If you run your own business or work from home, you’ll know that proper scheduling is half the job. If you can arrange all your ducks neatly in a row, your day will proceed swimmingly. If you can’t, then you’ll be pulling your hair out until 10 pm.
In this post, I take a look at some of the scheduling challenges that you’re likely to face while running a business, and what you can do about them.
Problem 1: Lack Of Official Schedule
“I do what I want when I want” – that’s the mantra of many people who work from home. However, it doesn’t always work out well. While some degree of flexibility is helpful, just randomly lurching from one task to another is not efficient. If you try this method, you’ll soon discover that your working week expands continuously and that you never have any time off.
To solve this problem, use scheduling software that you keep on your PC. This will alert you when you have a new task or meeting to complete.
Problem 2: Unreliable Customers
Customers should, ideally, show up to appointments on time. However, on many occasions, they do not. In fact, the problem can be so bad that some companies spend upwards of 25 percent of their time either idle or chasing people to show up.
You can schedule your business SMS messages using FireText. This way, you can remind people when and where they need to show up.
Research suggests that text message reminders are among the most powerful ways to get people to stick to their appointments. Send them a message a day before their appointment, and then one hour beforehand to make sure that they don’t forget.
Problem 3: Time Off
Planning for time off is always challenging, particularly when you are responsible for running your own business. You know that the moment you leave standards will drop (or no work will get done at all). You can’t, however, operate with no time off at all. Everyone needs a break from time to time.
Make sure that if you do take time off, you do it in a way that your business can continue to function. If you have employees, don’t schedule vacation time concurrently – that will place too much strain on remaining workers. You can also set priority periods. These are times of the year when everyone needs to be at the office to deal with demand.
Problem 4: Illness
Illness and unexpected absences do happen from time to time – and it’s nobody’s fault. However, it does create unwanted scheduling issues. When somebody randomly takes time off work, all of a sudden, somebody else has to slot in and do all their tasks. The best way to deal with this is to have a plan in place. You want at least two people on your team to be able to perform all tasks. You don’t want a situation where just one employee has the ability to complete an operation, but nobody else does.
One solution here is to use scheduling software. This lets you rapidly reallocate work from one employee to another. You can also train employees to work in pairs so that if one is not available, the other can take over.
Problem 5: Not Enough Time For Life
If you run a business by yourself, you can often run out of time to do the things that really matter to you in life. You’d love to have time to prepare meals and exercise, but you feel like you’re chained to your office chair all day. If you feel like you don’t have enough time, you should reevaluate your scheduling priorities. It turns out that finding time “for life,” actually increases how much you can get done. For instance, if you take an hour off at lunch to do exercise, you invariably discover that you can get more done in the afternoon.
Don’t be afraid to pamper yourself a little by allowing yourself more time. Taking breaks actually makes you more effective for the rest of the week.
Problem 6: Overscheduling
Lastly, you might actually engage in overscheduling. This is where you attempt to cram too much into your day. Overscheduling is actually quite easy to do. We have this idea that tasks will always proceed in a linear and predictable fashion and so we arrange our schedules around that.
However, that’s rarely the case. Sometimes clients will run over and you might get interrupted between appointments.
To correct overscheduling, focus on building buffer periods throughout the day – particularly between client start times. Then use these either to absorb overruns or for other administrative tasks throughout the day.