Preparation is key
Taking time at the beginning and end of your day to make sure everything is in order and you know what’s coming tomorrow is a vital part of good organisation. Just 10 minutes at the end of the day allows you to look at your diary and see what’s ahead of you. You can then make sure you have tickets, meeting information, directions and everything else you need to get on with the day.
And if you’re in the office all day, take that time at the beginning of the morning to catch up on what needs to be done, what needs to be prepared for and what you might need to delegate to others. That way, you’re not playing catch-up, and there should be no big surprises.
To help with this, why not make sure you keep a day each week free of meetings and calls? It might feel like a big ask – especially as we are now so readily available on video calls, but having a clear day means you can give yourself some dedicated time so you can focus on key tasks like clearing your emails, finalising reports or doing some planning.
Think about a small business assistant
Many of the things that take up your time every day could easily be done by someone else. Someone whose time isn’t as expensive as yours, and someone who has the skills to manage those tasks quickly and efficiently. A business assistant, whether an employee or an outsourced expert, can handle those tasks that just take up too much of your time, leaving you free to concentrate on the things that you really need to do – pitching for business, talking to customers, finding new prospects and developing your product or service. The things an assistant could cover for you include:
- Telephone answering
- Diary and email management
- Sales and marketing admin support
All of these support tasks will make your everyday working life easier. They can also help you to prioritise your tasks – those tasks that are the most important. And don’t confuse ‘important’ and ‘urgent’. This is a classic productivity trap where you do things because they feel urgent rather than because they are the most important things to do. Try and place tasks in a list or priority order and hand off the other stuff to someone else.
Turn off distractions
You’ll get things done faster if there are no distractions. Go through your emails first thing in the morning and then turn them off for the next hour whilst you get something else done. Instead of checking your emails every time your phone pings or your screen flashes, you will be able to concentrate on the task in hand – you’ll not only be more productive; your work will probably be of a higher quality.
The same applies to your phone – turn it off or put it onto silent so that you don’t get interrupted. People who call you will leave a message, and you can get back to them when you have the time to respond properly. Chopping and changing from one task to another means that nothing gets done properly.
Delegate to a meeting organiser
Meetings might sound like simple affairs to organise, but often they are complicated and things change at the last minute. Internal meetings might be OK, but external ones with several attendees need attention. It can take time to get in touch with everyone, coordinate responses, book rooms, food and equipment and prepare agendas and paperwork. If someone is taking care of this, you can make sure you’re focused on the content, format and results of the meeting, rather than the practicalities.
Of course, there’s no shortage to the tasks you can outsource to other qualified and experience support services. Take the time to note down the tasks that you either find too time-consuming or you know you don’t have the skills to do, and find someone who can help. This will allow you to focus on the right parts of your business instead of getting bogged down trying to do everything yourself.
There are lots of ways that technology can help you to manage your day-to-day working life more efficiently. For example, project management tools like Trello, Asana, Slack and Basecamp allow people to collaborate and organise projects quickly and easily. You can assign actions, set deadlines, monitor progress and keep everything on track without having to send dozens of emails, make hundreds of calls or arrange unnecessary meetings. And a simple online organiser diary can help everyone in the office keep track of who’s in and who’s out – at a glance. Likewise, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp help you to keep in touch with your team instantly.
And you could try a low-tech approach too – one that’s no less effective. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique. Using a timer, work uninterrupted for 25 minutes. Then use the next 5 minutes to take a break, stretch, get some water or check your emails and calls. Then put the timer back on and do another 25 minutes. Ideally, you take a longer break of 15-20 minutes after four Pomodoro sessions. It’s a good stretch of time to get working productively, and the breaks give you a useful change of perspective and help you to feel that you’re still staying on top of things. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique because the person who developed it, Italian student Francesco Cirillo, used a Pomodoro – or tomato – timer.
Introduce some of these simple solutions into your business and you’ll feel more productive and be more productive. What’s more, you’ll bring the rest of your business along with you and, instead of being a neglectful to do list organiser, you’ll be efficient, effective and in control of your working day. Every day.
If you’re short on time and need help with organising your regular tasks so you’re able to get on with the job, free to call us on 0800 994 9016 or use our contact form in the menu above.