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Are You Managing Your Time or Is It Managing You?

It seems every year many people make a resolution to manage their time better. How about you? Funny thing is that we all have the same 24 hours in the day. Some of us just do a better job of managing ourselves. Here are five tips to help you do that this year:

1. Know what your time is worth. Your goal as a business owner is to turn your time into money, so I think you should know what your time is worth. Here’s an easy way to figure it out. What do you want to make this year from your creative arts business? For our example and easy math for me, let’s say $50,000. Let’s also say you take two weeks vacation, so that leaves 50 weeks a year that you work. Divide the $50,000 by 50 weeks and you get $1,000 a week. Divide that by five days in the week that you plan to work and that gives you $200 a day. Divide that by 5 hours a day that is productive and you get $40 an hour. Let’s double that to cover overhead. Now we have $80 an hour. You can do this with your own goal number. Next step is to ask yourself if the task at hand is worth $80 an hour. A good exercise is to track your activities and look at them in this fashion. Is driving to the post office worth $80 an hour? Is grocery shopping worth $80 an hour? Is cleaning your house worth $80 an hour? Is packing your own patterns worth $80 an hour? You may decide you need to continue doing these tasks, and that’s OK. You just need to know the value of the task.
2. Track your tasks. For the next three to five days, record your business activities. At the end of the day, go back and note whether the activity was A (administrative/technical), M (managerial) or E (entrepreneurial). Then go back and decide whether these tasks could have been deleted, delegated, systematized or automated. Remember your goal is to replace those activities that aren’t valued at your hourly rate, so that you can work on activities that are worth your hourly rate.
3. Try time blocking. This is the idea of pre-assigning blocks of your time for specific activities, and it is one concept that I suggest early on with my clients. It lets your days be more productive because you’ve shifted to an “appointment” mindset with all your activities, not just outside appointments. It also lets you control your time because you decide when activities take place. Here are just a few activities to consider time blocking: quilt intake for longarmers to one afternoon and evening a week; creative time to design your next pattern or quilt; time for bookkeeping; business development (marketing time); and time to write that book that you keep putting off.
4. Plan your day the night before and use a list. At the end of each day, review what worked and didn’t with the day and plan what you need to accomplish the next day. By doing this the night before you’ll start the next day fresh and not spend time trying to figure out what to put on your to-do list. I’ve also heard that you’ll spend less time worrying about the next day at night because it’s preplanned. And, I’ve heard that often your mind will work on those activities and you’ll come up with ideas you wouldn’t otherwise have.
5. Learn to say no. This is a biggie, as it’s so easy to say yes to every opportunity. When you are asked to do something, consider whether it will move you closer to your goals. If so, then it might be appropriate to say yes. If not, can you find other compelling reasons to say yes? If not, then don’t hesitate to say no.

Here are some time management quotes I really like:

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”                             H. Jackson Brown
“The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.”                          Michael Altshuler
“Never let yesterday use up today.”
                                 Richard H. Nelson

Please share your thoughts on how you get control of your time below.

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2 Responses to “Are You Managing Your Time or Is It Managing You?”

  1. Kim B. said:

    Morna – do you have any words of wisdom or can you expand on learning to say “No”?

    I mastered items #1-#4 during my years in Corporate America (and probably spend too much time measuring goals and analyzing metrics), but #5 is my Achilles Heel. I’m the ultimate people pleaser in all areas of my life. Out of control schedule because I can’t say “No” to anything, overcommitting and underdelivering, feeling guilty for saying “No” or underdelivering, fear that if I say “No” this year I won’t be asked again next year, etc.

    Also, I’ve returned to my trusted paper “Day Timer” in 2012! I’ve made a very earnest attempt to move to an electronic calendar/contact dbase that syncs between my computer and phone over the past two years and can’t make it work for me. I gifted myself a nice leather binder and spent a good part of my holiday break filling up my calendar, setting goals, and transferring contacts. It feels good!

  2. Morna said:


    All we really need to say is, “No. Thank you for asking, but I can’t.” Most of us think we need to give an excuse with it or we’ll seem rude. You noted the people-pleasing aspect; lots of us are there.

    I remember when I became better at ‘No.’ I was asked to recruit people for a committee for a charity project. I remember the woman I called who said, “No, I can’t be on this committee, but I’d love to work the day of the event. Can you put me on that list?” She looked at what she could do to help. So that’s one tip. If you don’t want to say no, look for a different way you can say yes, one that works for you so you don’t overcommit. You said you might fear not being asked next year. You could add with your no, “be sure to ask me next year.”

    Also remember that many times you are asked, the person is just going down a list of names. You say no, they move onto the next person and don’t remember you were a no.

    Issue 110, Spring 2010, of The Professional Quilters also has an article on 17 ways to say no. And, practicing helps. You need to get that “No” muscle in shape!

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