A time line is a terrific stress buster, because it gets important events onto paper which allows business owner to stop carrying
it all around "in his head". It also forces organizational thinking, and ensures that important details are not forgotten.
I have worked on huge, very detailed projects that ran over a period of several years (I had a position coordinating
activities required for getting Boeing 747 galleys installed on the airplanes on time). Without a
good plan, I would never have completed tasks on time. Long, detailed projects must be
broken down into shorter periods of time and smaller goals. "Have all the galleys ready two years from now" is
far too big of a task and too long of a period. How would you know on any given day whether you are on schedule?
Lay out the project over a time line
by starting with major milestones. Next, break down the major milestones into smaller areas.
Break down the small areas into individual tasks. Once you have a workable plan, you can forget
about it to a large extent. You simply focus on where you need to be now and don't dwell on future
dates. Don't try to keep everything in your head. By getting it down on paper, you can "let go" of it.
This is a terrific stress reducer. I even used this method of time organization to plan my
college assignments and my wedding! There are excellent software tools you can use, or you can use paper and
pencil. Nothing fancy is needed. When I worked for the Boeing 747 division, computers weren't around yet and I managed fine
with paper and pencil.
Remember, computer spreadsheets are truly wonderful for the above. You can be as fancy as you want
to be. Try to become knowledgeable in the use of spreadsheet programs; graphs and charts are
visually more appealing than sets of numbers. I am a visual person, so I prefer such "pictures".
If you do not have access to a computer, however, a large columner pad works very well also.
Businesses were run very successfully for years without the use of computers, so don't feel
you must have expensive software right away to succeed.
Business Planning and Time Management Supplies
Having the proper supplies will help you manage your
time, create a high quality business plan, and organize your life. In addition to a time line, I recommend a personal calendar. Post all business meetings and major milestones in your
personal calendar. This ensures that your business goals do not conflict with your personal responsibilities and goals.
In the sample below, red lines represent major milestones. If today's date is September 15th and you have not yet purchased inventory or signed a lease, you know that you are
behind schedule. You would need to take some drastic action to catch up, or you would need to plot a new time line that accurately reflects where you are now.