Our blog this month has been written by Amy Milchard from Pink Spaghetti Sheffield & Surrounds. It first appeared in the South Yorkshire edition of mmbmagazine.co.uk.
I have spent my career organising MD’s and business owners’ workloads to allow them to do what they do best. Now I cover both sides, I’m doing what I do to support business growth for others, while also mastering and developing my own business!
Luckily being super busy and super productive is perfectly possible if you master a few tricks to keep on top of what’s bubbling away, knowing what needs attention, what is a do right now and what is a keeping it ticking task. Most of all knowing I am doing things which will yield results is what keeps me focused.
It’s totally human and very easy to have an off day where you feel busy but unproductive. That happens to everyone! But if it’s how you feel all the time, you can step back and make a few small changes to your approach and start to hold the reins again. I’ve come up with a few of the most important principles in my experience in my ten minute hack to change your business life.
To make any plan effective the first lesson is managing yourself. You can’t do it successfully unless you know, accept and like yourself! Don’t fight yourself because you won’t win. There are things you can improve, bad habits you can drop but what makes you intrinsically you is fortunately, exactly how you’re meant to be. If you know you are not a morning person don’t plan those upbeat sales calls for the morning. Do check your receipts, social media notifications, book travel arrangements, read one useful article. Play to your strengths.
Know Your strengths
Are you an amazing networker? Do you get more business face to face? If so you need time to be out in the field. You do not need to be doing admin or figuring out how to do your end of year tax return, you can find an expert to do that for you.
Are you a whizz on social media or do you see more sales coming in through your website? If so, then online is where you need to spend your time. If not, someone who loves those tasks will almost certainly cost less given the time it takes you to do it!
Do you see where I am going with this? Often when we start out in business we are overwhelmed with paperwork, IT systems that we’ve been recommended, social media, sales, accounts, and we try to be a jack of all trades. Know what your strengths are and make sure you’re using them the majority of the time.
The Infamous To-Do List
Get some organisation and structure in your week. Whatever role you are in – or even in life, make sure you know what your main tasks are in the week ahead. Choose your tools but your diary should block out time for appointments and for completing tasks.
Be specific. State the specific tasks or pieces of work you will do in those blocks of time and stick to it. It keeps you accountable rather than presuming you’ll pick the right job when you get there! It’s way too easy to fall into the trap of working reactively. Sooner or later that leads to chaos and firefighting.
The guiding principle is assigning the right task to the right time slot so that you are as efficient as possible.
A good way to ensure you are prioritising tasks well is matching the task to the time you have. Start with a master to-do list, then update and reorganise it regularly into tasks by type, for example sub lists of calls, emails, projects (anything that you can’t finish in one go). Using the diary as I just explained, match the tasks to the length of the gaps they need. Watch how quickly they get ticked off!
Secondly be honest. There are tasks that will develop your business or convert to sales, and tasks that can wait. Make sure you know what the focus of your week is and that you are prioritising those tasks above others. Don’t get caught up spending too much time on tasks that will not yield results.
Trust that if you get to a point where you have business coming in, but back office tasks or domestic duties are taking up too much time, you can quickly outsource many of these tasks. Outsource your basics to allow you to work on your business not in it and enjoy your spare time! Ironing basket rivalling the Leaning Tower of Pisa? The price of having someone come in for an hour or two a week is cheaper than you might expect. Social Media accounts looking lost and lonely? Speak to someone who can help.
Turn OFF Your email
Yes you heard me right! How many times do you check your email a day, how many tasks do you let it interrupt or distract you from? It’s a really tough one but accessing your email 3 times a day rather than dipping in and out will yield amazing results. You’re probably not aware how much time it takes away from you working on your business. When you’re doing a task that’s important to you, you have the right to be as unavailable as you are when you’re in a meeting.
Over to you. Maybe choose just one tip and for the next month really stick to it to see how much difference it starts to make. I’d love to hear how it went!