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A 60-Second Guide to Making the Most of Your Business Day

Your responsibilities multiply when you’re running your own business. Unfortunately, the time available to handle them does not. Entrepreneurs must be effective multitaskers to find the happy medium between being overwhelmed and constantly at odds with deadlines.

In just 60 seconds, the experts at SCORE will show you how to better organize your day and make the most of the time you spend at—and away from—your business.

0:60 De-fragment Your Day
Each day, write down everything that happens: what you do, incoming and outgoing phone calls, interruptions, meetings and breaks. Watch for patterns—when customers usually call, when you get the most done, regular meeting and production schedules and so on.  With this information, you can arrange your more flexible activities around those that simply must take place at a certain time.

0:42 Minimize the Conflicts
If you’re observant, you’ll also discover periods when interruptions are rare (e.g., early morning). These are ideal times to take care of routine tasks, catch up on business reading and correspondence and plan work schedules. Also consider setting aside a time each day or week for your marketing activities as long as those hours conform to your customers’ schedules.

0:39 And Speaking of Your Customers
Even if you’re a “night owl” who is most productive before the sun comes up, remember that “normal” business hours are still the rule for the majority of the working world. Organize your schedule to ensure your availability when your customers are most likely to need you, particularly if they are located in other time zones.

0:27 Structure Your Future
Toward the end of each week, think about what assignments and deadlines require attention within the next five to seven days. By writing them down you can set priorities and allot appropriate amounts of time to meet immediate and long-term deadlines.

0:16 Expect the Unexpected
A fine-tuned schedule can fall apart for any number of reasons—a new client opportunity, a problem with an existing project, sickness, even the weather. Don’t fall apart with it. If you’ve planned carefully, you know what things can and cannot wait. Always keep your cell phone charged and your calendar or PDA handy so you can rearrange your schedule on the run if necessary.

0:08 Take Time Out
Don’t feel that you have to schedule each and every minute of your workday. Breaks between appointments or tasks are ideal opportunities for a stretch or quick walk, personal phone calls or just some pleasant daydreaming. When it’s time to tackle that next task, you’ll be refreshed and better able to devote your full attention to the task at hand.

Copyright 2006 AllBusiness.com. Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved.
Content from SCORE (www.score.org) “Counselors to America’s Small Business.”

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