Archive for time management

My To Do List, Does it Work?

As I have said previously the recent weeks have been difficult, long hours too much to do etc.

I have mentioned time management before but I just wanted to share my thoughts about my mainstay for time management, my to do list.

Writing a to do list has saved me, for a number of reasons.  Firstly, and most obvious, the items at the top of the list get done.  Secondly, by writing a to do list each evening I review my priorities constantly.  What is important today may be both important and urgent tomorrow.  The to do list has to reflect this.  Thirdly, if something is on my to do list forever, but never reaches the top should it be there anyway?

The most important thing that should be on the to do list, but is not ever included is, rewrite the to do list! That is because after a couple of years selling on eBay, Amazon etc. it is second nature.  I think that beginning a to do list would probably be in the top 5 of my pieces of advice to anyone beginning the fantastic journey that is eBay.

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Condition is everything!

Sell successfully online

Sell successfully online

The other week Jane and I went away for the weekend (it was lovely, thanks for asking).  While we were enjoying a very brisk (i.e. cold) weekend on the North East coast of England I found a copy of a book called The Letters and Diary of Kathleen Ferrier that was in excellent condition, except for one thing.  The frontispiece had been torn out of it.  If it was intact it would have been worth £40, with this damage it was worth £6.  As I paid £1 I still made a nice profit on it (at least in percentage terms).

However, it got me to thinking.  My two general rules of thumb are never to pay more than 1/3 of what I think I can sell any item for and only buy items in the best possible condition.  This ensures that I make a reasonable profit and that I do not have too much of my working capital tied up in slow moving stock.  It also ensures that a collector interested in what I am selling will always consider my stock and come to trust me as a seller.

Selling goods in good condition helps to build both my profit and reputation.

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The Trouble with e-Mails

I was  prompted to write this after reading the excellent Matt Garrett’s blog the other week. 

He was writing about the problem of dealing with too many e-mails.  It turns out that we have a similar approach to the problem.  Here is what I do.

I only open the e-mails that I know I want to read straight away.  All the others are saved into a folder.  I only look at them again after a couple of weeks.  I know, what if I have missed anything important?  Well, I haven’t so far….

I will read anything from friends, PayPal, Amazon (especially the ‘Sold, Dispatch Now’ e-mails), and particular newsletters, like Jim Cockrum’s, straight away.  The rest tend to be e-mails from people wanting to sell me something of newsletters that looked good at the time I subscribed.

I go back to the folder when I have time.  If a newsletter is nothing but a thinly disguised sales letter then I unsubscribe.  If the e-mail includes something interesting it will still be relevant after 2 weeks.  The only things I miss because I have not opened them straight away are ‘time limited’ offers – although are still running 2 weeks after the closure date!  I have a dislike of time limited offers.  Most seem to be using a ploy to engender a sense of excitement about an otherwise rubbish offer.

How do you deal with a torrent of e-mail?


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Goals, What are Yours?

I was thinking about one of the posts I wrote a couple of days ago Top Tips For Time Management.  It is all very well to write a to do list if you know what it is what you want to do and am committed to your goal.

One of the problems for lots of us is to know exactly what it is we want.  That got me to searching through my PC files.  Here is a free download (goals) that you may find useful in sorting out what it is you really want.

Let me know if it helps.

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Top Tip For Time Management

So much to do so little time……..

This is a common problem.  There is just too much work left at the end of the day.  One way to try to solve this problem is to stay up later, get up earlier, drink lots of coffee. Another is just to give up “working from home is just too hard” and to go back to a life of non-ending 9 – 5 drudgery.

It is important to recognise the enormity of what you (and I) are doing. We have started on the path of leaving a ‘proper’ job in search of something better.  The trouble is that unless you are very lucky and money comes flooding in from day 1 the hardest part of the journey is the start, the transition from being a wage slave to being self employed and doing something you like. There is the stress of working 2 jobs, the job you are employed to do and the job you want to do. Probably, those around you do not quite understand why you are giving up your leisure time to sit in front of a PC rather than spending time with them. Inevitably, the first few months will be hard.

Here is my one top tip to help.

Write a ‘To Do’ list and then work the list. If I have time to do only one thing for my business today then I want that to be the most important thing to push the business forward. With a prioritised to do list I can start at the top and work down, no more scatter gun approach, no more running around like a headless chicken.

Each night I sit in front of the TV and write my list. I sit down with today’s list, review what I have done, what I should have done, what I could have done better. I then write tomorow’s list.

There is one unexpected and great benefit. The first few lists were huge, or would have been if I had written them. I always worried that some of the important things were being missed. I woke during the night thinking about what I would do the next morning. Then there was the ‘I know that there is something else I should be doing’ feeling the next day. That is now gone. If it is not on my list it does not get done, it may be added to tomorow’s list but today’s issue is to complete today’s list.

The list has to be prioritised. There are 4 categories;

  1. Important and urgent.
  2. Important but not urgent
  3. Urgent but not important
  4. Not urgent and not important

Having a system like this will make you focus on the important things.  It will save dithering time.  It will help you schedule (when will that important but not urgent item become urgent?  I will do it then).

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Keep on Keeping On

Starting a home business is very exiting, you think that you will be living a life of luxury by this time next year. The truth is different, it takes hard work, there will be knocks and setbacks. There will also be great highs. I remember making my first sale on ebay, my first sale on Amazon, the day that a book I paid £7.50 for sold for £140!

There are some things that you can do to make the process easier.

1. Remember why you are doing what you are doing. What is your long term goal? Is that goal still relevant, if not re-assess and start with a new goal.
2. Stay focused on doing your job, set time aside to surf the net but when you are working in your office do just that, work.  If it does not add to your business you are not working you are just pretending to work.
3. Create a schedule. How long will you spend on your business during the week, and when? Stick to your schedule. Weekdays I get into the office at 6 am. I spend an hour looking at the emails, printing off labels to post my goods that have sold through eBay and Amazon. From 7.00 until 8.00 I work on this blog and my other sites. At 8.00 I spend some time with Jane while she gets ready to go to work. At 9.00 I start studying for an exam I am taking in December. At 11.00 I wrap all my parcels (an average of 10 a day). At 12.00 I go to my proper job at 21.30 I come home and check my emails. Saturdays I do the weekly shop and check out some charity shops. Sunday I visit boot sales for more books and spend a couple of hours listing what I have bought. (Put like that it does not seem like much of a life, but having a schedule is vital. It also forces you to make the most of the time you do have with your familly).
5. Review what you are spending your time on. I used to spend a lot of time on eBay now I don’t. I do not need to, basically apart from my listing days, Thursday, all I do with eBay is to order more Zippos from my wholesaler and post the sales.

The best advise I can give you is to stay focused and to keep on keeping on.

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