As I write this, the UK has been plunged into another Lockdown and there are parents up and down the country pulling their hair out. Homeschooling is back on and lots of small business owners are finding that the juggle is real! Obviously these events affect all businesses big or small but it’s the parental juggle with work that can cause lots of stress for many. So with that in mind, I thought I’d put together five quick productivity tips to get you out of a tight spot if you are trying to do it all.
I work with lots of different clients within the same day and the tasks vary in length and skill level. So these are just a few of the ways that help me to stay calm and get the job done (sometimes when my brain is telling me the exact opposite).
This isn’t Normal – Do What You Can
Ok I know that’s not a tip as such but it is worth remembering that you are doing your best. Also other small business owners are also doing their best…we are all doing our best and that’s all we can do. So try not to operate your business as if it was normal – if anything make a list of everything you do normally and then pick out the essentials for your business. Focusing on getting those done in a day will help your mindset and your business move forward.
Make sure your environment is conducive to doing the work too, a while back I was so busy that my desk became a dumping grown and I found I spent a proportion of my day shuffling things around so I could work. Once I realised, I took a fifteen minute power strike (where I put music on and don’t stop until the timer rings) and got the desk clear of all clutter, I lit a candle and made a coffee. Then it made it easier to work because I actually wanted to be there.
Automate If You Can
So there are lots of ways to automate your work flow – from putting a signature in your email with your work times / link to book an appointment or how to contact you…all the way to a welcome email sequence. There are lots of ways to help you cut corners in this topsy turvy world we’ve found ourselves in.
There are lots of ‘all in one’ systems too that you can use like Dubsado or Simplero which your customers can make payment on and you can set up a system of emails and actions to move them through a flow without even having to give it a second thought. This is great if you are product based but also works if you use an integration like Zapier and connect if you are service based – you can get a contract sent out and signed easily so that you meet the client/customer at the point your personal service is required.
Let Technology Help You
If you don’t use a system such as Trello or Asana then I’d very much recommend it. You can put all the tasks on a board (with times, dates they need doing by and as much description as you need) then you can move these around or tick them off once completed. It takes a little forward effort of getting it all on there but it up your productivity as you can see at a glance what needs doing straight away (you can even put a time next to them so you know how long it will take).
Also making sure you schedule certain tasks for when you are at your most productive helps. This all depends on whether you are a morning person or afternoon workaholic…and only you will know what’s best. For me, getting up at the crack of dawn won’t work as my brain isn’t in gear yet but give me an afternoon into the evening and I can work my heart out and get into the zone.
This might be a little more work if you are homeschooling or the like but it works so well. Either work alongside another business owner (a friend could also work) and set yourself a time limit and what you are going to do – so it could be ’11am I’m going to write an email’ either tell them via a message or get yourselves on zoom at the allotted time. Then give yourself 30 mins to get it done without distraction (so if you are on zoom then you are on mute…not having a 20 minute chat and realising you’ve used all the time up!). At the end unmute yourself and confirm what you’ve got done.
If you do identify a business buddy it’s great to use them as a sounding board (and someone to offload on to) and it makes you feel less alone too. Sharing your successes and goals will help you stay focused too.
Take a Break
I know…seems counterproductive when you are trying to do what seems like A Level Maths with your six year old as well as juggle a full time job. But taking a break makes you more productive – you know that feeling like you are wading through treacle or you keep reading the same sentence over and over in a report…yeah well that’s the point your brain is screaming for a break – so take one.
A fifteen minute break where you can take your head outside of the situation will help – so concentrating on your breathing helps too. Even if this is just you sticking your head out of the nearest window…it will help. Regular short breaks will help you regain more brain power to tackle the big tasks.
Help I’m Struggling!
If none of these strategies help and you are still drowning in work and general life stuff then think about what you can do next. It may be that you need to scale back for a while and refocus on just one area of what you do – or it could be time to think about outsourcing either the things you don’t love or the bits that take you far too long (and you know what those are!!!! For me it’s accounting and numbers – it actually brings me out in hives just thinking about it all.
There will either be a Virtual Assistant who specialises in that area of work or another freelancer such as graphic designers, coaches or accountants who can take the load off for you. So don’t fear passing your work over, do research and find the best fit for you and then the time you save get put to good use. You deserve it.
If you’d like to chat about how we can work together then drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I also have lots of lovely contacts in other fields if you need them too.