Business Strategies: How To Take Inventory Of Your Time

Not sure where the day goes at your home office? Here are some tips to plan and manage your time.

One disadvantage to working at home is that we sometimes blend work and household activities. Developing a proposal for a local contractor, we may get up to start dinner or feed the baby. Then it's back to work for a while, only to be interrupted again by a telephone call from a talkative friend. Before you know it, the day is gone and it's time to help the kids with homework and get dinner started.

If you are dismayed to see that your work time is not reaping the benefits you had hoped, here are a few tips that can help you manage your work schedule more efficiently by tracking the projects your work, the related tasks that need to be done, and personal work that might eat up a few minutes during the day:

1. Keep a daily log by hand or on the computer. Use a software program to create a daily schedule with half-hour or hour-long blocks of time. Fill these in with project names or work-related tasks that you perform. Do this as you complete one task and before doing another, so you don't forget. For example, here's what a day's work at home might look like:

8:30-9:00 Telephoned five clients for possible new business (Got 1 appointment, 2 brochure requests, 1 busy signal, and 1 voice mail""see names in contact log).

9:00-11:00 Drafted Mr. Williams' council speech (about double-spaced eight pages). Took 10-minute call from my sister and roughed out family holiday plans.

11:00-noon Mailed two brochures; made two more calls with negative responses.



noon-1:00 Lunch break

1:00-2:30 Talked by phone with Katie Samuels about drafting a mission statement for her company. Drafted the statement. Called her back with a question. Revised the statement. Sent it by email for her review.

2:30-3:30 Shopped for home office supplies like printer cartridge, copy paper, and pens. (Got a few groceries too.)

3:30-4:00 Picked up kids from school; started supper.

4:00-5:00 Wrote a preliminary draft of the Com-tech quarterly report (five pages)

5:00 Stopped for the day. Will begin at 8 a.m. tomorrow. Will complete Com-tech and contact Katie about the statement.

Even though some personal tasks were included during the day in this sample, you get a pretty good idea of how the time was spent. Furthermore, you will be able to inventory various projects for billing purposes when the time comes after their completion. This way, you won't shortchange yourself or overcharge the company for your time.

If you are not a detail-oriented person, you can simply take a few notes during the week, then compile a weekly list of project work, along with brief status reports for each. At a glance, you will know what you've accomplished so far and what remains to be done.

Time is our most precious commodity. Don't take yours for granted or let it slip away from you. Guard it by tracking all the work you do in a given day or week, and you will feel better in seeing tangible results.

© High Speed Ventures 2011