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Effective Time Management I

We all have the same number of hours in the day but some people seem to accomplish much more than others in those hours. How do they do it? An effective time management plan is critical for the successful small business owner including the personal chef.

Time management is a popular buzz word these days. There is much discussion whether it is more effective to plan the day electronically or on paper. Regardless if you choose to use a blackberry, a pencil and pad of paper or anything in between, the same principles hold true. Following is the first of a two part article with some steps for you to follow.

Planning is the critical first step. You must assess the tasks that need to be accomplished, the amount of time required and the sequence of events that makes the most sense.

Make a list. The chance of getting things done is greatly reduced if there is no written list. A simple ‘to do’ list will help keep you on track. I carry a spiral notebook with me everywhere to keep my ‘to do’ list close at hand.

Set priorities. It is important to establish the order in which tasks must be accomplished. It is very tempting to run through the easy items on the ‘to do’ list and never complete the critical items.

Use time blocks. Try to allow yourself the time needed to accomplish a task in one uninterrupted block of time. This will make your much more productive because it saves you time needed to review where you left off and get geared back up again.

Minimize interruptions. It is okay to let the answering machine pick up your phone calls if you are working on an important task. Consider returning all calls in one block of time in the late morning and/or late afternoon. The same holds true for e-mail. Rarely is there a critical need to constantly monitor incoming e-mail. It is much more efficient to designate a block of time to check and respond to messages.

Say ‘no’ sometimes. Practice assertiveness. (I really need to work on this one myself!) There are lots of requests made on your time. Get in the habit of asking yourself if this is the best use of your time and if there is someone else who could handle this task, freeing you to tackle something more productive.

More great ideas will follow in Part II of Effective Time Management

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