When you’re incredibly busy and absolutely flat out with work, there are some things which will both save your sanity and keep you operating efficiently. I’ve just come out of 4 months of being insanely busy and I will say that some things have really helped me do my job, meet client demands, maintain standards and keep everyone happy – and ensure I don’t lose my own sanity.
Here is a list of things that can save you when you’re busy
1. Email Templates
These are my best friends. Whether I’m onboarding a new client or sending some pricing, having well-worded and excellent email templates make life so much easier. You create one, very carefully and well, and then you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. I know people often will look up a prior email that is similar, but that can take a lot of time when you need it most. These templates have clear blanks which I won’t miss as they have XXXX in the right spots, so I can just fill in the blanks. All attachments are already there, so it’s easy and quick to personalise, fill in the blanks and then just forward. What could take a half-hour to do may now be only minutes!
Having documented processes and systems is not just for a medium or large-sized business; it works perfectly well for a solopreneur. I know when I’m doing something and I need to do it quickly and effectively, I just follow the process, do what I know needs to be done and get the task done quickly and efficiently. My system can be anything from invoicing to reaching out to a new prospective client.
3. Recurring Invoices
Whichever accounting system you are using, most have the ‘recurring transaction’ function which allows you to do an invoice for example and save it as a recurring. This again makes a task, like invoicing, so much quicker and more efficient. Plus, you can set reminders for when a recurring invoice is due, so you won’t forget and ensure you keep the cash coming in.
4. Keep doing the critical things – even if you don’t think you’ve got time
When business owners get busy, they often fall into the habit of skipping “non-urgent tasks”. That might be receipting and debt collecting, following up on leads or doing their marketing. Very short term you might get away with this, but what if you’re really busy for several months (as I’ve been)? You can’t just stop, so I highly recommend you keep doing those main tasks and keep on top of things. A little every week makes things do-able, but if you leave these non-urgent (but nonetheless important) tasks for months you’re going to fall into a hole.
5. Do things in advance
When you do have downtime or spare time, then utilise that time instead of sitting back and thinking you can just sleep in that day or go shopping instead. These tasks might be blog writing for example. This is a task you can do well in advance for several months and then have a tonne of pieces in reserve to call on when you do become busy. I was several months in advance with my writing, which was wonderful because then I didn’t have to worry about keeping this going over the last 4 or 5 months. Yaaa!
6. Time buffers
Regardless of whether you are busy or not, the fact is that a business coaching session will invariably go over time. A 30-minute session becomes 40 … or a 45 minute closing on 55 minutes … so having buffers is a blessing. I can be back to back and very busy, but with my 15-minute buffers between appointments, it means that I can usually manage to stay on time and be no more than a couple of minutes late at the most.
7. Allocate time for specific tasks
Perhaps you need to complete a task for a client which you promised would be done this week, or you have a batch of invoices to do? Either example, set time aside in your diary for larger tasks. If you have a project to work on, then schedule it into your appointment so that you don’t book in other things and can actually meet necessary deadlines.
8. Get basic skills up to speed
One of the blessings I have is that I can type at 90+ wpm which is fairly fast and that really does help me in so many ways. If you have a gap in your skills, whether it’s technology, how to use a program, typing speed or something else, consider getting some skill training when you have time, so that you can enhance these skills and be able to work more efficiently.
9. Get organised
Being organised, having your computer files all where they should be, a clear computer desktop, a clear physical desktop, filing up to date and many other aspects of organisation will mean you most likely can work more effectively and efficiently. Sorting files later takes time, so having great organisation now means you can quickly file as you go and as importantly can easily find things quickly when you need to.
10. Delegate if you have staff
If you have a team, then ensure they are trained up, skilled and ready to be delegated to. If you are new to delegating (there is actually a skill to it) then begin practising now and keep working on this skill. A great delegator will guide and support the team member, without micromanaging.
11. Don’t be a bottleneck point
On that note, if you are delegating then make sure you are not the cause of any bottlenecks. Ensure your processes and systems allow for things to progress smoothly and don’t be such a micromanager that everything has to go through you. Give your team permission to shine and do their best and show initiative within the scope of their authority. You will later thank yourself for helping this to happen.
12. Be an exceptional communicator
When you’re busy it’s easy to give yourself unreasonable expectations and say “sure, I’ll do that”. If you’re being asked to do something urgently, provide a deadline you know you can reasonably meet, communicate that to the client and then diarise it so you know you do it. Someone might say, I need that by Friday, but you know it just can’t happen, so communicate (and negotiate) there and then, rather than disappoint.
13. Say ‘No’
Sometimes it is about saying ‘no’ or about setting a deadline you know you will be able to meet. A great example is that a client wanted to meet with me face to face. He said, I’ll pay you to come over, but they are 80-90 minutes away (each way) and I just don’t have 3 hours to sit in my car, even if I’m being paid. So I super nicely said that I couldn’t do that but would love to meet them on Zoom. I respectfully said no, but I did provide an alternative.
14. Work out your priorities
So often we just react to what is in front of us, rather than doing what is important. If a telemarketer is taking up your time, say no thanks and hang up. The phone ringing might have seemed something you had to deal with then and there, but reality is that some things are low priority (even if they grab our attention) so work out what you need to get done, make a list and then tackle it. Implement other strategies listed above, like saying ‘no’ so you can do what you know is important.
15. Eliminate fires long before they occur
So often ‘fires’ take up our time and create a real hassle for us, which just burns our time. If your computer died and you didn’t have a backup, then that would be a real problem. Perhaps disputes with clients would be handled and pre-managed by having excellent terms and conditions which are provided and signed on before a client commences.
All the above are good business practices and excellent time mastery tactics. If you need any help getting better at what you do so you’re able to be more time effective and operate more smartly, give me a call on 0411 622 666.