It can begin with something as innocent as a routine check of your email, or a visit to your favorite networking site. Then before you know it, “just one more thing” has turned into 10 more things, it’s 3am, the kids are still awake, and you’re left wondering where all your time went!
Here are some tips that will help you manage your time as an online WAHM.
1. Plan your work day ahead of time. Write down exactly what you will do, and how long you will spend doing it. Know what the 2 or 3 most important things you need to complete are and focus on those first. Then follow your plan. If you’ve allowed yourself 45 minutes to write an article, or work on a blog post, that’s all you give yourself. When your time is up, your work is done. You will find you are much more focused when you know you only have a short time to spend on a specific task.
2. Get a grip on social networking. Online networking is important part of your online business. It can also be one of the biggest time eaters. To help tame this time eating monster, network only at sites that are valuable to you. Valuable sites are the sites that bring you quality traffic, and help you build important relationships. Schedule your social networking as well. Select a certain day or a certain time, and put a time limit on your social networking.
3. Check email only once or twice a day. Your email account can be another big time waster. To help keep it under control, unsubscribe from mailing lists that you don’t read. Allow only a certain amount of time for reading and responding to email, then shut down your email program. Set up an autoresponder that lets people know when they can expect a reply from you.
4. Deal with each email as you read it. Don’t leave it in the queue to be handled another day. If an email requires a response, reply immediately. If you need to take action on an email, add it to your to-do list, then file the email in an appropriate folder. This will help you keep control over your incoming email.
Note: I personally check my email more often, but I respond only to urgent emails immediately. I use GMail to manage my mail and have found it really helps me save time. I use some of the tips at http://putthingsoff.com/inbox-heaven/ and have found it tremendously helpful at managing the 600+ emails a day that come into my inbox.
5. Store your passwords in a safe place. Use a free program like Password Corral or RoboForm to keep track of all your passwords for your hosting, your blogs, and anything else you need a password for. This will keep you from wasting time guessing at passwords or using password recovery tools.
6. Use time management tools created by others. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to discover the best time management practices for you. Look for books that deal with time management, and use the suggestions that make sense for you. Mind Tools (mindtools.com), a website dedicated to time management, has several free tools you can use to manage your time, such as activity log to track your time, steps for creating an action plan, and ideas for scheduling time. You may prefer a printed planner (tips on choosing the perfect planner for you are here), or an online calendar you can sync to your computer or ipod (I use BackPack along with my BaseCamp account).