Ever said this? "I don't have enough time for everything!" or "There's just too much to do!" You're not alone. I'd say just about every self-employed business owner has made that their weekly mantra. Well I have good news and bad news. The bad news is there's NOT enough time to do everything, and as long as you continue to focus on that, you most likely won't even get the important things done.

The good news is, there are plenty of tools you can implement into your business that will help you accomplish the high priority tasks, and feel good about what you are doing. I'm going to share with you a handful of strategies that will do just that. But first let's talk a bit about mindset.

You will never get "caught up", and you will never "get finished" as long as you are in business. So get those concepts right out of your head. The list of things to do is ever expanding, that's just part of the deal. If you are able to complete the top 5 or 6 items on your daily "To Do" list, you've won the day. Celebrate that instead of what didn't get done.

The next bit of important thinking is, you are responsible for everything that's on your plate. It didn't jump on there by itself. You grabbed the ladle and plopped a heaping helping of networking meetings, emails and phone calls right next to the marketing and follow-up. Not to say any of those things aren't important, but you made the decision to lump them all together.
OK. Now that you have your thinking in order, let's get to meat of the matter.

7 Tips to Beat the Clock

1. Take Stock - No, not soup! I mean keep track of what you are spending your time on. Here's a simple exercise for you. For the next week, keep a tally or journal of how you spend your time each day. In detail. Record your activities every hour of what you did. I'll bet you're saying "I don't have time for that!" Just do it, OK? You have to measure something if you want to change it. After a week, count up how many hours you spent on each type of activity such as email, phone calls, marketing, meetings, etc. I guarantee an "Ah Ha" moment.

2. When you Think it, Ink it - Get things out of your head and onto paper, into your schedule or onto your computer. Humans have somewhere around 60,000 thoughts a day, so if you think you'll remember everything later, guess again. I carry a digital voice recorder with me so I can capture important ideas and to do's when they come up. I keep a journal with me too. When I get home, I move these important thoughts and ideas into my planners.

3. Eliminate Distractions - Turn of you cell phone, unplug your office phone and shut down your email. Unnecessary or untimely distractions are the biggest time wasters in your day. I promise you won't die if you don't check email for an hour or two. If you share an office with someone or work in an environment where other folks like to pop in and say Hi, then shut your door with a "Do Not Disturb" sign on it and request your office mate not talk to you when the door is closed. You're working.

4. Prioritize Your Activities - Control your day, don't let it control you. Have a list of tasks you want to accomplish each day. Rank them in order of importance. A) Must do today. B) Want to do today. C) Might be nice to do today. Then rank them A1, A2 etc. in order of highest priority. And here's a hint. Some of the A's should be marketing and business generating activities. Don't let others determine what you do, their emergency or lack of planning cannot dictate your schedule.

5. Block Your Time - One of the most time consuming things in your day is starting and stopping an activity. Block off an hour or two for each task you plan to work on. An hour for phone calls, two hours for marketing, and hour to reply to emails, etc. Only work on that task during the appointed time block. If an idea interrupts your or you remember something your forgot to do, write it down and return to the task at hand. I like to use a kitchen timer to help track my time blocks. When the timer goes off, I can reevaluate spending more time on that block or moving on to something more important.

6. Multi-Tasking is a Myth - You can't do more than one thing at a time. Sorry. Multi-tasking is just moving between two or more things and not doing any of them very well. Focused attention on one objective at a time is the best way to do a great job on that activity. It's true that women are better multi-taskers than men, but that just means they do a better job at being inefficient than men.

7. Stay Organized - Part of your day should be devoted to keeping your work space, calendar and projects in order. Fifteen to 30 minutes of organization and planning can save you two hours of wasted time that could be used for accomplishing 'A' priority tasks. If you are spending more than 2 minutes looking for a document or phone number, or if you frequently miss or are late for appointments, then it's time you got organized. Do it before you call it quits for the day. I promise, you'll thank me tomorrow.

There are probably a dozen more tips I could give you to eliminate the Chaos from your day, but these are enough to get you started. My advise, pick one thing on this list that your are not doing now, and implement it into your business. Make it a habit, then pick another tip and put it to work. Within a few weeks or months you'll have completely conquered the Beat the Clock syndrome.

© 2007 Steve O'Sullivan

Author's Bio: 

Business Productivity Coach, Speaker and Expert Author Steve O'Sullivan is the publisher of 'The LifeLine' monthly small biz improvement ezine. Mr. O'Sullivan has been self employed for over 20 years and has helped many small business owners achieve the success the desired. If you're ready to make a serious impact on your business, make more money, and get more done in less time, visit his website now at www.SOSimpact.com