Is your to-do list effective?

Is your to-do list effective?We all have them, they are dotted all around my house and office, but the question is how effective are they? Are they serving their purpose or are then hindering you more than you realise?
See on their own the whole concept is great, but often we do not use them to their potential!

The aim 

List writing is really easy to do yet can be so tricky to get the hang of, we all have a habit of scribbling down the things that pop into our minds on a piece of paper, or a new log if using an online system, but doing this we are not giving it a second thought, I know some of my entries will have a handful of words that mean something when writing it, but hour or days later I haven’t a clue!
And here is one of the problems, we are not being clear, concise and logical.

A few do’s and Don’ts 

Mix it up – don’t throw all those horrid jobs at the end of the list, as we all know by the time we get to the end of the list, it is either too late or you really can’t be bothered. Remember ‘DFT’ that I mentioned in my previous blog, use that time to push through those horrid jobs on your to-do list

Keep it visible – keeping it somewhere in view will help you stay focused on the job in hand, make sure that you review your list regularly too, don’t bury it and then not being able to find it, then having to start a new one, have it pinned somewhere you can get to it quickly.

Larger tasks – it is so easy to put something like “social media” on your list, but in fact that is a massive task, and probably when broken down its several tasks, try and break down the larger tasks into smaller, easier tasks, this way you will be able to cross this off quickly, as opposed to never or taking longer to cross off, which in turn just demoralises you. So put “Facebook posts” “Participate in a twitter hour” “run a competition” see that way you will cross those 3 things off yet you may have more to do another day.

Not everything needs to be done in a day – remember Rome wasn’t business in a day, so create your list to run over a week, then you can run those bigger tasks over the week, but still be able to cross things off as the week goes on.

Finally, find a list system that works for you, there are thousands of options out there, from pens and pads, Apps, books, list pads, you name it there is a system. Find what works for YOU!! By all means grab snippets from other people you speak to, in fact, you could incorporate bits from others into your own system. It’s what works for you.

I have tried loads, but for me currently, I use my Outlook calendar, in here I have a list of things that need doing, they are colour coded by client, and they are given a date of when it needs to be done by as well as a % of job done option.

This currently works for me, but I am always looking at new ways, once you have found your way, don’t be frightened to mix it up in the future if you feel it is going a little stale.

Let me know what way you have chosen to try out.

If you are struggling to stay on top of things, why not have a chat with me, I am happy to discuss outsourcing and how I can help you gain back sometime during your week.  Check out my latest freebie HERE

 

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Getting the most out of your day

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Being a business owner is great, I love it, it is so rewarding, I work around my little family, get to do the school engagements, homework and make memories with them.

So, hands up all those that have fun trying to fit everything into their working day! Yep ME, I sometimes open my diary on Monday and think ‘What the heck’ and I can feel myself going into overdrive, but we need to remember we are human! We can only do what we can with the time we have.

National Stationery Week (honest)

I have found some useful hacks to get me through those hectic weeks.  See I am a tech loving gal, but I do adore my stationary, a little apt as its National Stationary week this week, (it really is a thing check it out HERE), I do love writing things down, and trust me I have written down notes, keywords for this blog that you are reading now, before I drafted it and posted it to my website. No matter how much I try to move everything to electronic, my inner child just loves going into a stationary shop and buying lush books, pens and other amazing bits and bobs for my desk.

So here are a few hacks that I use to stay in control and get the most out of my work day:

  • I plan my week on Friday before, or latest on Sunday
  • Block out any long-standing commitments, I have 2 of these in my working week, and they are blocked out on my electronic diary and my desk diary every week, so I know that Tuesday 9.30-11.00 and Thursday 9.30-11.30 each week are blocked out regardless, I know I cannot book anything in during those times. So I work my other tasks around those times. I also know that I have the school run to do so that is blocked out.
  • Highlight ‘DFT’ Distraction Free Time, this is the time when all pings, dings and notifications are banished, use this time for when you NEED to have your head down with NO distractions, so turn off your phone, don’t open certain apps and programs. Imagine you are heading into a cave lol – I wrote about it HERE in a previous blog.
  • Colour coding, for me each of my clients has a colour code, this way it’s easy to see in my diary, who is blocked in where and when, but equally my business has a colour too, and I make sure that I give myself equal time to market and promote my business, as well as my own admin/finances etc.
  • Use systems to optimise your productivity, I use Trello and Canva, both are incredible in their own right, Trello is my go to program that holds all my social media content past and future, ideas, helpful information like Hashtags, advertising rules for Facebook groups etc, and Canva helps me create amazing images and Memes in a heartbeat.
  • Find tools that will aid you in progressing your business but not suck up all your time. Social Media alone is one of the biggest time suckers out there, we have all been there, nip on for 2 mins and bang 1hr gone, so use tools like Hootsuite etc to schedule in your daily/weekly posts, I do this every Friday for my content and my clients work, that way I don’t have to worry about it each day, and I haven’t lost stupid amounts of time on social media
  • Timer, I work with a timer, not only for my client work but for me too, I have noticed that as soon as I click on that go button, my procrastination waivers a little and find I am more productive knowing my timer is going. Before I used this I would happily waste time on what I thought was useful but turns out I was unproductive to my business.
  • Visible clock, again I have mentioned this before, you need to have a visible clock in your office, you need to be aware of the time you have left on that particular day, and if a task is taking too long, then schedule it for first thing the following day, give yourself a break from it. I have noticed since having a clock in my office I am more aware of my day, crazy I know but for me, it has really worked.
  • Set an alarm, remember you are not a 24/7 business, you have to eat, sleep, relax and do things you enjoy, you need to remember those office hours, if you do not have office/working hours in place, I urge you to set some this week. And make sure you stick to it. Can you imagine being in your old employed job and your boss tells you that you never log off!!!

These are just a few small hacks I have found very useful to my business, I hope they help you if you have any of your own do share them with us.

Get in touch

If it is becoming apparent that you are struggling to stay on top of your day to day tasks, and you are finding you are having less time to do those things that pull in the money, then why not get in touch, would love to have a chat and see if I can help you. You can connect here

 

Chat soon,

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Are you a habit creature?

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Habits

We have all read those articles where they tell you ‘wake up at 5 am to become a millionaire’  or ‘drink a green smoothie to become successful’ – I think I have at least one of these articles in my inbox each week, telling me what I need to be doing to become a successful business owner.

Now I can tell you I DO NOT get up at 5 am, that to me is still the middle of the night, and I personally don’t like anything green to eat or drink so a green smoothie will never pass my lips. Ok I can tell you now I am not a millionaire nor would I say I was hugely successful (yet!).  What I can tell you, is, my business is producing a wage and I am comfortable.

pinch of salt

I personally don’t think these lists of what you should do, will benefit you in that way, I think you need to read them with a pinch of salt and to use them to perfect your routines, to make you more productive and focused.  I think it is great to read these articles and ones alike to see if anything they do could fit into your lifestyle and business routine if it doesn’t then move on.

I believe in normal ‘Sleep and Food’ – I feel eating and sleeping better does improve your productivity levels, whether this will, in turn, you into a millionaire who knows! We all know that when you was based in an office that Friday afternoon slump would kick in about an hour after you and your work colleagues got back from the pub, you know after that massive burger and chips you ate! I know from experience that massive lunch would turn me into the most UNPRODUCTIVE person ever.

Pub burger and chips = unproductive

I also feel that a healthy balance of exercise will help you towards a more productive week. Mixing that with your sleep and food, you should see a massive difference to your attention span during the week.

But none of these things I don’t feel will make you more successful nor do I think will make you a millionaire, these will help you to move forward and become the best you can be, and if that means it helps you create more business, then great, but I do wish these gurus would stop telling us these quick and sure-fire habits will fast track you to success.

You are the reason you are successful, you are the reason your clients what to work with you, not because you have a green smoothie on your desk!

To be honest, if you eat healthily, you exercise regularly, and sleep well you should see huge results in your productivity, use that to your advantage if you find you have more umpfh then use it to benefit you and the business.

So don’t be fooled with all the habits and routines that famous business owners are doing, as that works for them, remember running a business is not a one size fits all.  You need to find the routine and habit that works for you and your business.

Right I am off to munch on some random piece of food that has become fashionable

 

Chat soon folks

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Find your…..Self discipline

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Dig Deep

Being a business owner comes with many hats and guises, you have to dig deep to get done what you have to get done, and even deeper when it’s something you just don’t want to do.  Have you found yourself writing list upon list of things that you have to get done on a certain day/week? I know I have and have often failed to cross much off due to daily distractions.

If you are lucky enough to be working away from home, then those distractions maybe less (I say maybe in a light tone), I know for me I work from home, and I use to have a million distractions in my working day, from my online shopping being delivered, the odd person who sees my car on the drive and pops in for a cuppa as I’m home (forgetting that my home is my office), housework, and the biggest distraction is the kids! I am fortunate enough now to have my office out in the garden, so I am away from those daily household distractions.

I now have my set working hours each day of the week, and I now have a set period of time each week that is focussed on my business, but as you know working from home you can’t help yourself but get distracted.  

This is where self-discipline comes into play, what can you do to stop yourself being distracted, how do you get that discipline into your working life?

Have a coffee and jot some notes

So grab a pen, pad and a coffee, here are some tips to help you:

* ‘Distraction Free Time’ Try and block 20mins a day, or better still 20 mins in the morning and 20 mins in the afternoon, set that time as pure DFT time, turn your phone to silent, turn off the programs you are not using, those pings and little red notification dots are hugely distracting, and one that needs to be removed from your DFT block.  It’s something about your phone and those notifications that can waste a lot of your working day.  So for this time that you block out its best to remove the temptation.

* ‘Natural productive time’ everyone has it, I am not a morning person, if my children wake me too early I go green! so setting my alarm to wake before the kids to do work it’s just not in my DNA, but I am a late person, so for me my most productive time of the day is evenings, I find that knowing the kids are fed and in bed, we have had dinner, there are no further distractions (apart from The Walking Dead!), so I know that its head down and get on with my work.  This is MY natural productive time, I do however get lots done when they are at school.  But my content is normally written of an evening when my productive time is at its best.  So you need to find out when you are at your most productive! you might be that person that does love that hour before the house wakes up if so you need to incorporate it into your working day.

* Procrastination! Ok, I am going to jump outside the box on this one, and instead of saying it’s bad it’s this and it’s that, I will simply say embrace it! Shock Horror!!!!!! why embrace it, well I find that if you can pinpoint what it is that makes you procrastinate, once you have figured out why you can almost learn how to deal with it.  For an example, I hate anything accounts based, so I often find when I’m sat here having to do that type of work it takes me much longer to do it, I keep trying to put it off, in hope that the accounts fairy will come along swish her wand and hey presto it’s done or failing that tomorrow it will become more appealing, which sadly neither happens.

We all procrastinate

 

So I have now learnt to schedule it into either my DFT or do it during the evening when I’m at my peak of productivity.  Don’t shy away from those jobs that make you the world’s greatest procrastinator! We are all procrastinators, it happens to all of us at some point during our week.  If they are jobs you have to do find the best time to do them, or failing that outsource!!

Ready to outsource?

* As I happened to mention ‘Outsource’ this is something else that can benefit you and your self-discipline, if you can offload work to someone else this will free up your time to do what you are good at in your business, but you have to be disciplined to outsource, you need to figure out what is taking up too much of your time, and find someone you can outsource to like a VA, but you need to be strong and let that person do what you have given them!!!

If you are wanting to outsource but haven’t a clue where to start, then check out my free download, this gives you the top things to ask a potential Virtual Assistant, we know what it’s like when you get on the phone, those questions vanish, and when you hang up you remember! 


Be strong, stay focused and remember this is your business, run it the way you want to run it, but get the best out of your time, hopefully, some of the above tips may help.

What tips would you offer a new business owner? what have you found has worked for you? Leave a comment below you never know it may just help a newbie in their self-employment dream.

Take care

Claire

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