Just another day in the grind. Do you find yourself saying, “I’m just too busy”? Being busy is a good thing in business, right?
Many clients want us to spread some magic dust to grow their business. They’re hoping a website will act as a second set of hands in their already too busy work week. Truth be told, they are busy focusing their time on tasks that could be almost eliminated with just a few “tweaks” to their process.
The key is planning.
If you are saying to yourself, “how is planning going to further me and decrease my workload” …. “that sounds like just adding one more thing for me to do.” Stick with me and I’ll explain.
When I started in business I fell into some of the common pitfalls of the business world. If you were to look at how I put together my lists in those starting years, they would look something like this:
- Call Tony about the heating
- Call Susan about the Perkins project
- Work on proposal for the ABF project
Here is how they look now:
- Call Tony have him order the part for the furnace; get an appointment scheduled for him to install it. 555-222-2222
- Call Susan Ask her to complete the form for the Perkins Project; ask her when you can expect that by. 555-333-3333
- Finish the ABF proposal by adding the timeline.
I started setting goals, not just tasks. The key came with being more specific; scheduling and assigning tasks. Now when I complete a task it is finished, then I am off to the next task.
There is less chance for things to be forgotten. When it’s done, it’s truly done!
Moving forward with this skill set eliminated those crazy office meetings to talk about scheduling a planning meeting. If that confuses you, just think how the people in those “beatings” errrrr “meetings” felt about it.
I like to use the application google tasks. It just depends on your preferences, but the importance lies in the specificity of the tasks to move you forward toward your end goal.
You want something done from start to finish not just started. If you are unable to complete a task move it forward to the next day, or go even further with it and break it down into smaller pieces.
This allows you to remove the finished piece but keeping the project with a forward momentum.
Have you ever been emailed by someone asking when you have time to meet? Really! There is so much technology out there to maximize accomplishments and minimizing “Busy Work”.
A great example of this is Calendly . Through these services, my clients are able to view my openings for appointments through an embedded link in email communications or online. Then, the client can to schedule appointments at their convenience.
This minimizes frustrations on the part of the client due to the common “Ping-Pong” process between emails or voice messages. It keeps me from constant interruptions in the design process allowing me to take on more paying clients. Now, I’m able to give them a satisfying experience through my firm.
These applications and services are available all over the web that you can apply and use with your business. It’s worth the time of investigating their possible uses in your business as well.
Clear all distractions
(Well, as many as you can anyway.)
If you are anything like me, I use to keep my email open all day. That is a distraction. Set a few times a day you check your email, other than that keep it closed.
Do you have a DND button on your phone? Use it! Getting calls all day is another distraction.
Now, I know some of you will say, “I make money by being on the phone.” That was always my excuse too. I must be able to talk to my clients or I won’t have any clients.
I didn’t say don’t do your job. I said turn on your Do Not Disturb on while you are doing work that does not require you to accept calls. They came up with this great thing called voicemail, you can call them back once you are finished with your task.
If your office phone is a cell phone like so many are nowadays, some allow you to set a DND for a set period of time. Those are nice to have. But we still must remember to use it. There’s so much technology today it too can be a distraction.
Use only what you need to become efficient and leave the rest for after work.
Accept multitasking is a myth
It’s not real and you can’t do several things at once with any level of efficiency that will accomplish a task quickly. The time it takes you to do a task is not shortened by multitasking; it’s lengthened (If you are even able to complete it).
My father always told me if something is worth doing, it is worth doing right. In short, focus on the task at hand and finish it, then move on to the next task. That’s how you get things done and do them right the first time. When you multitask, you make mistakes and the results are less likely to be an acceptable outcome.
Scheduling your time is key
Having a plan ensures you have goals set and you can measure how productive your day was. If you can’t measure your performance, you can’t improve. Thus, you’re still just busy being busy and not ever get anything done.
“Failure to plan, is the same as planning to fail.” Benjamin Franklin
Not planning is like jumping into the car and driving to Texas without a map. (unless of course, you live in Texas). With no map, it’s far more difficult to reach your destination. It’s the same as going through your day without a plan
Don’t be afraid to say no.
Have you ever had an employee, customer, boss, or college say “hey, ya got a minute?” Your answer should be no, but I’ll call you later to schedule a meeting with me and we can discuss what you need.
The fact is they already interrupted you and taken more than a minute. Plus, it will take you about 15 of them to get back to what you were doing.
Let people know if your door is closed, then yes you are busy and you don’t have that minute. Let them schedule a meeting to talk about whatever it is they are trying to do.
Saying no is not a bad thing. It allows you to stay focused on the things you need to accomplish and you remain a champion of your time. It stops you from over-extending yourself and falling back into the myth that if you multitask you can fit more in.
Set expectations in the beginning as it makes it easier to manage expectations later.
If you let your clients know you do not take phone calls outside of your regularly scheduled calls, they know it will go to voicemail. Of course, you’ll get back to them, but you can’t always be on the other end of the phone or you won’t complete your work.
I am sure that same client would not like it is you were working on something for them, but you ended up taking a call from another client.
Letting people know what to expect is also key to your success, it keeps your clients happy, it keeps you from being busy just to keep busy, & you are able to accomplish more with your time.
So in closing, if you find yourself busy, then you need to stop what you are doing and make a plan they put it into action, that way you will get things done. Don’t forget to use these tips, putting them into action and following a plan will free up a lot of time.