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Tips on managing your time when self-employed and working elsewhere

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by Startacus Admin

Being self employed can be more of a juggling act than many other career paths because of the increased responsibility which is places upon you.

The problem with self-employment is that most of the time unless you work with a business partner or employ staff, you have no one apart from yourself there to manage your responsibilities, duties and time.managing time Often you can become disrupted, distracted by side issues, or focused on one issue that becomes your whole focus. “Fighting Fire” is a common work term and if you do not work out a way how to do this and to manage your time, you can be losing a fighting battle from the outset. Here are some of our own tips (that all of us could do with taking a look at every now and again)....

What are your job duties
Firstly, write down all of the things that you most commonly do, and have to do in a working week - everything! Everything includes answering emails, doing paper-work, doing sales calls, having meetings, and even having lunch! Then, rank each of the duties in terms of priority and importance. Answering emails might be important, but is it really as important as finishing the ‘work’ that is your work? Then using an imaginary 100%, try to break up each of your tasks into percentages, so that they total 100% of your working week.

Draw up a timetable
Next draw up a timetable. Your timetable is all dependent on how and when you work and this will be different for each of us. However, if for example you work on your self employed job 2 full days a week, and over the weekend as well, then you have perhaps 25 working hours to divide up. Perhaps you have agreed that doing all of your administration should take 10% of your working week - you need therefore to pencil in 2 and a half hours on your timetable when this should happen. This is often easier said than done, but at least it is a visual reminder of your weekly to-do-list and will often help you when you start to deviate from task to task.

Be strict but flexible!
A contradiction in terms I hear you cry! However there is some truth in this. You need to know when it might be appropriate to be flexible in managing your time and your responsibilities. If for example you have penciled in 8am to 9am to answer all of your emails, but you have been asked to go on an important Skype call at 8.45am with a potential big new client, don’t be silly enough to say you cannot make it! Be flexible in understanding that on occasion you need to make immediate decisions and that after all as long as you respect the timetable, you can be flexible with your timetable!

Don’t stress about the past or the future - just focus on the current
“I have so much to still do” or “I have not heard back from X,Y and Z” - In essence you worry about the things you cannot control. Worrying about the past or the future is natural - but in business terms, if you overly focus on the past or the future, you don’t focus or concentrate on the current. The current may be the meeting you then forget, or the work you were supposed to do and in reality this is a time management issue that you can address..

Make the Business work when you are not working
Either make sure that if you are not there - there are people that you can count on to help (and vice versa) or make sure that simple “out of office” alerts are set up on your email and mobile. Also use online tools such as hootsuite to help with your Social Media and send out your scheduled messages for you, and use tools such as Google documents to store and share all your relevant documents and spreadsheets.

Managing time when self employed can be tough but hopefully these tips help you out along the way and please do comment via the forum if you have any other handy tips! Take a gander at Tips for Working at Home if you like too! 

Join the Self Start society! If you like what you see here on Startacus and want to get involved yourself, why not become a member of our growing community by joining for free here!  

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Published on: 6th November 2012

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