After ten years of running my own business, I have learnt the importance of working on your business, rather than in your business, for it to flourish.
While the benefits of doing so are immense, I know it can be difficult to incorporate it in our daily lives because we tend to get bogged down by day-to-day operations such as attending to clients, managing staff and admin work.
However, productivity doesn’t require any natural talent. Increasing your productivity only requires discipline, patience and a mindset shift until it becomes ingrained like a good habit.
I’m not saying I’ve got it down pat but I’d like to share a few tips on how I manage my time as a small business owner. I’ll also share how I handle overwhelming days because let’s face it, we all get those occasionally.
- Always plan for the next day
You don’t have to plan it in detail such as hour by hour. The point here is you need to know what you need to do the next morning before going to bed. This saves a lot of time and will make you more geared to start the day.
Usually, I will take 10 minutes to work out what my top priorities are for the next day. Then, I will set the first thing I need to do when I sit at my desk to start work. This routine really helps me become more productive in the morning as I am not wasting time recalling things or finding something to do.
- Tackle the hardest task first
This tip traces back to Mark Twain, who said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
The concept of eating the frog means tackling the task you dread the most first thing in the morning, when you are fresh and before you are bogged down with other tasks and issues. This way, you can deal with any bad result or news earlier in the day and, hopefully, resolve it by the end of the day.
If there is a task that requires a lot of brain power or a couple hours of concentration, then I will do it first before tending to other smaller and easier tasks.
- Switch off any distraction and block time
I work from home, so I’ve made sure that my family understands not to interrupt me when my office door is closed. I will block some time to do a specific task and limit distractions and interruption. I try to focus fully on the work at hand and not check emails until the current task is completed.
- Tend to emails and others quickly
After I’ve finished my main work, which is usually a couple of hours, I will spend around half an hour responding to emails and messages. I resolve small issues instantly, delegate when possible, group similar tasks together and schedule time to do them later.
- Automate whenever possible
There are plenty of apps that make our life easier. All you have to do is find the right one. When it comes to accounting, I’ve found a gem in Xero. Features such as importing emails into my contact list and scheduling invoices are heaven sent when it comes to saving time.
- Schedule meetings back to back
I like to schedule my meetings in the afternoon because that is when I need a change of activity after actively working in the morning. Usually, I try to schedule 2 or 3 catch-ups or meetings on the same day so I reduce traveling time, oh and hair and makeup time. (which is not essential when working from a home office)
What to do when it gets overwhelming?
Like a lot of things in life, your daily routine may not always go according to plan. There will be days when it gets stressful and overwhelming that you wonder how you could possibly finish everything on your to-do list.
When I feel overwhelmed, the first thing I will do is take time to update and prioritise my to-do list. Having things written on paper helps me calm down and feel more in control.
I will look at my to-do list and find the top three things I must get done first based on importance and urgency. No more than three because your brain will start to feel overloaded and stressed. After finishing the three things, pick the next three priorities you must finish. This goes on until you’ve cleared your work.
Also, I will question everything on my plate.
- Can this be delegated to someone else? If somebody else can do the job better than me, I will get them to tend to it.
- Can this task be automated? Small tasks can usually be automated given the right app or software.
Finally, always focus on finishing one task rather than trying to multitask. Jumping from one screen or document to another will only slow your brain down. Keep in mind what you need to finish and don’t allow yourself to get distracted. You’ll get more done this way.
That’s the gist of it. How about you? How do you manage your time and stressful days? I’m happy to have a “Next Actions” chat with you on how some productivity apps can assist with your day. Book in now or all our office on (07) 3355 6427
Specialising in Xero bookkeeping, Notch Above is a Brisbane bookkeeper and BAS Agent located in Alderley that offers Xero setup, as well as training and ongoing support. Notch Above can take care of all the bookkeeping tasks you would rather not do, like bank reconciliations, supplier payments, payroll services, debtor control and BAS returns.
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