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If you don’t already know, I am a big fan of spreadsheets! They have so many more uses than just calculating figures. They are also a great tool to help you manage your time effectively.
As a busy soloprofessional you are not only working for your clients, but you have to work ON your business too. Effective time management is crucial for developing and growing your business, as well as income generating activities.
Below are my top 3 tips for effective time management using spreadsheets.
1. Create a Work Schedule
When I started to get busier I realised I needed a system that would allow me to anticipate or schedule in client’s work. I designed a really simple spreadsheet with the weeks along the top and the client’s down the side. I encourage my clients to book work with me in advance so that I can put this in my schedule. For regular clients I can book in so many hours for them each week, and because my spreadsheet totals the number of hours booked each week I can see what my commitments are and what I have left.
I find that it’s really working, not only because my clients can get ‘booked in’, but when I get an enquiry for new work I can look at my schedule to see if I can meet their deadline.
This system works well for me!
If you find yourself having time management issues with your clients, then give my system a go!
2. To Do List
How do you manage your day-to-day tasks? Do you have a notebook for your To Do lists and cross out each one as you go along? Or do you have little yellow post-its stuck all over the place? Is this really the best way of managing your daily tasks?
Spreadsheets are a great way for you to organise your To Do list. Set up headings in the first row and add your tasks below. You can then sort your list by any column that you choose, making it an interactive To Do list. And best of all, your list is contained in one place.
Create a shortcut to your To Do list and place it on your desktop so that you can access it easily, or just keep it open and minimise your screen each time you’re not using it.
Make your To Do list even more interactive by filtering out those tasks that have already been completed. How? Use the AutoFilter built into Excel!
3. Plan Projects and Activities
How do you keep a track of what needs to be done and when?
The answer’s simple — set up a spreadsheet!
Spreadsheets also accept date formats and this makes them a great tool for tracking projects or planning activities. You can easily use AutoFill to create a date timeline too. Use the column headings for your dates, and the rows for your activities.
Use the cell where the date meets the activity to enter notes, To Do, or anything else relating to your project or activity. Once an activity is complete you can use the strikeout feature to cross it off!
As you work along the timeline, you can hide the columns with past dates, showing only those columns for current and future dates. And if you want to be really creative, use different colours for the cells to represent different activities, i.e. blue cells = to be done; red cells = overdue etc.
Follow these 3 time management tips, and you will soon be using more time more wisely!
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