Running a business can easily run you into the ground. New York Times #1 best-selling author and personal coach Cheryl Richardson offers exclusive tips to help you time for your life and make yourself a priority.

  1. Make sure you are clear about your top five professional priorities.
    Set aside an hour or two to consider your top five priorities for the next three months. Once you have identified them, I recommend that you list them on a 3x5 index card. Label the card "My Absolute Yes List," and hang it in your office where you'll see it everyday. This one simple step has powerful results. Use this list to remind you of the items that should get your time and attention first.
  2. Anticipate and eliminate distractions before they occur.
    Once you have completed your absolute yes list, consider those things that may prevent you from honoring these priorities. For example, reduce daily interruptions from phone calls or employees by posting a "do not disturb" sign or shutting off the phone's ringer for two hours every afternoon. If you get into the habit of anticipating and eliminating distractions on a daily basis, you will not only find yourself more focused and productive, you will have far more time for your life outside work.
  3. Build reserve.
    As you go into busy times at work, consider the additionalresources that you will need to avoid emergencies altogether. For example, do you need more employees, more physical space, or more money? Too often entrepreneurs wait until the last minute to add resources when a crisis has already occurred. Anticipate needs and build the reserves that your company can tap into.
  4. Schedule time for your life outside work sooner rather than later.
    Take out your calendar and do two things over the next three months -- predetermine the hours that you will work on a daily basis, and block off time at the end of your work day. Decide now that you will come in at 9 and leave at 5 and block off time for yourself after 5. If exercise is important, schedule time in your appointment book for the next three months to do it. Schedule in time with your family. If it's in the book for you, it becomes unavailable for others.

For information on Cheryl Richardson, her books "Take Time for Your Life" and "Life Makeovers," or to subscribe to her free newsletter, check out her Web site.

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Published on: Sep 12, 2000