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Do you have the time?

How best to manage my time has been a big focus for me, particularly since becoming a tech editor. I’m sure that this can be an issue for many of you at times so I thought I would create a little series of blog posts sharing my tips for what I have found helpful, as well as the pitfalls I encountered along the way!

Starting your own business is a huge learning curve, no matter who or how many people you speak to before you set out. Your business is individual to you and so is the way that it has to fit in to your life and circumstances. So while you can gain a lot of really useful information by talking to other people in your field, it helps to remember that the nuts and bolts of how you run your business alongside your other commitments is going to be trial and error for a while (and if you are a bit of a perfectionist like me, then this may take some getting used to!).

When I started as a tech editor I had a very clear idea of how I would split my time between my family and my business but it didn’t take long for me to realise that while I had made a detailed plan for how I would handle the editing, I had drastically underestimated how much time the admin side would take. I knew I would have to formulate a plan of action.

So before taking on a task I now ask myself 3 questions:

  • How long will this actually take me?  Be realistic, then add extra time to give you a buffer should it take longer than a expected. If you are unsure how long something takes you, you could time yourself using the stopwatch on your phone to give you a better idea.
  • How much time do I actually have?  You might be free between 10am and 2pm but that doesn’t mean you have 4 hours in which to work.  You might have an appointment at 2pm that you have to travel to and you will need to stop for lunch, leaving you 3 hours or less in which to work.
  • How important is it?  Will everything else grind to a halt if you don’t carry out this task straight away or can it wait a while?

After that it is simply down to maths. If the time it takes to do something fits in to the time you have then that’s great!  If not, can you find more time by asking someone to help you with other tasks, freeing you to carry on with what you need to do?  Or if it isn’t that important, can you reschedule for another day when you know you will have enough time?

The most important thing is to be honest with yourself.  If the expectations that you put on your time are realistic then this will help you to stay focused and feel that you are moving closer to achieving your goals.

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