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Time management challanges as an entrepreneur

I am a software entrepreneur - I write software, sell it, and get profit out of it.

When I worked as an employee, I had to do only one thing: work on whatever my boss told me to work on.

As an entrepreneur, I have to do a lot of things:

- programming on my product

- handle accounting by going to the accountant, submitting statements to the tax department, etc

- promoting the product

- etc.

I am confused - how can I manage all of these things? What schedule should I have?

Also, the thought that I have to switch between tasks and task types often causes some disconfort, for me.

Maybe I should get used to this switching.

How can I handle all these tasks, schedule them, and get them done?

George
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Get a calendar.
Get something to write/record what tasks you have to do.

Michael Sica (michaelsica.com)
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I use this:

http://palmone.com/us/software/desktop/

It's free.

Michael Sica (michaelsica.com)
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

i've found time-management to the be the most difficult aspect of having your own business.  The best solution (if it's feasible) is to hire/ partner with people to take care of marketing/sales/accounting etc.

Many if not most businesses soon become too big for a single person. 

EAW
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

As soon as you can, carefully hire someone who wants and is good at doing all the things you don't want to do, and aren't good at. 

anonamizah
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

> As soon as you can, carefully hire someone who wants and is good at doing all the things you don't want to do, and aren't good at.  <

Great, where do I find someone who does anything and everything so I can sit on my couch all day watching reruns?

Full name:
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I've owned my own sw company for about 8 years now.

Another shareware author has some FANTASTIC, insightful articles, including ones on TIME MANAGEMENT, procrastination, etc.

http://www.dexterity.com/articles/

In the begnning, everything was a fire, so anything I did helped.

Now that we're established, I find that I have to work harder at time managment. We can survive for a few YEARS with me just dealing with urgent issues and goofing off the other 70% of the time. There's no pressure to focus.

So, I'm working on that.

GOOD BOOK I'm reading now:
Getting Things Done.

The real Entrepreneur
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

> GOOD BOOK I'm reading now:
> Getting Things Done.

I assume you mean the David Allen version, there was another book with the same title.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I read this article once, it talks about making alliances with other people.

http://techrepublic.com.com/5102-6331-5060734.html

Aussie Chick
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

George,

Each task is about the same as the other, though some may be out of your 'comfort zone' like talking on the phone if you're shy. Still, each one can be chunked up into smaller tasks and as David Allen recommends, you can write down the very next thing you can do with that project to bring it to closure.

Any task you come up with based on what's in your "inbox" can either be done now (in a few minutes) or needs to be written down.

What you do at any given moment will be determined by your situation (can't reset the server from the airport, but you can make phone calls), and what you feel like, but getting eveything down on paper will help prevent you from feeling so overwhelmed.

Again, I highly recommend Getting Things Done by David Allen ( which I mentioned in this thread http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=90659 ), which is exactly where this advice comes from. The audiobook version is great if you commute via car. I found it dry, but once I'd "read" it, I organized my life and haven't looked back.

www.MarkTAW.com
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

One technique is to schedule specific activities for set times each day/week/month.

e.g. Tuesday afternoon is for marketing. Spend 4 hours looking for web sites to ask for links from, writing articles for other web sites that give a link back to yours, writing articles about how to use your product, adding useful content to your web site, answering questions in forums, exploring advertising (online and off), etc. Do this every week, and you don't have to worry about it for the rest of the week.

Maybe 1 hour each afternoon is spent answering questions about your product. Save up all the emails until then, and you don't have to think about them for the rest of the day.

Similarly, you can schedule time for writing documentation, fixing bugs, developing new features, updating your accounts, processing payments, etc. This allows you to focus on just the task you're supposed to be working on, and you don't have to feel guilty or pressured about all the things you're not working on right now. You'll deal with them at the appropriate time.

Darren Collins
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Just to add to Darren's great comments.

I've tried something similar (when I can muster the self-control).

Something interesting began to happen. For example, I had scheduled my advertising/marketing work (Adwords ;-) for Thursday afternoons.

Without a schedule, I kept putting it off, because it's not something that comes naturally to me. By not allowing myself to work on it at any other time, I actually began to think about it in the shower, etc., and really had some good ideas come Thursday lunch.  I really began to enjoy the task!

It alleviates a *huge* amount of the guilt too. Without a plan like that, you're constantly worrying about the website updates you have to do, accountant calls to return, etc. With the plan, you can just put it out of your mind.

Lots of luck, by the way. It can be an extremely rewarding trip.

Nigel
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Revolving among the various tasks (programming, marketing, etc.) is a great way to keep it interesting.

Also, this has enormous business benefits. 

I developed programs for about a year. Then worked on some marketing to get our name out there (planting seeds, if you will). While I waited for that marketing to bear fruit, I started working on new products.

Then, instead of waiting by the phone for new orders, and hating the silence, you'll CHERISH the fact that someonebody's bugging you, trying to give you money <g>.

Works great for me. Everytime I start to worry because we don't get an order for a day or two, I just remember it gives me time to do things like read DAVID ALLEN's book (mentioned above): Getting Things Done. GREAT BOOK, BTW.

Oh.. customer calling... gotta go <g>

The real Entrepreneur
Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I haven't read the Allen "Getting Things Done" book, but I read the one by Ed Bliss.

It's excellent - really good.

It's also very cheap, because it's an older book.

MX
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Michael, thanks for the PalmOne Desktop software link. I just downloaded and started using it. It is EXCELLENT! And free, too... damn!

Nicky
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

>>Michael, thanks for the PalmOne Desktop software link. I just downloaded and started using it. It is EXCELLENT! And free, too... damn!

And, if you go out and purchase a cheap used $40 palm, or even a brand new $99 palm, then you can whack a button, and that whole desktop is now on your palm when you run out the door.

Once you start using a pda...it hard to give them up. Also, they really do help for phone numbers, appointments and all those little things you need to remember. I used a palm for a long time, and it really does help keep me organized.

My pda has helped me so much. Just eliminating that frustration of looking for a phone number or having a email address when I run out the door is really great. Not to mention all kinds of little lists from account numbers, and even all my software serial numbers are in that pda. (never have to dig around when re-installing my software). I could write for pages of the stuff I use my pda for. It also does all my client billing. So, I can stop for a beer on Friday night and not have to worry about  a whole bunch of paper work piled up at the end of the week. Life feels good when you can do this, and not think about so much little paper stuff

I don’t even think, or remember how much it helps me keep organized.

For business, they really are great.

I recently gave my old palm IIIx to a friend who has never used a pda, but does use a daytimer for her weekly stuff. The person is absolute in love with the palm unit. In fact, in the last year, I seen more non technical people get computers and pda’s as compared to the last 5 years. Now, both of her sisters want a palm (one sister just got one 2 days ago, the other had a brand new one sitting in a box for a year un-used. She now will dig it out!). Lots of technology is still moving mainstream right now. I had forgotten how neat this whole process is, since I can’t remember ever not having a pda. (I used one for 10 + years).

Also, in place of the free Palm desktop, you can use Outlook, and your palm will sync with that. The main advantage of using Outlook, is then you always have all your email address with you. However, if you don’t need a email client, that free desktop is nice a organizer with the right price.

Amazing enough, that old palm IIIx with its very old original software STILL syncs with the new Outlook 2002 from Office xp (this women uses Outlook).

Anyway, use the free palm desktop. And, as always, one is on a tight budget when starting anything, so ask around to your friends for their old palm pda’s that are not being used, you might get lucky like a few of my friends who asked me!


Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, January 14, 2004

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