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June 13, 2013

Time… it either runs through your fingers like water, or drags along like molasses, depending on your day. How you structure your time plays a significant role in your stress levels and productivity. Today we’re going to share a few different methods for “time chunking” that have proven to be amazingly effective for staying focused and reducing day-to-day business stress.

As the Founders of Showcasing Women, Angela and I have extremely different lifestyles. We also have very different roles, tasks and pressures within our business. As a result, we’ve each developed our own methods and strategies of time management that work for us, with the end result being a highly productive business, lowered stress levels, AND quality time for our loved ones and ourselves.

Between the two of us, you will certainly find some golden nuggets to begin utilizing immediately!

ANGELA: Managing a successful online business and being the mother of three active boys can easily be classified as an EF5 tornado if you let it. In my early days of working online, it was even more challenging because I had three small children under the age of five and I hadn’t yet mastered the art of time management. In fact, it’s safe to say that time managed me – and my stress level was through the roof! However, through some very strategic planning, I now have a lifestyle business where I spend quality time with my family and still have stress-free time for myself.

My secret is the concept of Good, Better, and Best. Everything in my life, both personal and business, is put into one of these categories. Then, my daily schedule is built and prioritized around the Best items. Why? Because as much as I might want to do something in the Good category, it may take valuable quality time away from the Best things I can focus on. And that simply is not living.

For example, I enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty of the day-to-day social media planning for our business. However, as Good as that is, it is not Best for my role in our company. My role as President of the company is to focus on high-level strategic planning – that is what’s Best for us! So if I want to do something in the Good or Better category, I have to take something out of the Best category and replace it.

By allowing flexibility in my life, I am able to reach my goals, keep my stress down, and have a successful lifestyle business!

SUZANNE: As the CEO of our small business, I could easily find myself overwhelmed without systems in place. Furthermore, as a woman without children to juggle, I can easily put more time into working 24/7 – and that is certainly a recipe for burnout! Over the years I have found that “chunking” works best for me. I chunk my time into blocks, I chunk my content into organized folders, and I chunk my team into clearly defined tasks and accountability.

This is how it works: Email can be a major derailment opportunity for most people, so I chunk my email content into folders – a folder for Today’s To-Do, this week’s follow-up, one for each team member, a folder for each category piece of our business, and so forth. Each morning the very first thing I do is quickly scan my email, grab everything that must be responded to immediately and drag them into my Today To-Do folder. Things needing follow-up at some point within that week get moved to a different folder. If I have something I may want to review at a later date, like a set Google Alert for a topic I’m tracking, that goes into my Research folder, and so forth. Everything else is deleted. I give myself no more than 15 minutes to do this so that I don’t end up getting sucked in and sidetracked.

Throughout my day I chunk my time into 15, 30, 45 and 60-minute increments. I select a particular task and assign myself a reasonable, but not overly generous, amount of time to complete the task with no interruption. During this time I don’t respond to phone calls, emails, or anything else – unless, of course, somebody is bleeding.

In order to keep my stress levels in check, I also chunk time throughout my day to take a 15-minute walk outside, make a quick call to a family member or friend to catch up, play with pets, or do whatever non-business related thing I feel like doing. It is essential to give yourself these breaks throughout the day or your stress and subsequent productivity go down the drain. And for me, I have to actually schedule this into my time chunking or it doesn’t happen because I’m so busy. When I give myself these regular short breaks, my energy and efficiency stays high!

Lastly, I chunk my team. I know that sounds funny (or painful), yet it works. They are given deadlines and specific tasks that must be completed without me having to hand-hold or babysit. There is nothing more stressful to a business owner than having to spend time constantly looking after your team. If they know precisely what must be done, and what the target result and timing is, then they can take care of it themselves and take the stress off of you.

Any team member who is given clearly-defined tasks with good communication on what must be accomplished, and then still doesn’t come through, should either be repositioned to a more suitable role or let go. Team members are there to take the stress off of you, not add to it. So chunk them into the absolute best role for their personalities and skills sets, communicate with efficiency and deadlines, and let them relieve some of your pressure.

You will find that by putting systems and strategies into place that are utilized throughout the day, you will keep your stress levels down, run a more efficient business, and make more money. Running a business should be all about monetizing while having fun, and it IS possible.

Okay, the time we’ve chunked out for this article is up. Time for a quick mental break!


Learn more about Suzanne Duret and Angela Giles

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