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The 9 to 5 Home Business Tug o' War

By Elena Fawkner

Perhaps the scarcest commodity the new home-business
owner just starting out has is time.  This is particularly
so if you are also working a traditional, full-time job and
building up your business "on the side" in your spare time.

This is a situation I am all too familiar with.  I still
work a full-time 8:30 - 5:00 job while building my own
internet-based business in my spare time.  So how do you
go about burning the candle at both ends without burning
yourself out in the process?

First off, let's think about priorities.  Working a full-
time job while developing a business requires stamina and
endurance if other areas of your life are not to be
neglected.  This means being fit and healthy.  Make time to
exercise at least three times a week.  Four or five is
better.  I know how hard it can be to commit an hour to
working out when you've got an endless (and I mean ENDLESS!)
list of things you need to be doing NOW for your business.
But make the time.  It pays BIG dividends in terms of stamina
and endurance. For me, this means getting up at 4:00 am on
workout days.  If that's what it takes for you, do it!

Second, eat right.  Don't just grab a McBurger on the way
home from work and scoff it down as you're driving.  Take
the time to cook a proper meal and relax for a half hour
or an hour before getting down to business.  This gives you
a break and time to unwind from the pressures of the day,
making you much more productive when you do get down to
work.  Eating proper meals will keep you in good health and,
coupled with a regular exercise routine, will help keep
your energy levels high.

OK, so you're physically in shape and taking care of
yourself.  The next major thing to think about is time
management.  Every weekend, before the working week starts,
prepare a business plan for the coming week.  This is
nothing more complicated that writing down the various
business-related activities you must do over the course of
the coming week and then scheduling them according to how much
time you know you are going to have on a particular day.  By
planning out your time this way, you can schedule your
business activities alongside your other activities.  Take
care of as many of them as you can through the course of the
day.  Whether you are able to do this depends on the nature
of your 9 to 5 job but if you have even a little autonomy you
should be able to squeeze out a little time here and there.
Not huge chunks, just 10 minutes here and there.

The nature of your job may mean you don't have the luxury
of that sort of autonomy.  If this is you, then there's
nothing for it but to free up time before and after work.
This may mean getting up an hour earlier every day, for example.

Whatever your personal situation, by planning ahead you will
at least have the peace of mind of knowing that time has
been allocated to all important business-related tasks.
By eliminating the "scatter gun" approach you will find that
the limited time you do have will be much more productive.

There are going to be some activities that you have to do
day in, day out.  Decide what time of the day is best for
you to attend to these routine tasks.  The more you can
integrate business activities into your daily routine the
more efficient will be your use of time.  Let's take email,
for example.  Anyone running an online business has to deal
with email on a daily basis.  I use the time between when I
get up in the morning and when I start my workout for this.
It gives me time to wake up before I launch into physical
activity and it is a relatively undemanding task that does
not require precision concentration.

Make use of autoresponders for as much of your email
processing as possible.  This will further reduce the amount
of time you have to spend on this aspect of your business.

Other routine activities include things like site promotion
and search engine position monitoring.  Now there are a lot
of great tools to help webmasters with this part of their
business.  For example, WebPosition Gold will automatically
review your position in all the major search engines and
report back to you with the results.  It can also be
programmed to auto-submit at appropriate intervals.  Be sure
to use quality automated tools wherever possible.  They can
save you literally hours of work every week and as we all
know, time is money in this business.

Keep a journal for a week.  Record in it everything you do
during the day from the moment you get up in the morning
to the moment you go to bed.  What activities can you
eliminate in favour of freeing up some time for your
business?  Maybe it means getting up an hour earlier.
Maybe it's forgoing the sleep-in on the weekend.  Maybe it
means giving up those two hours of TV every night.  You will
find even 15-20 minutes blocks here and there can add up to a
sizeable chunk of time over a week or a month.

If you travel, keep a copy of your website on your laptop
and work on it while you're in the air or waiting for a
flight.  Or answer your email ready to send it when you get
plugged in again.

As you can see, the trick is to practice the "nibble"
technique.  If you wait until you have a great chunk of time
in one block, such as the weekend, you'll only waste all of
those little bits of time you could have put to good use
during the week and fritter away your "quality" time on
routine tasks rather than business development.

One final piece of advice.  Take time every week to just
relax and do something you want to do.  Although the
pressures of a new business are demanding, failing to take
time out will only lead to burn out.


Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ... practical ideas, resources and strategies for your home-based or online business. http://www.ahbbo.com


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