By Sean M. Lyden
Many of us live in a state of perpetual anxiety--we have much to do but little time in which to do it. Even a vacation becomes a grueling experience as our minds churn over what needs to be done at the office.
How can small-business owners break free from the tyranny of anxiety to accomplish more without all the stress? The answer lies in effective time management.
"One of the biggest time wasters," says J. David Harper, Jr., a financial representative with The Principal Financial Group in Atlanta, "is to overestimate the amount of time that you do have." The result: a lot of bustling activity, but little to show for it. "A lot of people are in the office for long periods of time, but they are ineffective because they're not focused on their objectives. They're spending hours upon hours but not really getting anything done."
Here are seven tips to help you take control of your schedule:
1. Diffuse. As you plan your week, forecast any problems that might arise. Then devise a plan of action to deal with those situations before they blow up into major, time-consuming crises.
2. Focus. Ask yourself what things you absolutely have to get done for the day. Focus your time on those objectives. You will feel empowered as you accomplish your essential tasks.
3. Clean up. Schedule time to take care of lesser priorities--perhaps on a Friday when you have significant amounts of downtime. Or choose to work late one evening each week. Also consider delegating activities to staff or family members.
4. Consolidate. Plan ahead to accomplish your errands in a single trip. Group related activities together.
5. Assert. Make time. Realize that you control when and how you accomplish your objectives. Don't let other people's expectations steer you off course.
6. Rescript. Worry and frustration waste time. Say "No!" to anxiety, and "rescript" your worries into proactive, positive, business- and life-enriching thoughts.
7. Rest. When you feel frustrated, irritable and worn down, take a break. You'll accomplish more when you're fresh and focused on your task.
For more information on products and books to help you take control of your time, contact Franklin Covey Co., founded by Hyrum W. Smith, author of The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management (Warner Books, $12.99, 800-654-1776) by visiting its Web site at http://www.franklincovey.com
Midland Insurance Group, 131 Sixth St. N., Winstead, MN 55395, (800) 786-7208
The Principal Financial Group, 1 Ravinia Dr., #1700, Atlanta, GA 30346, (770) 393-1555, ext. 120