Do you feel totally disorganized? Like so bad that you can’t remember what you have accomplished today and you are falling behind or maybe staying the same… You really can’t be sure!?
If you are still reading then this resonates with you and there are two areas that you need to address. The first is to identify the time thieves in your daily routine. These seemingly little things are adding up to distract you and waste your time. Some of them come in the form of a disorganized desk that leaves you searching aimlessly for the tools you need to get the job done.
Others appear as forgotten steps in the opening and closing routines that cause you to start a task on one side of the building, only to have you return to the other side for a different task and back again. And other time thieves appear as long email threads that could have been completed in half the time with either a phone call or by utilizing a scheduling app. If this is you, try adding a link to Calendly below your email signature. The app is free and links directly to your desktop calendar.
IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM AREAS
I have a solution that will eliminate this stress in your current routine and will give you the information you need to create new routines that will set you up to get the most out of your time.
Bring a sheet of paper through your day and create a list of the areas, procedures and times that are frustrating you or wasting your time. The goal here is to identify the areas that could use some improvement.
I want you to start at the very beginning. Evaluate each portion of the day. When you walk into your workspace each day what are the first things that need to be done? Do you need to turn on the lights, power on your computer or do you need to stretch canvases? Whatever it is that you do to prepare your space for the day, write it down.
Business is not the place to be a hot mess.
Now that you have all of the pieces written down in front of you, group them into categories based on the time they are completed, level of necessity, and time wasters. Which steps cannot be avoided, which can be done in less time if the order of operations was changed and which can be completed at less productive times; freeing up valuable alert times? If you don’t know what those alert times are for you, take a look at this WORKSHEET.
ESTABLISH A ROUTINE
This routine will look different for each business. Find a rhythm that feels right for you. The rhythms and rituals that guide us through our day empower us or break us down.
Before I became a small business owner, I worked in the restaurant industry. If you have ever worked in the restaurant industry, you know that there is no better place to learn the importance of routines and proper timing. As a server, I learned that the opening and closing routines were a catalyst that set me up to dominate the floor or plummeted me into the worst shift in history.
There is no worse time to have to brew a pot of coffee or slice lemons, then when the tables are filling up and customers are looking to have their breakfast delivered. The prep work you put in during the calm hours of the morning and the settled hours at the end of the day, allowing you the time needed to be successful.
Here at ALC, the morning routine starts with a fresh pot of coffee and the Autumn Acoustic playlist on Spotify as my MacBook powers up. I review my project statuses in Dubsado and my Trello boards. This is how I get my bearings for the day before I get my girls dressed and ready for the day. Because I review my client accounts and to do lists digitally (thank you, Trello!) I am prepared to get started as soon as I return to my desk. I turn off the notifications and silence my phone for a 90-minute block. I will explain why soon.
TIP: As I work through my day, I update my Trello lists with the tasks I need to accomplish, resources I find that work, courses I am enrolled in and breadcrumbs to help me jump back if I leave a task before it is completed.
How can you make this system work for you?
Using the list you created earlier, identify what needs to be done for a successful day.
Power on the computers
Review your to-do list
Grab a cup of coffee (or tea if you prefer)
TIP: Set a time to check your emails and don’t look at your inbox before that time. That inbox is a rabbit hole that will eat away at your productive hours!
How you set up your daily routines depends on what times you are the most energetic. Learn your own circadian rhythm using the WORKSHEET created by Evernote.
I, personally, am the most focused and ready to accomplish the small business mountain around 9 am and later around 3p. Now that I know this, I set up 90-minute blocks (9-10: 30 am and 3-4: 30 pm) of uninterrupted time to accomplish the big things: design work and coding. In my not so alert times, I draft blog and social media posts, schedule calls with clients, and brainstorm new ideas.
PRODUCTIVITY IN YOUR BUSINESS
Once you have completed the worksheet linked above, you will have a general idea of when you are the most alert and most capable of getting the job done. Set your notifications to DO NOT DISTURB during these times and hit the books!
Evernote has an awesome article that will walk you through the steps of discovering your own circadian day. According to the research, our focus and energy levels run in 90-minute intervals. By identifying your own rhythm, you will be able to get the most out of your day.
Use your down times to accomplish the tasks that don’t require too much critical thinking, such as answering emails, invoicing, inventory, or straightening up your area.
For any portion of the day that is repeated daily, weekly, monthly, annually, create a workflow and print it out! This will set you up for success every time!
Write down each step as you do it for every single process. Do you write blog posts? What are the steps to complete that task? What are the tasks that need to be completed each day, month, or year to maintain your office space? What are the steps that need to be completed to before receiving clients? Do you have employees? What is your hiring process? Do you have an employee handbook? Do you know what to include in that employee handbook? (Message me, I can help you put all of the pieces together!)
By writing the steps down for each of these processes will help you identify how you can either save time doing them and recognize the tools needed to delegate the tasks and allow you to move on to another task.