Time Management for the Self-Employed

Posted: May 31, 2010

5 useful time management tips to help every self-employed person become more productive, less stressed and to stop missing deadlines.

By Aparna V. Singh

As a self-employed woman, you don’t have to worry about the boss looking over your shoulder. You can work in your pyjamas, play Farmville all day and take an afternoon nap if you like. Chartered accountants, small business owners, consultants and freelance workers of all kinds and even some lawyers fall into this category of much envied workers.
UNTIL. It’s time to hand in the work and all you have is unmet deadlines, irate clients and eventually, unpaid bills. Or, you may be among the many women who have turned self-employed to meet family commitments, but find that the family is keeping you from getting any work done.
What is time management?
Time management is the art of meeting your goals in the timeframe that is appropriate, that is, in a manner which maximizes your earnings while keeping up the quality of your work. Time management for women can be especially challenging since many working women have the challenge of balancing work and family.

Here are 5 time management tips to help you get more productive.
1. TO DO Lists. To do lists are the most basic form of workday management – yet, not everyone uses them. Instead, many people tackle ‘each day as it comes’ only to find a big mess at the end of the week and stressed weekends trying to catch up. To Do lists are an essential part of time management.
A To Do list must take account which deadlines are most pressing and any scheduled business appointments or other commitments such as parent-teacher meetings. To Do lists should include overall, larger goals for the week such as ‘All background research for Client A to be completed’ as well as day-specific tasks to be done.
At the end of each day, it is important to take stock of whether all the tasks have been completed. If not, ask yourself why. Are you cramming too much into a day? Do you need to outsource some tasks?
If you don’t have the discipline to stick to a To Do list – for e.g., if you keep veering off to work on non-urgent tasks simply because a client asks for an update, then you may want to include a ‘Not to do’ list as well!
2. Delegate more. If your small business has other employees such as an admin manager or clerk, get them to help you. If they have been with your business for some time, is it time they took on more responsibility? One of the reasons many small business owners never have enough time is that they don’t delegate enough. Hiring the right employees and keeping employee involvement high is critical for small businesses.
You could also get an employee to remind you of small-but-critical tasks that often get missed, by involving them on your To Do list.

One of the reasons many small business owners never have enough time is that they don’t delegate enough.

When it comes to time management for women, children are an important factor. If you are a mother with young children, do remember that self-employment is still employment. The fees for daycare or a nanny may seem exorbitant when you are ‘around all the time’ but you are still working.
Without support, mothers working from home often find that their business doesn’t get any attention (and the constant interruption from children is frustrating). If having grandparents over to help is not an option, try to put together the money for help – you may soon find that you are able to focus better on your work, get things done faster and get to your children sooner!
3. Time Yourself. Do you spend 10 hours working on a promotional leaflet that you plan to distribute in your neighbourhood when really, it should take only 2? Sure, every piece of work can be better, but perfection comes at a cost – other tasks suffer, and in the long run, you are further and further behind your targets.
If you find yourself spending too much time on each piece of work, set yourself a deadline, and then use a desktop timer like this one to stick to it.
4. Switch off the Internet. The Internet offers you great resources and if you are working alone, it can also mitigate some of the loneliness you may feel, away from the bustle of an office. Yet, time-wasting on the Internet is also one of the biggest causes of low productivity.
We don’t suggest shutting off the Internet entirely, but if your work is mainly done on the computer, do give yourself plenty of ‘off-time.’ If you can’t resist opening a browser, switch off your modem instead. Check your email every couple of hours and your Facebook and favourite blogs and websites once a day rather than constantly.

If you can’t resist opening a browser, switch off your modem instead.Check your email every couple of hours and your Facebook and favourite blogs and websites once a day rather than constantly.

If you use an internet enabled phone, this gets harder, but at least on really busy days, place it on silent for a few hours so that you are not disturbed either by calls or by email and message alerts.
5. Evaluate if you need more than a home office. While some working women work out of home (No Commuting! No Rent!), this may not always be a good idea. If your work is constantly interrupted by an extended or joint family with high decibel levels, if your children are grown up and no longer need you at home, if you neighbours are the kind who feel free to drop in without warning – you may need to evaluate if you should ditch your home office.

Founder, Editor of Women's Web, Aparna believes in the power of ideas and conversations

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Comments

3 Comments


  1. Very helpful ideas indeed. I feel so glad that our tribe of ‘Working from home’ is increasing.

  2. Catalystsuccess -

    Aparna, great content in this post. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How productive we are is definitely dependent on how we manage this time.

  3. EXPECTING TO READ MORE ARTICLES & SOME DAY START SOMETHING OF MY OWN.

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