By Harold Taylor
Develop a mission statement.
A mission statement will give direction to your business and personal life. It will keep you focused on your reason for being in business and keep you from getting sidetracked by all the opportunities that are unrelated to your chosen profession. You can be good at a lot of things, but greatness requires focus. My advice is to choose an area of specialty, write a mission or vision statement, and set long-range and annual goals that are compatible with that mission.
Record your mission statement in the front of your planner where you will see it every time you open your planner to record an appointment or activity. You might even put it on the front cover. It should be short and simple, such as “To help others succeed in business through better time management skills.”
Limit your goals to five or six per year at any one time. This forces you to focus on the valuable few rather than jumping from one goal to another based on the whims of the moment. Too many goals are distracting. You can always add new ones to the list as the others are completed. Write them in the front of your planner or in a special category of your To Do List on your Blackberry or other PDA. They should be portable, so don’t limit them to a list on your desktop planner unless you spend your life in front of the computer. Assign deadline dates. One goal might be “To complete a book on Procrastination by July 30th.” Another might be “To have a fully operational website by October 15th.” Make sure these deadlines are realistic. Work backwards. If you want to complete a task by the end of the year, and it takes an estimated 100 hours to complete it, how many hours each week would you have to schedule in your planner in order to meet that deadline? If the answer is 10 hours, based on your current level of activity that might be unrealistic. So change the deadline date. Once you have a workable plan, be sure to block off appointments with yourself to actually do the work.
The goals that you write should all help to further your mission. In the example above, developing a time management workshop by April 30th would help; but purchasing a cabin cruiser by June 15th would not. However if your mission were to live in luxury for the rest of your life, the goal would be compatible.
Develop personal time policies
Personal time policies are guidelines that will help you make tough decisions regarding the budgeting of your time. Business policies are used in organizations to help employees make decisions on their own. Examples of business policies might be the customer is always right or we will not be undersold. Similarly, from a personal standpoint, it helps to have a set of personal time policies or value statements. These policies may be different for different individuals and may include statements such as:
- I will not compromise my beliefs, values or personal mission.
- I will not become an activity packrat; for every new activity I take on, one of equal time-value must be subtracted.
- I will have as much respect for my own time as I have for other peoples' time.
- Decisions or choices affecting my family will be discussed in advance with my family.
- I will not be coerced into changing my priorities; they will be changed only if my heart is in it.
Policies such as these simply serve as guidelines when making decisions that affect your use of time. Personal time policies also help you to maintain balance in your life. You must also schedule personal and family activities into your planner as well.
Time planning for entrepreneurs involves a thoughtful consideration of why your company exists, what it is you want to accomplish through it, and how you plan to get there. Then any time efficiencies you practice will not be in vain.
George Torok Host of Business in Motion Business Speaker
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