We’re all busy. We all have a to-do list a mile long and we’re constantly being pulled at from all sides…work, home, family and a bunch of other obligations.
We’re all striving for that (elusive?) work life balance. We want things to be organised both at home and in our business. Sometimes I wish I could just press a button and have things magically fix themselves…a girl can dream, right?
Getting better organised in your business isn’t all about wishing for magic wands (sigh) or fancy apps or the latest technology (although the latter does help significantly). At the end of the day, being organised means doing certain activities consistently so that you, or anyone else who is executing it does it the same way every time.
I’m going to outline five steps you can take to get better organised in your life and especially in your business:
I cannot stress this ENOUGH! Planning ahead takes such a load off your shoulders, because you know exactly what you have to do and when to do it.
You can plan your entire year using one or two sheets of paper. Just focus on a few goals for the year. Then detail what you’re going to do each month to get to that goal, then what you’re going to do each week to get there and then what activities you need to do daily that will get you to that point. You start with the overall goal and then you break it down into manageable pieces.
Lemme Illustrate that for you:
Goals for the year
>>What I need to do each Month
>>>What I need to do each week
>>>>What I need to do each day
If you want to go paperless, there are many templates available that can help you with your planning activities. This is especially helpful with marketing and social media activities (such as this one from Hubspot). Doing activities such as a brain dump or an idea dump are really helpful in the planning stage because you get a lot of information down in one setting and then you can organise it when you’ve had some time to reflect on your goals and how you want to get there. Here’s a very simplified, very brief example, if you want to increase your social media following then you need to decide on a few things:
- How often you are going to post
- Your themes for each day
- How you are going to mix that content (everything shouldn’t only be promotional or sales related). There should be a mix of inspirational, educational and promotional content.
Remember the goal setting you did earlier and the breakdown by month and week? The same would apply in this case. Decide what outcomes you want in terms of a social media following for the year, then using the information from your brain dump plus your knowledge of your audience’s likes, wants and needs and your handy template you could then input the relevant information so that you have a guide as to what content you’re going to share over the coming weeks and months. You also have to include time to engage with your followers to build and maintain the relationship. Content and interaction needs to be consistent to keep your audience engaged. In order to keep a consistent flow of content and interaction, you can schedule content ahead of time using tools such as Planoly, Later, Hootsuite and MeetEdgar? If you’re more active on Facebook, there’s an option within Pages Manager to schedule and backdate posts. There’s also one called SocialBee that I absolutely LOVE! I’ll probably do a review post on it another time.
This is another important activity. You need to develop a consistent method for all activities within your business; from creating or delivering products and services to handling/interacting with clients and customers.
Activities such as
- Product manufacturing
- Product packaging
- Product delivery- to stores
- Product delivery to customers
- Handling product returns
- Handling customer complaints
- Handling discovery or demonstration calls with prospects
- Onboarding new clients
- Responding to client queries
All require standardised guidelines.
Think of standards as a recipe for your business with the list of ingredients (inputs) and instructions on how to make it (your process). Standards help ensure consistency in outputs such as products, service delivery methods, client interaction and so on. It also helps to regulate and track internal operations. This helps safeguard you and your customers because you have a clear reference guide and it becomes easier to track and determine where or when something went wrong because there is clear documentation of the process.
I’m going to give you a quick overview of how you go about developing operating standards. Remember it’s like a recipe. You need ingredients and you need instructions on how to combine those ingredients so that you get the desired outcome.
Let’s go through an exercise.
- Think of all the inputs you need to have to complete the activity.
- Think of how you have done that activity in the past (your process) and think of all the steps you need to take to complete the activity
- Also think of the order in which those steps must happen
- Is there a time frame involved. When does step x or step y have to happen in order for z to take place?
Here’s an example to illustrate my point.
Say you’re onboarding a client, you’ll need a list of items that you need to onboard them such as an invoice, a contract and any other information you need from them. Then you would have to decide in what order they would need to complete these documents and if there’s anything else that happens after the signing such as sending out a welcome email or a welcome package (which would contain another list of things). So you know that everytime you onboard a client you need x,y and z things and they happen in this particular order and are followed by another thing which contain another set of items that need to be delivered to the client.
Implement and use systems
Now, once the standards have been developed for the individual activities, then you would combine them together to create a system (a series of processes, moving from one operation within your business to another within your business)
Automation helps with this.
In this day and age you really shouldn’t be still manually taking appointments. There are way too many scheduling platforms (some of them are even free) that you can use to do that. There are Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems that help automate the process of communicating and updating clients for you so that you don’t have to do it all by yourself. A simple thing like using Streak for Gmail which can help you organise your inbox, track and communicate with leads, and schedule emails to be sent out takes quite a load off your shoulders. Email marketing autoresponders help to keep your leads and customers engaged and sell products so that you don’t have to be interacting with them all the time (once you set it up correctly of course).
If we go back to our client onboarding process, I’ll illustrate how you can use automation to help with this:
You can set up a scheduler such as AcuityScheduling to book appointments.
You can use a combination of Google Drive and SignRequest to create contracts and send them out for signatures and get them bac without all the back and forth of downloading and signing and scanning and resending.
You can then schedule or set up an email or welcome package to be delivered digitally to your client using Streak.
Or, if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution you can use a Client Relationship Management (CRM) programme such as Dubsado, 17Hats or Keap that helps automate this entire process from booking the appointment to sending out the contracts, invoices, and other related documents. You can also schedule updates and deliverables to be sent out accordingly.
If your business is more project oriented or you have an upcoming campaign or a product launch, then using a project management software or platform can be immensely helpful in managing and tracking projects. They help you to set out and organise tasks, assign them to team members, set due dates, create calendars so you can see all the activities at a glance. You can share files directly, leave comments, have a chat related to a specific task or project. I mean, there’s no shortage of features. Some really good project management tools are Asana, Monday, Trello (free), and Slack. A simple google sheets spreadsheet can also work if you don’t want to learn how to use yet another platform.
The important thing to remember here is that once you develop the standards for each of the activities within your business and then set up the system for how it works, life becomes much easier because you won’t have to be doing it yourself every time, nor will you have to try to remember how you did it the last time or what’s the next step in the process. This is because you have a clear documented process to follow, and a system set up to implement it for you. Now your main tasks becomes monitoring instead of spending time doing the repetitive and time consuming tasks.
Have a singular focus
We all do a lot of multitasking, otherwise how on earth would we ever get anything done, right? Wrong.
Numerous studies, experts (and articles like this one) have shown that multitasking actually gets less done. How many times have you been hard at work, doing a million things and at the end of the day, you have a bunch of half finished tasks to show for it? You’re tired and hungry and irritable because you skipped lunch to get xyz done and yet you STILL haven’t finished.
Instead, what you can do is:
- Create a list of tasks/activities you need to complete for the week, then break it down by day. PRIORITIZE which ones are most important/urgent. This should be no more than 3-4 items
- Focus on completing one thing at a time.
- Check it off when you do.
- Rinse, repeat
This list shouldn’t be excessively long.No more than 10 things, tops. I’m serious. You have to be realistic and reasonable about what you can get done in any given time period. Also tied to this is device usage. Try to turn off or silence your phone during the time you’re working. Reduce or turn off the notification settings for things like email and social media. And speaking of email, set specific times of the day to check and respond to emails. Remember we talked about systems, so if you have employees, you can set up a system for handling queries and complaints and set the conditions under which those situations are escalated to you.
As your business is growing, handling day to day tasks is going to get difficult, even with automation. Many times you spend so much time handling the administrative and operational duties, you don’t have the time to focus on your strategic goals. And now we’re in the era of digital marketing and social media, we feel the need to be constantly on and engaged all the time. I’m sure you feel stressed out overwhelmed and frustrated. It’s at this stage that you probably need to get help. You may feel you are superwoman and can do everything yourself, but alas, you’re only human. Burnout is real, and no-one benefits when you’re in that state, especially not your business.
Having a friend or a family member handle certain tasks can help or better yet investing in professional help by getting an assistant or a business manager can make you life a whole lot easier. As your business grows you need to make a plan for who you need to bring on board and when so that you can continue to operate your business smoothly.
If you’re at a point in your business right now where you need help staying on top of everything, where you go to bed exhausted every night, where you need to figure out a way to process all the information that comes at your and get your to-do list under control; if you have ideas for new digital products or services and don’t know how to automate the process of introducing and selling them to your audience and need someone to help create, and package your digital products and implement the marketing systems to promote them to your audience, then feel free to schedule a discovery call with me and together we can figure out how to move you from overwhelmed to overjoyed once again in your business.
I help clients with things such as:
Inbox, scheduling and calendar management
Social Media Strategy
Funnel design and set up
Here’s what some of my clients have had to say:
“Renée is an exceptional virtual business manager. Working with her has made my life so much easier. Her attention to detail and professionalism are top notch.
In addition to quickly responding to requests, she thinks ahead about my business needs and offers solutions in advance. The systems she has put in place have streamlined my work and helped me follow up on tasks that used to fall through the cracks. I travel a lot for business and trust that when I am out of office, Renee has things handled. It’s a huge relief to have such capable support. I recommend Renee without reservation!- Amber Mayes, CEO, Amber Mayes Consulting
“Renee is absolutely amazing! She is efficient, prompt and follows instructions to the letter. She provides great insight and suggestions. She is a wealth of knowledge and doesn’t mind going the extra mile and always keeps it professional. Prior to hiring her I was overwhelmed in daily tasks; trying to figure out how to map out various projects and she came into my business, organized, prioritized and helped me monetize it. With her by my side I have been able to really focus on revenue generating activity. I wish I could clone her! A+++++ One of the best hands down!” Precious S Brown, Master Clarity Coach, Precious Empowers Enterprise LLC
So click here if you’re interested in finding out more about how you can get the relief you need so that you can once again focus on the things you love and let someone else handle the things you don’t.
Until next time,
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