Operating a business online seems downright dreamy from a time management perspective: portable, flexible, and primed to convert users on an around-the-clock basis, e-business adapts to your bustling lifestyle.
Or does it? Between the persistent demands of client communication and content management, where’s the time to enjoy the payout of your hard work? Having that laptop hum persistently with the ongoing needs of an online business can create more time management issues than you bargained for.
Effective time management dictates online success, particularly from a client-based perspective where requests must be attended to as quickly as possible and customer service still reigns supreme. Let’s consider six memorable tips for mastering time management for online business.
Don’t feel daunted by the day’s slew of tasks: slice priorities into manageable “chunks”. For example, Dawn Foster of GigaOM.com schedules all her weekly client meetings for Mondays, freeing up the rest of the week for larger blocks of time devoted to completing projects.
Batching and prioritizing operate hand-in-hand here: schedule a solid hour for responding to emails, first thing in the morning. Tackle high-priority tasks first, leaving minor administrative duties for later. Keeping it “chunky” will help you stay driven: with two hours scheduled for a specific task, you will aim to complete it within that time.
Don’t forget the fun stuff: give yourself “chunks” for social media perusal, exercise, and other leisurely activities within the workday.
It’s Tool Time
Utilize the hardware that aids time management online. White boards for maintaining schedules and project deadlines, smartphone apps like Evernote, plain-old Post-Its, all were created to ease the pain of organization.
Software tools are also essential: cut down email reading time with spam software that keeps your inbox clean. Equip your business site with Socket, so client quote requests can be handled instantly, without the time needed to respond manually to every quote request.
A Mad Men Lesson
We can learn from Mad Men character Kinsey, who spends an entire episode bemoaning the loss of a fantastic advertising idea he brainstormed overnight, and promptly forgot the next morning.
“The palest ink is better than the best memory,” he mutters over and over, citing a Chinese proverb.
Basically, don’t depend on your brain to catalogue and maintain an effective schedule for all your dealings online. Record them in calendar form, noting meetings and project deadlines. Compelled to record your “chunked” daily schedule? Writing it down will keep your brain uncluttered and your priorities visual.
“I’m On a Cleanse”
Clutter in your brain and on your desk slows down your day and blocks you from accomplishing a roster of tasks. If getting your hands on an old letter from a client takes more than a few seconds, it’s taking up too much time in your workday.
Cleanse your work and head space to keep things efficient. For instance, if you work from home, structure a space specific to the business. A desk with folders and a white board, tucked in the corner of your home, will help designate the “work” environment from the “home”.
This might mean putting on “work” clothes to sit at your desk. That’s right. Pajamas could be your time management fatal downfall.
Maintain digital folders that categorize clients, business associates, projects, and archived material. Use Socket to manage client quote requests with efficiency and organization.
De-clutter your brain by eliminating the little distractions, like responding and reading emails throughout the day, or checking your Twitter feed every ten minutes. Reserve the first and last hours of your workday for email correspondence, and plot out a chunk of time for social media cravings.
Cleanse your brain further by dumping deadlines and schedules onto paper (as noted in A Mad Men Lesson).
Multitasking (Question Mark?)
Attempting to eat, chat with your mother on your iPhone, and remove a sweater (while driving), is idiotic and hazardous, right? So why apply the same philosophy to your online business?
Multitasking just won’t work for effective time management. “It usually does more harm than good,” says Smashing Magazine writer Cameron Chapman, suggesting we “work on one project [or task] at a time,” within set times (back to “chunking”).
Tempting thought it may be to have an episode of Breaking Bad running in the background while you complete customer orders or update your site’s content, the scattered focus will be revealed in the work produced. Leave multitasking in the 1990’s.
Chapman says, “If you don’t have any goals, how to you know what’s important? What deserves your time and attention? The short answer is: you don’t.”
The goals don’t have to be formal or long term. They just have to drive you to complete tasks. The reward of completion can be accomplished daily with manageable goals that are focused on a week-to-week basis
Without goals, your online business will be as scattered as your once-cluttered workspace.
Remember to include lifestyle goals on the plate too, like tackling a half-marathon, or saving for a vacation, to balance out the work-life routine and practice goal-setting habits.
We want to see our businesses succeed online, and must utilize the tools available to make time management possible. Socket software provides the ultimate solution to the time-consuming task of responding to client quote requests online, freeing up space for improving your business and enjoying its growth.
Time management is a conquerable art in effective business online, and Socket can help you gain the victory. Let’s get started today.
Chapman, Cameron. “How To Find Time For…Everything!” Smashing Magazine. 16 September 2009. http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/16/how-to-find-time-for-everything/
Foster, Dawn. “How I Work in Chunks.” Gigaom. 5 September 2009. http://gigaom.com/collaboration/how-i-work-in-chunks/