your to do list often to make sure you are target to meet your deadlines. If you are not, then pare down any other tasks you are doing until the project is complete. Then clear the decks as best you can with other high-priority tasks before you tackle your next large project with a set deadline.

FURTHER READING:

Transforming Stress Into Success: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Success in Today’s Economy”

How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

Are You Suffering from Money-Related Stress, or Depression?

Jun 15 2012

Effective Time Management Through To Do Lists

Time management is one of the most important skills any business person can possess in the 21st century. We are all very busy, so working smarter, not harder, is the only solution to get everything done and still leave time for the important things in life.

If you find yourself constantly crunched for time and feeling like you are running as fast as you can just to stand still, one of the best steps you can take in the direction of more effective time management is to create a to-do list that you will maintain on a regular basis.

There are a number of ways to do this. One is to simply write down the task as soon as it occurs to you, or enter it on a spreadsheet or in a wordprocessing program. Creating a digital to-do list can be extremely handy because you can reorder the information at any time.

Time management experts suggest that you try grouping together similar tasks and activities in order to increase efficiently and get all of the tasks and activities done in a timely manner.

Another tactic for managing your time and getting more done is to set a specific time for the activities on your calendar. Calculate how much time you will need and pencil it into your schedule. Deadlines can help you focus on the task at hand and not allow you to drift through the day, especially if you are working at home or run your own business and only report to yourself.

We all get different moods on different days, and have different scheduled weekly meetings and other events. If you have a lot of preparation to do for those meetings, do not leave the work until the last minute. Do not leave the tasks that you dislike the most until the last minute either. Make these a priority and you will soon be pleased with how fast you complete those tasks and will therefore be able to get on with other important items on your list. The stress of putting things off or resisting the tasks you hate but have to do can make you unable to focus on other things and prevent you from working at your peak efficiency.

Procrastination is extremely prevalent amongst even the smartest of workers. By setting deadlines, you are giving yourself little or no choice but to get on with the items on your list. It is also good discipline. If the date slips by an hour or two when you are the boss, that is fine, but if it does in reference to a project for a major client, it could mean disaster. Estimate how long a task will take, then double that time to give yourself a cushion for interruptions, computer issues and more.

This is an especially valuable technique if you are working freelance, since time literally is money when you are working on an hourly or per project basis. The challenge of freelancing is balancing the projects you have with seeking new ones and doing self-promotion in order to keep the cash coming in. Managing your time and your to-do list should be seen as your path to profitability.

Check your to-do list each morning when you start work, in the afternoon at lunch, and in the evening about an hour before you plan to stop work for the day. Pieces of paper that you jot down notes on are fine to help remind you of anything that pops into your head or comes up when you are talking to a colleague or client, but be sure to keep one master to-do list on a spreadsheet or wordprocessed document that you can refer back to, edit and change.

You can also print out a copy of it to take with you when you are out of the office or if you are commuting on public transport, to help you make notes, set deadlines, or make organizational plans.

For example, you might get a large project that seems overwhelming to even think about, but you need the money. The best way to handle large projects is to break them down into smaller ones that can be accomplished and keep you on target to meet your deadline.

To-do lists can be one of the most effective means of organization and time management if you use them in conjunction with your day planner/calendar to help keep your productivity level up and your stress level down as you complete all your work and meet all your deadlines with ease.

Further Reading
How to Manage Your Time Each Day: Essential Time Management Skills

How to Create an Organized and Productive Home Office

Transforming Stress Into Success: How to Minimize Stress and Maximize Success in Today’s Economy

Jul 09 2010

How to fund a new business

Here is a useful article on how to find the funding for your new start up business.

Jul 07 2010

How to start your own small business affordably Part 2

Here is the second part of the handy article on how to start your own small business affordably.

Jul 05 2010

How to start your own business affordably Part 1

Here is a handy article on how to start your own small business affordably.

Jul 03 2010

How to open your own 99 cent store

Many people are interested in starting their own business, and a 99 cent store seems a sure-fire way to get up and running in a franchise or independent store of their very own. Here is a great article that gives you the basics on what you need to know before deciding whether or not to run your own 99 cent store.

Dec 23 2009

Entrepreneur Magazine

Entrepreneur Magazine is a great magazine to look at if you are thinking of going into business for yourself. Why not take advantage of this terrific special offer now:


Save $10 and get software with every guide!

Dec 17 2009

How to Start a Freelance Career

You REALLY CAN Work at Home and Earn an Excellent Income

Imagine being able to work from your own home, doing a job you love, and
getting paid handsomely for doing it. Wouldn’t that be great?

Well, the good news is that this is not just a fantasy. It is a prospect that is
well within your reach. Today, millions of people worldwide have established
highly-successful careers as freelance professionals. Writers, designers,
programmers and many other home-based consultants have discovered that
freelancing offers the perfect combination of freedom, creativity, flexibility
and profitability.

So do you need years of experience and fantastic qualifications to join these
lucky people? Not at all. You just need a skill that you can offer to potential
clients, and the willingness to learn how to run a home-based business.

Of course, the biggest challenge for new freelancers is finding enough work to
justify giving up a day job. How can you be sure that you will keep yourself
busy with lucrative work? This used to be a concern, but thanks to the advent of
the Internet, things are now much easier.

Now there are a number of job sites dedicated to helping freelancers find work
and stay busy. Go Freelance, for example, brings you hundreds of
fresh freelance jobs like these:

Write for Discussion Boards: $1200 per week, plus bonus
A writer is needed for an ongoing writing project. You will need to write copy
to stimulate others into joining the discussion board. The writer needs to
actively encourage regular and meaningful debate on the relevant discussion
board, with some moderating of the content. You must have solid writing skills
and good ideas.

Administer a Web Business from Home: $4000 per month
A successful e-commerce venture is seeking a part-time virtual assistant to act
as a home-based office manager. You will deal with email correspondence, update
site content and deal with general admin issues. You should have your own
computer and Internet access.

Transcribe Author’s Notes: $80 per hour, flexible working
A publishing company is seeking a freelance with an eye for detail to
transcribe authors’ notes and recordings for a range of ongoing projects. You
must have a good grasp of English, be able to edit content into readable form,
and be able to submit work from home by email.

You can sign up for a trial subscription for just $7.00, and get instant
access to all the projects in the jobs database. So if you would like to get
started on the road to freelance success right now, click here to sign up
today
.