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Every minute counts

Every minute counts

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Guest blog from Emma Jones, Founder of Enterprise Nation and author of ‘Spare Room Start Up - how to start a business from home'.

When walking down the street the other day, I overheard someone say "I'm just killing time" to a friend. It's an expression I haven't heard in a while and that's because many of us are trying to expand hours in the day, rather than loose them. Here are some tips on how you can make the most of your day.

A whole extra day

Homeworkers are fortunate. We earn, on average, one whole extra day each week, by cutting out the daily commute. We're also more productive. Research reported in the Mail on Sunday in 2008 said the average employee does just four hours of productive work a day. The research claimed the rest of the working day (outside the 4 hours) is spent on:

"Fielding unnecessary phone calls and emails, or wasting time by surfing the Internet and gossiping."

As home business owners, we don't have the water cooler chat so we can get more done but here are some tips to get you and time in full flow:

  • Tidy your desk as you finish for the day/night so you have a fresh start in the morning
  • Write a ‘to do' list the night before (and try to include time slots eg 7-9am: site content, 9-11am: new client proposal etc - this doesn't always go to plan but it does put some structure in the day) - having a ‘Things to do' book helps with this task and it's a great feeling to tick off the items you've achieved
  • Do the things that require most concentration first thing in the morning. That way, you're less likely to be interrupted by calls and emails
  • Speaking of which, emails and calls can be a great distraction! When you need clear concentration, switch out of the inbox and, once the project's done, download and reply to the mail that's come in. You can also ‘switch off' the phone by leaving the answer machine on or diverting it to a call-handling service, if you have one.
  • Outsource tasks that take up lots of your time but earn little return. This frees up your time to spend on activities that deliver income and happy clients.   
  • Make the most of project management tools such as Basecamp. Why does this save you time? Because you can keep clients updated on what's happening on their projects which means less travel to and from meetings. 

As our technology editor, San Sharma, once wrote: ‘The tools we use enable us to manipulate time. The web, email, instant messaging offer information and communication on our own terms. The news when we want, messages as they come, responses in our own time...'

He's right. We can manipulate time. Just please don't kill it!

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