10 Tips for Time Management in Direct Sales
It seems there are usually more things to do then there are hours in the day. With busy schedules and busier lives important things often get forgotten or pushed aside until it’s too late to do them. Time management is essential in all areas of life, especially if you’re running a direct sales business from your home. The ten steps below are geared to direct sales consultants but can be carried over to other careers or parts of life as well.
When you choose tasks that need to be accomplished it’s important to set priorities. The most important tasks have a greater priority over less important tasks. Set certain a amount of time for each task. To start out with, you need to determine what needs to be accomplished. So get out your PDA or pen and paper and let’s begin.
1. The first step is to set your priorities for the day. What are the important things you need to accomplish for the day, what can be accomplished the day after, etc.? Create a list of things that must be completed that day. The top of the list will have the most important tasks; the bottom of the list will have tasks that can be accomplished within a day or two. After you have created your list jot down how much time each task will require.
2. Prepare for the next day the night before. It’s a good idea to create your to-do list the night before so when you get up early you can focus on the tasks that need to be accomplished that day. Alternatively, you can get up an hour or so early to do this, but typically the night before works best.
3. Next, set the operating hours for your business. This means determining what hours you’ll answer emails, contact potential clients, contact your sales force, advertise and update your website, etc.
4. Take notes. Throughout the day take notes of what needs to be accomplished whether in your PDA, or on paper. When you create a list of tasks to accomplish for the next day, it will be easier with your list in hand.
5. Take the time to set up an automatic email system using Constant Contact or Outlook. An automated system will save valuable hours every day. Set autoresponders to send automatic emails of sales and specials to your contact list, receive orders, and set up shipping. Setting up autoresponders once means less time spent on these tasks later on.
6. Get and stay organized. you’ve heard there’s a place for everything and everything in its place. Make that your mantra! It’s important to be able to find what you need when you need it. Organize your office so it’s easy and efficient to find whatever you need. Losing valuable hours searching for business documents, invoices, bills or anything else will cost you valuable time and money.
7. Outsource. If you need help, hire someone to do some of your necessary tasks such as website maintenance, or mailings. It can mean hiring someone privately, using family labor, or working with another business that provides those services.
8. Delegate. It’s important delegate tasks to others in your sales force to help your team be successful. Learn what you can delegate, then let the tasks go and trust your team to accomplish them. If you find you can’t trust someone to do the job you’ve delegated to them, it’s time to consider replacing them with someone you can trust.
9. Set reminders for important dates for your business. This include sales and specials you plan to run, customer birthdays and anniversaries, and the last time a customer ordered from you.
10. Create and use thank you notes. At the end of the day create a list of thank you notes you plan to send to your customers the next day. Then, take a few minutes to fill them out and drop them in the mail the next morning. It’s an important follow-up that your customers will appreciate.
With these easy-to-manage time management tactics, you’re well on your way to becoming more time efficient in your direct sales business operations. Automating a few areas of your business early on will help considerably in the long run.
Effective Time Management for Frugal Moms
Frugal moms often struggle with a long list of tasks that need to be accomplished every day. These can range from preparing meals to bathing the kids, and from working an at-home business to cooking three meals every day.
A frugal lifestyle requires organization to work. And time management is simply organizing yourself. But going from knowing to doing in organizing your day requires some planning. Here are some ideas to help you get on track and stay there so your frugal lifestyle isn’t “derailed” by lack of planning and disorganization!
Lists are your friends. Learn to make them, trust them and most importantly – follow them! Use one notebook for all your lists instead of jotting things down on odd bits of paper or self-adhesive notes that are easily lost.
Get a planner in a size that works for you and use it. Choose from pocket size, 3″ x 6″ (this one doesn’t allow much room to write but fits easily in your purse), standard size 6″ x 9″ (which is the most common), or a large desk-size 8.5″ x 11″ (which allows the most room for writing but isn’t as portable). The idea is to get a planner you will really use.
Your planner doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. But it’s important to have something that will work to help you manage your calendar, keep your to-do list and other important information in one place. There are even free printable planners online. Search Google and you’ll come up with several options. Or create your own by hand or on the computer.
If you choose to go with the larger size, you can easily design your own forms in Microsoft Word or another word processing program and print pages at will. Then you simply three-hole punch the pages and place them in a one-inch binder. You can use index tab sheets to divide your binder into as many sections as you need.
Create a section for Daily To-Do, Weekly To-Do, Monthly To-Do, Goals, etc.
A Master To-Do list of everything you want to do in the coming week is also helpful. This can be used to prioritize your daily lists and help you see at a glance how well you’re progressing. Taking the time to write down what you want to accomplish will help you manage every day more easily.
While a master list may seem like extra work, it won’t take only a few minutes to complete and it will make a huge difference in keeping you focused on everything you want to accomplish. Without it, it’s easy to get distracted by all those separate to-dos.
Create a new list of to-dos first thing every morning. Carryover anything that you didn’t accomplish the day before and add what will need to be done today.
Combine similar tasks such as household management, computer tasks, telephone calls, email, places to go, etc. That way you can batch similar jobs and accomplish more in the least amount of time.
Prioritize each task. Ask yourself what has to be done that day and give it a 1. Then consider what you’d really like to finish that day and give it a 2. Everything else gets a 3. That includes things you want to do, or even that you enjoy doing, but that–if they don’t get done–won’t create any real problems.
Remove distractions before you begin working on a task. If it’s a computer task, close programs and browser pages that you don’t specifically need to complete the project you’re on. If it’s a telephone task, close the door so the room is quiet and you can focus on what you need to say.
Do what’s important, not urgent. Do what you must do during the day and save the “want tos” for spare time. Email is a prime example of something that appears to be urgent and yet seldom is. There is nothing that says you have to reply to a message as soon as it’s received. Learn to recognize what really needs to be done and when.
If a specific task will help you manage your home better, earn money to pay the bills, or provide something your family really needs, that’s important. Noting these type tasks will help you plan long and short term goals and help you decide what needs to be accomplished during the day.
While multi-tasking seems admirable, research has begun to show that it actually hinders you from doing your best work. Instead, focus on one task at a time until you complete it. You’ll accomplish a lot more throughout the day.
Mark off every task you complete, then go back to your list to see what’s next on the agenda. Add tasks as they come up such as when you need to make a follow-up phone call to a call you made earlier, or when you need to send a letter in response to a discussion you had that day. Keep your list current and you can more easily stay on top of all you have to do.
Don’t be afraid to change priorities during the day if needed. Something may come up that becomes more important than other items on your list. Shift your priorities to make room for the change and don’t let this cause you undue stress.
Life is full of change, so things will happen that force you to adjust your priorities. But the goal is to manage your life, not your lists. Your planner, to-do lists, written goals, and other time management tools are just that… tools to help you accomplish what you need to.
Learn to say no. While it’s easy to fall into a “super woman syndrome” and think you can do everything, that’s simply not true. Learn to set limits for yourself and your children.
An administrative assistant had a sign on her desk that read, “Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Let that saying become your motto. Do only what you truly feel you can do, and kindly refuse to allow others to create your priorities.
Keep your goals and your lists achievable. If you find you’re consistently listing so many tasks that you never seem to accomplish them all, it’s time to lighten the load–and the list. Ask yourself what would be the worst thing that can happen if something doesn’t get done.
Typically, you’ll be able to honestly say that the roof won’t fall in. Unless it might, cut yourself some slack and realize that you may not be accomplishing everything you’d like to do, but by managing your time creatively you can accomplish so much more than you imagined!
Save yourself Time when you organize
Organizing yourself can be very difficult to do if you are unsure of the process. It can also be a challenge at the beginning. When you organize your time you likely remember appointments that you have and you will be able to get more accomplished in a day.
The first thing you need to do is decide how you will organize your time. You can use an online calendar such as Yahoo or Google or you can use a book calendar such as a day planner. You will need to decide which way works best for you. If you use an online calendar you may be able to link it to your PDA or check it via your cell phone, if you have that capability.
Once you decide which method you will use, you need to start adding your appointments and commitments. The beginning stages of organize can be time consuming, but well worth it in the long run.
As time goes on and you add appointments, you will need to remember to add them to your calendar. If you use an online calendar, you will need to ask for a reminder card or you will need a notepad to write them on until you get home and you can add them.
You will need to remember to look at your calendar periodically throughout the day so you don’t miss something you have scheduled. If you use an online calendar such as Yahoo, you can include your cell phone number and set it up to send you an email and a text message at a certain time to remind you of your appointment. This is a great feature and should be used if it’s available. That way whether you are on the computer or in the car you will receive a reminder of your appointment.
Adding a to-do list to your calendar will help you keep track of what you need to do each day as well. Depending on the type of calendar you use, you might have a place for notes or you might have to include it somewhere on that day. To-do lists will help you manage your time that may not be scheduled. Laundry, articles, blog posts, and ezine creations are just a few of the tasks that you can add to your to-do list.
You need to calendar things like meetings, doctor appointments, calls that need to be made, and project deadlines. You should also calendar blog post times, article writing times, and family time. Look at everything you do in a day and calendar the things that are difficult for you to get done or ones that you put off. You should also calendar time each day to write down your to-do list and weekly to set your goals.
Organizing your time will help you get more accomplished in a day. It will also help you feel less stress because you won’t forget something you need to do. When you calendar every day you will feel organized and you will know exactly what you need to do each and every day. Organizing your time is important and a need for anyone, whether you own a business or not.