Creating More Time
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could create more time? Hit pause and stop the world while we complete our to-do list (or lists)? While I wish that (or a Back to the Future style time machine) were possible, it simply isn’t. So, what do you do to stretch the hours in your work day? How do you determine where to focus your attention when you have limited time?
Prioritizing tasks is easier than it sounds. Everything has to get done eventually, right? But once you’ve handled the tasks that directly relate to your customers and customer service, how do you decide what gets moved to the top of the list?
Purchase a dry-erase board. Put it on your office wall, and then separate the board into four categories—urgent, not urgent, important, and not important.
Start and end your day by prioritizing each item on your to-do list into these categories. Then, you know exactly where to begin. Start with the items that are urgent, then move to those things that are important. Once you’ve conquered those items, then it’s time to move on to the items that aren’t urgent and lastly, those that are unimportant.
Focus on Prevention
Spending your time putting out fires is quite dissatisfying and time-consuming. If you’re spending a lot of time working on the urgent list because it holds fire after fire, it’s time to rethink things.
Instead of focusing on putting out fires, take time to put systems in place to prevent any possible fires. It takes a little time to setup, and you will need to make adjustments as new situations arise, but once you’ve put the work in you’ll be saving yourself time later.
Take a look at the communication process you’ve set up for your team. Is it easily accessible? Is it efficient or does it eat their time? And do you have clear communication expectations outlined?
Start with customer intake. How do you proceed with a new customer? Make sure no one drops the ball by outlining the expected process each new customer needs to go through. Then, assign responsibility. Maybe add a 10-minute meeting to the end of every day so you can check in with your team to make sure that nothing urgent has gone uncompleted.
Or, if you’re a one-person operation, take a different approach. First, don’t skip this step. Expect to forget things. Expect to lose track of where you are with a certain contract or client. You are human. So, prepare for your own humanity.
Outline the typical process that each client will go through. Start a spreadsheet or create tasks in your preferred tracking software. Check each step off your list as you complete it. Then you’ll never have to wonder whether you followed up or not.
Once your work for your customers is handled and you’ve created systems to make sure things are running smoothly, it’s time to focus on continuing to grow and develop your business. Take a look at networking events in your area. Pick a few events and commit to going.
The most important part of this step is to write down the meeting you just committed to attending. Write it down! Put it in your calendar. Set a reminder.
Once you’ve chosen a few networking meetings, go and look for a group that approaches business in a manner that aligns with your personal approach.
Also, don’t forget to connect with your local chamber of commerce. Networking locally is invaluable. We are naturally drawn to working with others within our area. Take advantage of that tendency by meeting other business owners in the area.
Prioritize the hardest tasks first. Finish those things that you don’t enjoy doing. Get them done and mark them off your list. As a reward for your hard work, you can then move on to a task you really enjoy. By getting the worst task off your plate, your productivity will soar.
I talk about time-blocking more in depth here, but I’m bringing it up again. Set aside time for certain tasks. Decide that between 8 and 10 a.m. on Wednesdays, for example, that you will update your accounting. Decide that this is the time that you will reconcile transactions and your balance.
Make time for growing as an entrepreneur by time-blocking for learning. Choose a time and day to read the latest articles on topics that directly relate to your business. Stay up-to-date on industry standards.
Time and money are your two most valuable assets with any business. You can’t create revenue without time. If you find yourself consistently stuck on the urgent category of your list, then it’s time to hire help. You have to be able to move through the urgent to the important or else everything will eventually become urgent. Or worse, you’ll miss out on opportunities.
Before you begin looking for help, sit down and evaluate your day-to-day operations. What do you do consistently that could be easily explained to someone else? What are the items that do not need your personal attention? Could you hand off tasks to someone else to complete if that person can easily report back to you?
Think about it. Consider the things, both personal and professional, that you can let go of.
Do you find yourself in a feast or famine situation with your business often? You complete several large projects only to realize there’s nothing in the queue. Typically, this is because you’ve buried yourself in your projects, ignoring tasks that are related to nurturing leads, networking, and business growth. So, by the time you’ve finished a project, nothing is lined up to continue.
By hiring a virtual assistant, you are not only freeing up your time, but you’re also allowing yourself room to keep your business growing consistently.
So, find a virtual assistant who can take of those tasks that don’t need your personal attention. Start during a time when you aren’t frantic so you can spend time communicating all of your needs to your new assistant. Then, enjoy as you see blocks of time open up to be filled with tasks that will have a greater impact on your business growth.
Signature Virtual Assistance is a full-service virtual assistance firm, helping businesses like yours with virtually every need. Business owners and entrepreneurs choose Signature Virtual Assistance to free up their time, reduce their stress, and accelerate their business growth. Contact Lorie today.