Time Management for Businesses
February 24, 2004 5:35 PM   Subscribe

What's the best book out there on time management? I've yet to find one that does it all: explain the key concepts of time management, provide a proven framework for gaining control of your time, and identify common mistakes and helpful tips.

Extra points if it deals specifically with any of the following contexts: entrepreneurship, running a proprietorship or small business.
posted by will to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Ok, well I don't think I get the bonus points, but a nice basic book that helped me get a little more organized in terms of managing my days and prioritizing all of my professional and personal "to do" lists is Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.

You might want to thumb through it at a bookstore or library to see if it's along the lines of what you're looking for, if you haven't looked through it yet.
posted by catfood at 6:40 PM on February 24, 2004

I eat that frog.
posted by dobbs at 8:19 PM on February 24, 2004

I don't know of a good book, but the pickle jar system works well for me.
posted by mmoncur at 9:47 PM on February 24, 2004

A friend of mine, who runs his own business, highly recommends Time Management for the Creative Person. Actually, he has a MeFi account but I'm not sure if he's discovered Ask yet...
posted by kindall at 10:11 PM on February 24, 2004

I really can't stand Steven Covey but several ideas from his highly sanctimonious "First Things First" have really helped me, and I teach them to people all the time with very positive effects.

I strongly believe that you can't force a new time management SYSTEM on any adult and have it stick - adults tend to balance long habit with what works for them. So I'd actually recommend reading a couple or three time management books, trying out one or two appealing ideas for a month or two at a time, and taking several months to refine your approach.

One more thing - don't buy yourself some inflexible daytimer or PDA - take time to create what works for you - then when you're pretty sure you have what works, you can customize either a paper or electronic version of that.
posted by pomegranate at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2004

Will, I noticed you are a web designer, which may mean you work out of your house. My friends and I who work alone often IM--challenge each other to get things done, and basically support each other to complete projects through competition.
For example: If I'm having trouble getting started working, I'll IM a friend and ask if they want to race. If they do, we each set our priorities and time limits, and the stake. This works best for daily things we each hate to do but need to finish, like billing.
It's fun and sometimes you win a buck or two.
posted by pomegranate at 7:48 AM on February 25, 2004

I use a modified version of David Allen's "Getting Things Done". I also use the OLD Franklin Covey software for MS Outlook (the new software is pathetically bad) and it's a lifesaver, since it provides me with a quick and easy daily task list on my computer.

The big question you need to answer before picking a time management system is, what do I need out of it? Simple time management isn't all that complicated, and can be addressed by most any system; the larger question for the self-employed is often motivation. What motivates you? Do you respond best to daily tasks, to a "master list" of everything in your world (which you can then pick from), or to large "feel good" goals and purposes? Some people get motivated by connecting every day with their "larger purpose" for doing the work - me, I need the unpleasant pressure of a daily list.

Another question worth asking is, what is your world like? Is it mostly project based, mostly task based, mostly time based, or mostly relationship based? "Getting Things Done" is great at handling tasks, "First Things First" is good at handling projects, a simple calendar is probably all you need for pure time management, and there are other tools for relationship based jobs.

A final consideration is the "upkeep" cost of the system - think about how much time you're going to spend each day getting motivated and tracking your work. Don't get me wrong, this is time very well spent, but you want the system to be as simple and as automatic as possible, so that you don't spend too much time just managing your time (it's possible, trust me).

Not many people can take control of their own lives and be highly productive at the same time. Just trying makes you one of the few and the brave. Good luck!
posted by gd779 at 9:13 AM on February 25, 2004

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