To Do List
First thing at the start of each day take time to organise what you need to achieve, in priority order. It’s okay if it all goes to pot, but at least you’ll have a plan to start with, as the saying goes no plan survives contact with the enemy! Every day has enemy gremlins who steal your time, attention and head space. That’s okay, it happens, but if you’ve started out with a list of actionable items which are prioritised, then you can keep referring back to it.
Are you seeing the big picture or are you rushing from one fire to another, consistently feeling like you are only just making it there in time and then rushing to the next job. Do you have a big picture plan of what’s happening now and what’s coming down the pipeline? Spend time once a week or month to take a step back and see what’s happening and reprioritise if needed. If you can see your big picture you can make informed decisions as to what needs to be done next, rather than reacting when it’s urgent.
Have the discipline to work through the list in priority order, I know the exciting sexy task you really want to do is calling your name, but that boring tax return or invoice processing needs to be done first. Do those tasks quickly, efficiently and first, then you can spend the time on the good stuff, without that nagging feeling in the back of your mind.
Work no more than 2 hours in one sitting. You lose productivity if you sit still for any longer. So, take a comfort break, go on a short walk, grab a drink, check in to see how colleagues are doing – especially if you are the boss, get out there and be seen. Say hi to your team. 10 minutes doing this will pay dividends in the long run.
Find a way of working which helps you to maximise your work space for you. Do you like paper, then have plastic wallets with clients / projects names on the front and keep all your files in a file organiser on your desk. It’s to hand, neat and ensures you have any paperwork you need all together. Work on one folder / file at a time and put it away when you’ve finished with it. Have a separate file organiser for long term projects and closed / finished ones elsewhere. So what is to hand is the current needed regularly ones.
Keep your inbox neat and tidy, if you have subscriptions get them sent directly to a reading folder, then they aren’t a distraction when you are reviewing your emails, plus you don’t have to search for them when you want to read them. Have a cc’d file, anything that you’ve been cc’d in to goes directly to there. That was you should be left with emails that you need to read and deal with. Set some time aside once a day / every couple of days to review your cc’d folder and catch-up. If it’s important they’ll send it directly to you.
Take the time to look after yourself, make sure you take proper holidays and switch off completely. Try to not have you phone on for a particular part of the weekend and when on holiday ensure you have hours where you aren’t on it. Just stop completely and recharge those batteries.
Running your own business(es) can be fraught with chaos and that’s ok, it’s how you deal with it which impacts your ability to work through it. Have goals to each day and stick to them with flexibility (that’s the hard bit). Rigidity doesn’t work here, being flexible around how you work to your goals and achievements will allow you take embrace the chaos when it’s at it’s worse and help you to steer yourself towards your goals. Do you need input from others to see a way through, or time to reassess or space to clear you mind to think clearly to see your way. Speak to someone, do a different task or take a walk to clear your head. Bounce ideas / thoughts / problems off your VA and see what input they can provide. They will see things differently than you and can help you to generate a clearer solution to an issue, then they can help you to achieve it too.
A great way to be organised is to batch “bake” your work, e.g. set aside a particular day of the month where you issue all your invoices, do that first thing in the morning. All at once, you’ll get into a rhythm and before you know it, they are all done for the month. Or write all your social media posts on a Tuesday afternoon in one go, you’ll get your creative post writing juices following and may find that you are turning out several posts in a lot less time (in total) than when you were writing them individually. Also, what a great way to write a series, as your thoughts are all collected as you work through it all at once. There’s a reason way mass production is highly used, so embrace it and mass produce work pieces.
Letting go, especially of a part of your business is so hard, will that person care as much as me, can they do it as well as me, will they get it right? All questions that every manager / business owner has asked themselves time and time again. The Harvard Business Review provides a process to help you become a great delegator:
- Understand why you’re not delegating already
- Measure how you’re doing with regards to the work
- Choose the right people who have the skill-set and capabilities to do the work required
- Integrate delegation into what you already do, so that it’s your first option not last
- Make yourself accountable for delegating, allow others to advise you that it’s something that can be done by someone else
- Release the work, don’t micromanage or hover, give clear instructions, set boundaries and allow the delegate to do the work
- Learn from experience, what could you improve next time you delegate
Ask yourself the following questions and if the answer is yes, then delegate it and go back to managing your business, not doing your business!
- Do you dislike doing it?
- Is it an easy to do, process-orientated task, that is time consuming?
- Do you struggle to do it?
- Is it getting in the way of growing your business?
- Will it increase cash flow?
- Is it something that someone in the team needs to learn to do?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, then delegating those tasks so that you can concentrate on managing your business rather working it. Consider working with a VA who can provide you with the support you need to maximise your efficiency. If you don’t have the time, it isn’t efficient or you lack a skill-set to do something, then hire in a solution.