As a solo entrepreneur I had been doing it all in my business for the past number of years. From having my accounting books in order, keeping up with sales and invoicing, mastering marketing and promoting myself, lifting my profile, understanding and getting my head around social media. Then it was about doing my own rebranding, upgrading my website, writing articles and networking. This list goes on and on. Gosh, I am tired just writing about it.
When I consider the amount of time, energy and effort that I have put into my business, it’s a wonder how I haven’t burned out or given up. I realised quite early in my journey, that a tired, worn out, grumpy, stretched and even overstretched coach is hardly going to be a source of inspiration, energy and guidance to clients or to any of the people around me. Being organised was high on my to-do-list to enable me take good care of myself and my business.
My mother would always refer me as the ‘most organised person’ in the family. I was always the one organising social and birthday events and getting it all happening and sorted. I just thought that events got handballed to me because nobody else in the family wanted to do it. I have received comments and feedback from other small business owners and coaches who would ask me how I keep myself so organised and on track. Recently, I got a lovely email from a colleague who congratulated me on “being able to juggle so many things and always be so upbeat and successful in your business”. How interesting that what I think is my ordinary is what someone else thinks is extraordinary.
I have since come to appreciate and acknowledge that my skills in organisation have kept me moving successfully in my business and in my personal life. Being organised and productive doesn’t mean that I do it all; it just means I do it well.
After doing a review on how I improved getting more done in my business, here are some tips to help take you from ordinary to extraordinary.
1. Say no
Getting more organised and utilising your time better may mean saying no more often. It means saying no to something or someone that may be important to you. This is a tough one for those people who want to please everyone. We have to ascertain who or what comes into our space and decide. If you want to achieve more in your business, say yes to tasks that take you to where you are heading. Say yes to people who are aligned with you and your business. Learn to say no, or if you can’t say no, say ‘not yet’.
Just because you can do something that may not take up a lot of your time, doesn’t mean you should do it. Or, that you should do it now. Tasks or activities that has a low impact on your business and only takes up a little time, should be a not now. If it has a high impact on your business and it takes up a short amount of time then get it scheduled in your diary.
A good business principle that I am guided by is from a quote by David Allen that says: “You can do anything, not everything”.
2. Less distraction more action
When I was at school I was known for ‘getting easily distracted’. I enjoyed looking at the shiny thing over here and the shiny thing over there and would lose time with it. It got worse as I got older with so many more things coming at me at one time. I figured that I had to get better at getting rid of distractions if I wanted to achieve more in my business and in my personal life.
I did an audit on my day and my week and realised that I was distracted by email newsletters, personal phone calls, personal catch ups, browsing the internet for information and spending lots of time on social media. While you should be free to undertake personal tasks and activities, you must remember and understand the impact that it will have on your time and productivity and how it takes you away from your work. Do a time audit on your day or week and see how much time you spend doing tasks that are non-work or business related. You may be surprised with the results.
3. Schedule, schedule, schedule
I schedule myself in my diary like I schedule in an appointment with my client. I schedule a task in my diary so it’s there as a record and a reminder. This also ensures that I have allocated the time to do what I need to get done and get it complete within the time frame I have given myself. If you have a large project to get through, work with blocks of 30 days or in months and block out the time in your diary and have it scheduled just like any other appointment.
The key is to build the discipline to keep the appointment with yourself.
4. Ask for help
I wasted time on trying to work it out on myself and learn how to do stuff through the ‘help’ option on my computer or my favourite teacher – Mr Google. I have found that when I asked my network of people for help, they didn’t hesitate. If you are confused on how best to market yourself, speak to people who know. Not sure on how best to take care of your accounts, get in touch with people who do it every day.
When your business does not fire up and succeed at the pace you expect it to, you accept it because you think you are being bold to expect any more in the first place. You are wrong. You took a risk starting your own business with the desire to serve and give to others; then you deserve to succeed.
If you are uncertain on what to do next, get a coach or mentor to guide you.
5. Get rid of your excuses
I work from a home office, so it was easy to blame the telemarketers that rang during the day, or the family member who expected I ran their errands. Don’t blame anyone or anything for your lack of time or productivity. Once you own your results or the lack of completing your tasks, you will then be proactive rather than reactive to what you need to do. Time is available for everyone. It’s all about scheduling your time for what you value. Just like you make time to shower, eat, brush your teeth, you can make time to write your book, learn a new language or write that article.
6. Declutter your head, office, home and environment
I have a systemised, neat office with an uncluttered desk that I can see everything at a glance and have access to quickly. I don’t have notes everywhere and I make sure that I take a few minutes before I finish at the end of the day to clear off any papers or documents from the desk. It ends up looking pretty nice. I love it when I walk into my office the next day and everything I need is easy to find and I don’t have any down time. My day starts off having a clear mind and environment which brings has me organised and ready to go.
Decluttering frees up space, energy, and precious time that restores your focus so you can get more done. I read recently some stats on the topic of productivity that suggests that the average business person or employee spends 1.5 hours per day looking for things! That’s around 7.5 hours a week. What could you be doing instead?
I have a business principle for my office – there is a place for everything and everything has its place.
In my business, I have begun outsourcing tasks that I am not an expert in or that it not a direct revenue generating activity. I ask myself if it’s worth spending the time learning it or working it out myself and if the answer is no; I will outsource it. I have outsourced my website and my branding just to name a few. That way I can spend more time where my expertise lies in my business such as consulting, coaching, serving and giving to my clients. That is something I am not outsourcing. Your time equals your money. You are the one who bests decide on the amount of time you spend on tasks or activity in your business.
Another one of my business principle is one you you’ve heard before; work smarter not harder.
Being able to do it all efficiently and effectively means you need to learn new skills, strategies, routines and habits. Invest in courses or in people that can help enhance and upgrade your skills which will help your grow and soar in your business. You don’t need to a superhero to be successful in business. You can achieve a lot simply by deciding, scheduling it in and committing to it.