As a business coach, I work with a whole range of people. Some of them have been running their business for years, whilst others are just starting out. Whatever stage they’re at, there’s one issue that seems to come up time and again.
Do you recognise any of these?
Stop worrying! You’re not alone. All of these reactions are completely NORMAL!
If you’re generally organised and find it easy to get through everything that has to be done, then the occasional day when you lack motivation or focus won’t hurt. Make a conscious decision to reward yourself with a day or half-day off – and do something you enjoy without feeling guilty. You’ll feel better for it and return to work afterwards refreshed and ready to recommit.
But if, on the other hand, you frequently struggle to manage your time, then a few tips may help. Here are my top 10 – see which ones appeal to you most!
1– At the end of each working day, identify three things you want to do the next day and list them in order of priority. Then tackle your top priority task first each morning, followed by the other two.
2 -If you could STOP doing one thing, what would it be? Identify one thing you you’re really weak at doing, and stop doing it. If necessary find someone else to do it for you! Play to your strengths not your weaknesses.
3 – Don’t assume you always have to pay for help. Can you skill swap with someone? Bartering is the small business owner’s friend!
4 – Having said that, there are times when it does make sense to pay someone else. If your business is in the early stages, or you are struggling financially, it can feel counterintuitive to pay out money to someone else. However, quite apart from the importance of getting expert input in some key areas (legal issues, for example, or tax advice) there’s another reason to pay for help. Ask yourself; “if I wasn’t doing this myself, what could I be doing and how much money could I generate by doing so?” If you can earn more doing what you’re good at than you’d pay someone else to do what you’re not good at – it’s a no brainer!
5 – For tasks you hate, or find difficult, break them down into 30 minute chunks, with a small reward at the end. Buy a timer! Yes I know we all have them on our phones but then you get tempted to look at other stuff, which leads to distraction and time wasting! Book 30 minute time slots in your calendar for these tasks then set the timer for 30 minutes at the start. Focus on that one task until the timer goes off, then stop and take a break/reward yourself. Repeat if necessary.
6 – Use Eisenhower’s ‘urgent and important’ matrix. If you’re trying to decide what to focus on today (or what your top 3 things should be for the next day) then ask yourself, is this urgent AND important? If the answer is yes, it goes on the list!
7 – Get clear on the key social media channels for your business (better to do one platform really well than 2 or 3 badly). Use an app like Buffer or Hootsuite to pre-program some core communications to keep you active and visible. Then supplement this with pro-active visits (liking, commenting, tagging, etc) when you can spare 10 minutes, but don’t get sucked into spending hours on social media! If this is a weakness, set your timer for 10 minutes before you start and force yourself to stop when the timer goes off.
8 – Make sure you take a break at lunchtime to eat and go for a walk (however short) in the fresh air. Our brains need food, exercise and rest to function at their best.
9 – If there’s something you’re struggling with, have a quick brainstorming session with two or three (or more) friends. Briefly describe the issue that’s bothering you, and then sit tight (and silent) for 2 minutes while your friends come up with as many suggestions as possible for ways to tackle it. Write down all their ideas, however whacky and even if you’ve tried them before. See how many ideas you can collect. Afterwards reflect on your list. What could you try, adapt or explore?
10 – Make yourself accountable. Work with a business buddy to each commit to the actions you want to take in the next week / month. Then schedule a weekly / monthly call or coffee to catch up and feedback on what you’ve done.
Blog by Amanda Cullen from Business Made Simpler who presented these tips at a recent Wych Networking event.
Amanda Cullen helps small business owners to grow their business and run it better. If you’d like to discuss how she can help you and your business, do get in touch.