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  • How To Develop Work Routines And Schedules

    Can anyone recommend any resources to help entrepreneurs and small business owners develop work routines and schedules? A few people have recommended reading "Time Management from the Inside Out" which is on my shopping list. Any other recommendations?

    How about a more flexible approach such as setting goals or targets for the week and planning each day keeping these in mind (as an alternative to having a set schedule)... anyone teach that?

    I'm still getting my feet wet with this running your own biz thing so I appreciate any advice I get!

    Thanks!

    P.S. Does David advocate using the hard landscape to block time out to work on specific projects? If so, where? I don't remember reading this suggestion in GTD.

  • #2
    GTD helps you keep your head above water when you have a million things coming at you. If you aren't in that type of environment, you have to set goals and then GTD helps you actually reach those goals (the latter seems to be what Covey and others don't quit get, IMO).

    Personally, I like having a minimal schedule as GTD recommends. I do separate my next action lists into things I can do quickly and things I need to set a block of time aside for though I don't necessarily schedule that block of time since for me it is not necessary. I have chunks of uninterrupted time come up daily without my having to plan them.

    I really recommend Time Management from the Inside Out because it helps you figure out what works for you. 9 to 5 isn't for everybody. If you can figure out your rhythms of the day as well as the rhythms of your business and schedule accordingly, you can maximize your effectiveness. But that takes an extra investment of time and effort to set up - certainly worth it but not instantaneously easy. It's taken me a while to really learn my rhythms and make the most of them, but I certainly am getting a lot more done than I used to.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by invincible
      How about a more flexible approach such as setting goals or targets for the week and planning each day keeping these in mind (as an alternative to having a set schedule)... anyone teach that?
      Morgenstern's main point is that everyone already has a natural schedule. Your life has certain rhythms, certain times when you are more or less productive. Other people you deal with have rhythms, too, whether it is a child's school schedule, a client's work day, or whatever, and these affect your schedule. Her book (Time Management from the Inside Out) tries to help you figure out what your natural schedule is, so that you can plan your day around it instead of trying to fight it.

      Her approach works equally well for people with very open schedules and very externally-constrained schedules, and the book includes examples at both extremes. Highly recommended.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        Originally posted by invincible
        Does David advocate using the hard landscape to block time out to work on specific projects? If so, where? I don't remember reading this suggestion in GTD.
        He certainly mentions it, I think in the now-unavailable GTD Fast Tapes. GTD makes the point that once you capture everything you have to do, your priorities, urgencies, and personal rhythms interact in a complicated way to determine how you tackle your work. Some people need to block out time, some prefer to, some would if they could, and some don't want to. If you do schedule a "meeting with yourself", you treat it like any other commitment: keep it, break it, or renegotiate it.

        Personally, I found Morgenstern's books rather rigid and unworkable, but you may find them helpful. There are some other books with collections of time management tips and tricks which you might find useful, but not every tip works for everybody. Perhaps you should look for books that directly address the particular issues that small businesses and their owners face.

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        • #5
          Organize Your Office--Simple routines for managing your workspace, by Ronni Eisenberg, has lots of suggestions.

          You might get some ideas from Martin Ternouth's method--the detailed description is about 20% of the way down this page:

          http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-...08c&topic_id=1

          I used to avoid Outlook because it seemed so complex and didn't seem to justify the learning curve. But finally I got desperate and got the pdf they sell here at the David Allen site. It was great--helped me learn what I needed to manage my tasks and reminders, and I don't worry about the other bells and whistles, because David Allen has said I don't need to! It relieved the stress. And I'm slowly learning a bit more and customizing it a little.

          Checklists have helped me a lot--Eisenberg discusses them a little, and I've developed some for my own work.

          Don't get behind on your bookkeeping. You can use just a checkbook, the paper workbooks they sell at office supply stores, or Quicken Home and Business, or QuickBooks (I work with QuickBooks all the time, don't deal with the Microsoft products, but they're out there too.). I'd start out with the checkbook, separate business account. Start with the simplest approach and stay with that until you're forced to go to Quicken or QuickBooks. You could probably stay with Quicken Home and Business for years--I've seen people with pretty active businesses, employees, receivables and payables, run their businesses with just Quicken. When you start using QuickBooks you'll have to spend more time with the bookkeeping, you'll be distracted from your business, and it will be a drain on you. It can be really helpful, but make sure you really need it before you get it. I get my clients from the QuickBooks program, and they've already purchased the software and want to use it, but many times if I could have sat down with them before they bought it, we could have worked out a simpler, less expensive system for them, especially if no inventory is involved.

          And most of all, see a CPA before you start doing payroll. If you're a sole proprietor or a partner, you can't pay yourself payroll and withhold payroll taxes. It can cause you a lot of problems if you do it. Going back and correcting mistakes is not just as expensive as it would have been to do it right from the beginning--it's at least four or five times as expensive, when you add in the penalties and interest you'll pay the IRS and other tax agencies.

          Good luck with your business.

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          • #6
            Thanks to everyone for your replies. Much appreciated as always!

            I think the key for me, since I have pretty much no structure to my week, is to block out time for the significant projects which actually generate revenue and be sure they get sufficient attention so that my business grows. It's so easy to let the whole day fly by when you're not paying attention! Also, having lists to work off for that particular project, aside from the general action lists, is crucial for me. I'm not sure whether this would be actual context lists, or project steps to take.

            I have also recieved a copy of Morgenstern's book and will be reviewing it shortly.

            Thanks again!

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            • #7
              Another book that might help is The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It

              Also, here’s a neat tip I found

              ...
              I often have a theme for a given day, where I choose an approach that’s suited to my mood, my energy level, and the kind and amount of work on my TODO list.
              ...
              approaches include:

              1. alternate projects
              2. big chunks of time on certain projects
              3. complete as many small items as possible
              4. oldest first
              5. newest first
              6. squeaky wheel
              7. goal driven

              Source & More Info:
              http://www.43folders.com/2005/04/25/...d-action-plan/

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              • #8
                I have a small business too and I use Wrike to manage it. I'm a huge GTD fan, like most of us here and I started to use Wrike for organizing my personal life at first. Then I realized that the application gives me more than just a to-do list. Now I run all of the departments in my small company in Wrike. And it really works! My staff say that they like it, cause it's easy to use. I feel that they became more productive. I recommend you check this tool out. It might be a good solution for you too.

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