Yvonne Weld, President
Can you believe the holidays are just around the corner? Finding the time for shopping, attending parties and spending more time with family can be a challenge for some of us as entrepreneurs. For this reason I love that this issue is all about Time Management.
Time management used to be a huge issue for me. I was that person who would leave everything until the last minute. Even in school I was notorious for staying up the night before a big assignment was due into the wee hours trying to get something done. Every time I would say to myself next time I am not going to wait so long, but the next time I was right there again!
I quickly learned when I started this business I couldn't be this person anymore if I wanted to be successful. So with the help of a business coach and through some of my online research and attending teleclasses, I set up a few systems to ensure I could give up my procrastinating ways and manage my time much better. Today I wanted to share my top 3 ways:
- Have set office hours – I am not saying I never work outside these hours, but I have set office hours in a week where I am working on my business. For me my family knows from 8am-5pm Monday to Friday I work. Yes I often will take a morning off to do something with one of my kids, but that means working later that night. However for the most part sticking to set office hours has helped me to stay on track.
- Chunk your time – I have set up a lot of email rules and boundaries with my clients so I am able to focus on one individual client at a time. I find I use my time better when I work on several small projects for one client at one time than several small projects for several clients. Each client has a devoted part of my week depending on their needs and I set that schedule every Monday morning.
- Prioritize your day/week – As much as I set my schedule on Monday mornings I also understand things can come up from time to time. So when I am setting my weekly schedule as above I allow some time for "emergencies" that may come up. Each morning I look at my day and make sure my priorities are being met. I myself like to allow myself a window for tasks and live by the underpromise and overdeliver rule. If I think something can be done by Friday I will often say I will have it to the client by Monday so I can build time into it for unexpected emergencies. Then when the client does have the project by Friday they are extremely happy and I am not stressed.
I hope these tips as well as some of the tips shared by our writers this month will help you with your time management and have you working more effectively and efficiently!
A warm welcome to all our new members this month:
Shaun Williams, Anna Galushkina, B Joyce Garnes, Melinda Helm, Shyri Butler, Debra Mason, LaKesa Inge, Kathleen McHenry, Sydina Williams, Taryn Merrick, Racquel Newman, Scott Norton, Tobie Beck, Karissa Jones, Rachel Clark, Jackie Demski
To be successful drink your morning coffee without email
By Christine Bearse
I recently heard something that has changed how I start my day and ultimately how much more I can accomplish towards achieving my goals. You ready for this? Brendon Burchard, #1 New York Times bestselling author and personal development speaker, says that the last thing we should do when we enter our office in the morning is open our inbox and start reading emails. When I heard that my first thought was, "He has no idea, that would never work in my business." When I heard the logic behind it, I was willing to try it. He says, "Your email inbox is everyone else's agenda."
So, why does he say that? I started thinking about it, when I open my emails oftentimes at least 75% is from email lists I subscribe to or unsolicited junk mail. Those particular emails are either asking me to buy something or click on a great free resource that is going to help me. So, being the always-eager-to-learn business owner that I am, I may spend quite a bit of time going down these rabbit holes until I refocus and get back to work.
The next type of emails are requests from people to answer questions or take care of something small. They seem harmless, so instead of work on the big project I know I need to do, I shift my focus to these fun, easy tasks. And can anyone relate to this, they are never as quick and easy as I think they are going to be. Next thing I know I am Googling an answer and lead to yet a couple more interesting rabbit holes.
The last type of emails are the ones that I have been waiting for. They are answers to my questions or the returned contracts, etc. So what does Brendon say we should do before we read our email each day? He suggests we create a to do list with all OUR priorities on it. We first list the projects we need to work on in order to move our businesses forward or bring in income. We then make a list of people we are waiting for answers from and people we need to reach out to in order to complete our work. He suggests we then write out the tasks that we absolutely have to get done today in order to be successful.
Now we can check our email, but wait there is a specific way to do that too. He tells us to open our email inbox and sort by name. Then go down the list of names that we are waiting for answers from and see if there are any emails from those specific people. If so, great, we can cross them off our "waiting for response" list. If we still have people on the list that haven't sent us an email, we should immediately shoot off a follow-up email to them asking for what we need. Then we should compose emails to our reach out list. We then close our email inbox and get to work.
Notice we still haven't read our email in its entirety. That's okay, now we start working on our priorities. We knock off all the work that we said absolutely needs to get done. If there is time left after our work is done, we can then open our inbox and take care of other people's priorities. The first day I started doing this I got so many things accomplished for my own business I was hooked! Now I am suggesting it to everyone I meet. It is very easy to fall back into the habit of checking your email first thing, so, I suggest if you don't already do it, turn off your computer each night. First thing in the morning start writing your priorities with the computer off. I hope this is helpful to you and you find yourself becoming more productive. Of course if you are in the service business, you may need to adjust this process to work for you. But the bottom line is, take care of your priorities first, then tend to those of others if you want to be a successful business owner.
VIRTUAL ASSISTANT TECH TIP
Set Up Systems Rather Than Goals to Stay on Track - Say What??
By Ramona Nichols
This may sound counterintuitive especially since I read it on the Todoist blog, but read on to find out how to stay on track and keep momentum when you're trying to juggle multiple client projects.
Jeremey DuVall, Happiness Engineer at Automattic, explains that "a goal is a specific objective that you either achieve or don't sometime in the future. A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run. So if you do something every day, it's a system. If you're waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it's a goal."
To avoid getting overwhelmed by multiple projects, break your working day into a series of time chunks that commit a certain amount of time to each project. This way at the end of the day you have at least moved forward with each project and won't have that nagging feeling that one huge project is lurking in the wings. You're chunking away bit by bit at each project.
Assigning work to certain times reduces the urge to procrastinate. You are no longer deciding whether or not to work during a given period; the decision is already made.
The key is to map your time chunks out ahead of time. Create a system. You can use your calendar or your project management tool. I've started using Trello for its visual appeal. Remember this only works if you plan ahead. Commit those time slots so you can see your day at glance BEFORE you begin to work.
You'll save time with this preplanning because it alleviates the need to to have to stop and think about what you're going to do next during a specific hour. Admit it, we all hate to "eat the frog first" so those big hairy projects keep getting pushed to the side with excuse after excuse. If you've got that bad boy slotted on your calendar at a certain time, and you know you only have to tackle it for a preset amount of time, you take an enormous amount of stress off your plate. Plus nothing falls through the cracks. You should also pad in time for those unexpected "urgent" requests from clients. Again, alleviate that stress.
The main benefit of systems and chunking is that it helps you stay realistic about what you can accomplish in any given day. It keeps you from taking on more than you can handle.
If you know you've got a client who always works on ASAP time, pad an hour in your day for her. If she doesn't call with that "stop the presses" task, guess what, you just bought yourself some down time. Woot!
When you assign a specific time slot to a project or task, before actually sitting down to do it, you protect that time form getting overrun by the inevitable distractions and interruptions of the day. We all face hectic days with clients expecting the impossible from us. Tuck this tip into your super powers bag and be ready the next time you're called on to get something done faster than a speeding bullet.
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STAFF WRITER BIOS
Christine Bearse ran her own successful VA business for over 6 years before becoming a business and goal setting coach. As the Goal Whisperer, she now helps women business owners overcome the obstacles they face when trying to grow their businesses and achieve their goals. Read more about her and how she can unlock your potential at christinebearse.com.
Ramona Nichols is chief cook and bottle washer at Geek Gal Friday. She loves to bend and shape-shift websites into the sites clients dream of. Her technical crushes include HTML, CSS, Wordpress, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator and Infusionsoft. Ramona is on a mission to take the mystery out of technology for underserved groups. If you've hit the wall with a technical situation, take a deep breath and give Ramona a call.