One of the paths to success is the ability to manage time properly. In other words, the path to success is the ability to do what needs to be done and when needs to be done. Time management is not really about managing time, but it is more about managing tasks. Let’s talk about the stages you may experience on this journey of becoming a store-owner. Here, some techniques will help you to manage your time, and tasks!
Two Different Phases
There are mainly two different stages when you own a shop:
1. Setting up the shop: You may need to choose products, find a supplier, set up a website, plan how to promote your products and how to brand your store.
2. Managing the shop: You may need to review and fulfill orders, execute your marketing plan and review your accounts.
What it is important is the difference between the tasks on each stage. On the first stage, you will find tasks that need to be done once. While in the second stage, you find tasks that are repetitive in general. Thus, the strategies we used to deal on each stage are not the same. Let’s see how can we deal with them:
Stage1: Setting Up The Shop
At the beginning of any project, there are uncertainties. The tasks that need to be done are less defined. We are still in the process of learning what needs to be done and how. This uncertainty makes this stage seems busier. However, if things are done well, setting up an online store will be an exciting task. This is a good thing: you will spend months starting up a shop but years managing one. So, let’s see how we can manage it.
To Do, Doing, and Done
Lists are your best friends! Create list of everything you have to accomplish. Any time you have an idea, got a new tip, found a new opportunity, write it down in a list. I guess this is not the first time you hear this advice, so let’s jump directly in how to create and use a great list.
We are going to have a list with three columns: the first column is for the tasks we need to accomplish, the next column is for the task we are doing right now and the last column is for the tasks that are already done.
In the first To-Do column, we are going to group the tasks according to the reason why we need to do it. You can create boxes in the first column and put in each box what is the outcome you want. Inside the box, you can put the specific tasks you need to accomplish to reach this outcome.
Now that we organized and filter our tasks, let’s go to the next step: we are going to select three tasks (only three task) to do next. We move those three tasks to the Doing column. The three tasks only! When you finish one of these three tasks, move it to the next column: Done. The task has been completed. Don’t add new tasks to the Doing column until all the three tasks has been completed.
Once the Doing column is empty, check the To-Do column, delete those tasks that are not longer necessary and choose the next three tasks: Move these three tasks to the Doing column and do the same work again.
Now, we have our tasks organized and a good system for selecting what to do. Then, we need a good technique to help us actually do the job. Here, let me introduce you to the Pomodoro technique. This technique will help you fight procrastination and enter your “zone”.
First, get a kitchen timer. Put the timer on 25 minutes and start it. Now, work! You have to finish the task before the time runs out. The point I want to raise here is that the sense of urgency that this 25 minutes produces the best weapon against procrastination and any other excuse. When you have a time limit, you don’t postpone things, you just do it!
In addition, this sense of urgency will help you focus on only one task, and after you are focus for a couple of minutes, you may enter your “zone”. The zone, or flow, is a mental state in which people is the most productive. Once you are in the flow, you can forget the kitchen timer and just concentrate in the task at hand.
Stage2: Managing a Shop
After the store gets ready, the product selected, the vendors are chosen, and the promotion plan are established, managing an online store becomes a succession of similar tasks. In other words, it becomes your daily work. At this stage, you can use the same techniques that we use while opening a store, but this could be much more work when you are managing known tasks. What you should start doing on this stage is to make a routine.
Make a Routine
Many of the activities we do daily could be done automatically. We don’t really need to think too much when doing it. Managing a shop has to become a part of these activities that are run in autopilot. How can we do that? We start with the same techniques: using our to-do list and our kitchen timer.
During the process, please try to recognize patterns on each tasks: how often you need to do it? when is the best time? Follow these patterns and soon these tasks will move away from the to do list and will be run in autopilot. It will feel like an effort at first, but it won’t be felt later on. Most importantly, it needs to be consistent.
Setting up a shop is not an easy enterprise. But it is also very rewarding. There will be many tasks to overcome. But with these three techniques, you will be able to accomplish it effectively and run your shop in auto pilot. So remember:
- Use a to-do list to organize, filter and prioritize your tasks
- Use the Pomodoro technique to fight procrastination and increase focus.
- Make a repetitive task routine to run them in auto pilot.
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