14 Steps to Managing Your Time

14 Steps to Manage Your Time
All of us have 168 hours a week. Of course, with some of that time we need to eat and sleep and take care of other personal business. In this article I would like to look at 14 steps to managing your time for your business.
 
Diary Planning
 
A diary either on paper or electronic can help you to effectively manage your time. Your diary can be much more than a way to record your appointments. I personally like to use a Google Calendar. This allows me to use the calendar to also add tasks (or to do list) and set reminders. The reminders and tasks then appear on the calendar. You are then able to check them off when completed.
This allows you to add phone calls and other tasks that you have to complete which may or may not be time specific. There will be things that you need to do and in your diary I suggest that you block out time for the these and set a reminder so that you will be notified when you have to do them. (See also Concentrate on one task).
Your diary can be one of the best ways that you can plan and with Google Calendar having a task system will help you and be your To Do List (please read the section To Do List to see how you can make this system work for you)
 
To Do List
 
A to do list is vital if you are going to manage your time wisely. I find that during the day as things arise that can’t be dealt with straight away I add them to my to do list. At the end of the day review your list and then prioritise the next day’s task.
A top tip that worked well for me is to take the task that you dislike the most and do that at the beginning of the day. If you don’t, you will keep looking at it and sub-consciously it will affect what you do. It’s quite likely that you will slow down in order not to get to the task, waste time on non-essential things and feel a little miserable in the process. Therefore number your tasks in order of importance with the least liked at or very near to the top if there really is something else that has to be done first.
Any tasks that are not important today can be rolled over but look closely now to see if they will become a priority tomorrow when you prepare your list. If a task can only be partially completed do make sure that you keep it on your to do list for the future.
 
Email management
 
We all get hundreds of emails and managing them can be a problem. Please don’t allow email to take over your life. It’s best to have several email addresses. Have a private one which you never use for business and only check this once a day outside of business time. Other email addresses can be such as Sales@; Info: Enquiries@ Newsletters@  and use this to subscribe to newsletters or other things which are not going to be important. Make sure that if you no longer read newsletters use the unsubscribe button.
I recommend that you use Gmail to manage your email accounts. Gmail has a very good spam filter and frees you up from much of the pure junk that is emailed. You can also segment your email into sections to make managing email much simpler and save time. Urgent emails can then be seen more easily. Many people set aside specific times of the day to check their email rather than react to each one as it comes arrives in your inbox. Turn off your email notifications so that you are not disturbed or tempted to see each email as it arrives.
 
Delegate
 
Whenever you can, delegate tasks to others. Train and trust your staff to handle tasks that will free you up to concentrate on your core work. If don’t employ people that you could delegate to, you should look to outsource to those that can assist you.
 
Learn to say “No”
 
There are many demands on our time and even the most caring and generous of us will have to learn to know when to say “no”. Of course you also need to know how to say no in a way that will not cause any undue upset or offence.
 
Get enough sleep
 
There are those people that think sleeping is a waste of time! The truth is we need a reasonable amount of sleep. Sleep deprivation will actually slow you down and reduce your productivity and creativity and you will achieve less in more time if you are tired. You want to achieve more in less time!
 
Concentrate on one task
 
Despite what is often said about multi-tasking you can really only concentrate on one task at a time. That’s why it’s stupid to text and drive (and use other phone functions). Set aside time to concentrate on one task at a time and you will complete it quicker and more accurately and produce better results.
 
Avoid distractions
 
If you can, stop the things that can interrupt and are not essential. If you’re working on a computer those pop up messages for email, Twitter and Facebook are a menace. Turn them off because the action of looking at them will focus your mind on their message and probably cause you to click on them to see more. Some people like to work with background noise such as a radio on. However again this can cause you to focus on things being said rather than your work.
 
Schedule time to a complete a task
 
You are more likely to get something done and on time if you set aside a set time to do it. Use your diary to do this.
 
Assign break time
 
Your brain and body need a rest! Allow break times so that you can be refreshed. The practice of working at a desk and eating might seem efficient but ultimately it is bad for you health. Get up, take some exercise and fresh air. You will be more relaxed and have more energy to work.
 
Keep it simple
 
With most things there is a simple way and a complicated one. Don’t over complicate your life.
 
Use management systems that work for you 
 
There are many systems that you can use. It is easy to end up becoming a slave to the system rather than it being a tool for your business. Ask yourself, “What do I actually need to record?” Collating loads of data just because a system asks you too can be a serious waste of time.
 
Work mobile when you can
 
If you’re travelling by train or sat in a waiting area can you use that time to make phone calls, write email, or some other task that can be done away from your office? Plan to use those moments productively but not whilst you are driving! Get a chauffeur if you want to work in the car.
 
Enjoy what you do
 
If you hate what you do then you will find it incredibly difficult to manage your time beneficially. Change your career as soon as you can or learn to love your job. Strangely enough many people that hate their jobs have a job that is OK and it’s their viewpoint that needs changing. Have a good think about the positive aspects to your work and write them down. Do they outweigh the negatives? You will be surprised how a change of viewpoint and appreciation for what you have can make your work so much better.
 
I hope that you have found these 14 tips for managing your time helpful. I would like to invite your comments and experiences in time management so please use the box below to leave a comment.




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16 Ways to Increase Profit

16 ways to increase profit

Every business needs to make a profit. The profit is often described as the bottom line and really it is. Making a profit is the reason a business exists for without making a profit it will ultimately fail.

In this post, I would like to answer the question: How can you increase profit in a business?

Here are 16 ways to increase profit. They are in alphabetical order and each one should be looked at in the context of your business.

Bad debts

Late payers and non-payers cannot only reduce profits but can fatally wound a business. There are steps that you can take to reduce bad debts.

Firstly avoid giving credit or pay later options if you can. If your business needs to offer credit, look to do so through a third party who will take the risk of non-payment and debt recovery. It is important to make sure that your terms and conditions are very clear on when payment should be made and be very quick to chase debtors as soon as a payment is late. Telephone calls work better than emails and letters. Sending reminders before the payment is due can help to reduce the number of late payments. Make it easy for people to pay by having several methods, especially using online with 24-hour availability.

Buy in cost

If you manufacture goods or retail other’s products try and reduce those costs by careful buying and keep checking your sources to make sure that you are getting the best value. Keep in mind though the point under the heading ‘reliable suppliers’.

Cash discounts

It may be that you purchase goods on a 30-day payment. Can you get those goods cheaper if you pay up front or earlier? A cash discount will contribute to an increased profit.

Cross sell

When customers buy from you as well as upsell (see below) can you cross-sell? This is not just about getting more money from your customers but should also provide them with a valuable service. By adding another product you can enhance what they have bought. For example, if they have just purchased a nice shiny new laptop it would be good to protect it in an appropriate case, maybe some additional software (by knowing your customer you can determine that), an extended warranty, USB sticks and so on. You may decide to offer these extra products as a set package.

Customer retention

Finding new customers can be expensive and the last thing you want to do is to lose them. Make sure that you deliver outstanding service, have what they need and keep in touch. Depending on your business you should be phoning, writing, visiting, using social media, meeting them and at the very least emailing regularly. Do everything you can to build a bond with your clients that will build customer loyalty and therefore retention. This keeps your costs down and your profits up.

Increase Price

The more you can charge for your goods or services can increase your profit margin. Of course, there is going to be a balance at which demand for your product or services falls due to the price, so it is a matter of getting the highest price before your overall profit gets lowered. I once worked for a carpet retailer who priced their products in square yards and most of the prices ended in 95p, e.g £9.95 per square yard. By simply raising this to 99p a 4p per square yard increase, a much bigger profit was achieved without losing any sales on price. 4p multiplied by tens of thousands soon adds up to a lot of money!

Office costs

Do take the time to search for the best deals on stationery, your energy, computers, and other office equipment. With the advance of technology, it can pay to buy something that is likely to be future proofed to some degree to avoid early obsolescence. Can you reduce the amount of paper and ink used? Not everything needs to be printed and scanning or online document storage use should be encouraged.

You might also be able to have more homeworkers and reduce the need for larger offices and this saving can be a substantial amount of money added to your profits.

Prevent theft

Leakage or theft is an ever growing problem. Theft can be from within your organization or shoplifters eating away at your profits. Cyber crime is also on the increase, so invest in good online security as well as physical means to prevent theft.

Production Costs

Not only should you look at the cost of raw materials but you should examine if there are any other ways that you could reduce costs. Maybe you can obtain new equipment to speed up the manufacturing process or find ways with the existing tools to do more in less time. Your workforce probably has some good ideas on how to do this.

Recycle

In your business look for ways to reuse materials. If you need notepaper why not use the reverse side of printed documents? As long as they side already used doesn’t contain personal or sensitive data there is no problem.

In the factory can you make use of off-cuts of material and use them for another product? It pays to take the time to see what you can recycle and of course you might be able to sell your unused / unwanted materials to others.

Reduce wastage

As well as recycling there are other ways to reduce wastage. Make sure that your premises are not wasting heat or electricity. Fit low energy bulbs and when you need to replace electrical equipment look for a low energy rated appliance. Make sure that computers, printers, lights and other things are turned off when they are not going to be used. Far too many companies keep computers on overnight. Sure, the stand-by mode can be convenient but is still using power.

Reliable suppliers

Your profits will take a hit if your suppliers let you down with raw materials or the supply of goods you stock. If you haven’t got it not only will you lose sales but your customers might go elsewhere and not return. Therefore it is very important to use suppliers who won’t let you down. Many manufacturers will have more than one source for components just in case there is a potential delay.

Speed

The faster you can deliver the more likely you are to increase sales! Good stock control is vital so that you don’t run out of materials or goods to sell.

Spoilage

Stock that gets damaged can become unsaleable or has to be sold at lower prices. It’s important to look after stock in your care to reduce the risk of damage both when stored and also transported.

Staff Efficiency

Your staff is often the best source of advice on how things can be done more efficiently. Do encourage them to suggest things and have a reward system for good ideas. It pays to for managers and business owners to work closely with the staff and observe areas where efficiency can be improved. On production lines, something as simple as moving parts a few centimeters closer to the operatives can over time make a big difference. The more you can make or do in the same time or less the larger the profit margin will be.

Upsell

Car manufacturers are brilliant at this. Customers will be offered leather instead of cloth seats, metallic paint rather than solid, a better audio system and much more. What can you upsell in your business and therefore increase the profit?

I hope that the ideas in these 16 ways to increase profit have been useful for you. Please feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

Image courtesy of worradmu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net




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Prominent or Significant? What’s the difference?

To be Prominent or Significant?

Many people seek prominence. This desire for prominence is spread across all areas of human activity, business, politics, entertainment, sport, family, religion, charity and more. Now certainly in something like entertainment it can be said that being prominent will draw attention to the entertainer and might get them more work. In today’s world of social media and the ability to broadcast one’s image to potentially millions, a desire for prominence has grown along with the ability to achieve it.

However, in life prominence does not mean that you are significant or important other than perhaps in your own eyes. For example in a company, some people will be very prominent but in reality, the success of the company is built on people who are unknown to most. Non-prominent individuals within companies are doing work that is vital and if they did not do it well or at all, would spell disaster for the company. These non-prominent people are indeed significant.

Prominent people can, in fact, become a distraction and even a danger to the business. A prominent person can say or do things that can suddenly plunge a company into the news for all the wrong reasons. Many readers might remember Gerald Ratner and his infamous after dinner speech that caused his downfall and seriously damaged a business’ reputation to the point of near collapse.

I am sure that you would rather be a significant person in your business and have people working for you that are significant and who make a positive difference.

The question to ask yourself is when it comes to your business is: Are you prominent or significant?




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