If you’re a small business owner, you know the feeling of getting to 4pm and realizing that not a single item has been ticked off of your daily task list. Sometimes it can feel like you’re not managing your time well. I know .. I’ve been there.
Instead of always feeling like you’re playing catch up, try these five easy things to get yourself feeling more like you’re moving steadily ahead and making some progress.
1. Remember Why
Your passion for what you do is probably what drove you to start your business to begin with. Running a business can sometimes make people forget why they got started on something in the first place. Try to remind yourself why you’re in business and why you’re spending your time trying to make it work. Doing this every day may help you to get through your task list faster. You are awesome .. don’t forget that!
2. Task Lists
Different people create their task lists, or to-do lists, at different times of the day. Some people have a written list, others prefer a virtual one with push notifications. Whatever system works for you, it’s important to put something in place that will hold you accountable and keep you on track. Personally, I am a h.u.g.e. lover of Asana.
Morning people will find that doing harder tasks in the morning is a better use of their time, and afternoon people will find that leaving these tasks until the end of the day might make them easier to deal with. You can either do your list at the beginning of the day, before heading to the office, or at the end of the day, just before you head home. Try to find the best system that works for you.
Regardless of which system you use, make sure you don’t over commit yourself. Overbooking yourself leads to stress and anxiety. Not only is it daunting to see a huge list at the start of the day, but if something changes suddenly, you need to have the flexibility to make adjustments. Also, don’t forget to reward yourself as you get things done.
3. Smart Social Media
Social media is something that should always appear genuine and real time, but anyone that uses social media knows that it can be a real time-suck. It’s easy to go online to do one simple post and the next time you look at the clock, you realize you’ve been distracted for an hour and gotten nothing done.
Scheduling posts or tweets for the week is a great way to avoid these daily distractions. Social media tools like Hootsuite and Buffer make it easy to post across multiple platforms and manage analytics. There will always be times where you should hop in and post something that’s time-sensitive or trending but try to keep the majority of your social media within a designated time slot.
4. Battling Your Inbox
No matter how many email lists we unsubscribe from, there’s always an endless barrage of emails coming at us. If your emails cause a little “ding” every time you get a new one, that’s almost always a signal to rush over and check to see what the email is about. In fact, turn off the ding and notifications. They are a mental distraction anyway.
Try to limit the amount of times that you check your emails. A few times a day is normally enough, and allows you to focus on other tasks in uninterrupted blocks, rather than jumping between tasks. Try morning, lunch, and just before you call it a night.
If you get a lot of phone calls that aren’t urgent, do the same thing. Encourage people to either book in their phone time (consider an online scheduler like Calendly), or leave a message so you can get back to them later.
5. Streamline Meetings
There are some days where it feels like all you did was go from meeting-to-meeting and call-to-call. Then at the end of the day, you feel like you got nothing done at all. For a small business, meetings need to be power packed, short, and only when necessary. Use a tool like #slack to keep the conversation going but limit check-in meetings to once a month and schedule them.
Keep all of your meetings on track, and plan each one in advance. Also, make sure that a meeting is actually what’s needed. A lot can be accomplished via emails and phone calls, but some types of projects or problems do require the face to face or team interaction gained from an in-person meeting. Don’t forget, video chat does count and goes a long way when you work virtually.
When you do plan a meeting, send an agenda at least a few days ahead. Assign a timekeeper and note taker, even if that person is you. Take notes live using Google Docs so that your team can access them immediately after the meeting (or use Evernote).
Bullet point everything – discussions, action items, next meeting day/time, etc. Save long winded paragraphs for formal writing and marketing.
These suggestions aren’t ground-breaking ideas, and some of them might even seem like common sense, but remember: talk and execution are two very different things. Knowing these tactics won’t make a difference if you don’t start making them into habits, which we all know takes time. The faster you start putting things in place, the faster your business will benefit from them.
About Out of the Office Virtual Assistance:
At Out of the Office, we offer ideas and ways to increase your productivity, decrease your workload, and work more efficiently. We nurture a successful business relationship, while continuing to grow as your business partner. We are focused on streamlining your administration, social media planning and execution, and offering creative solutions for your business success.
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