Organization is key to a small business. Especially if it’s just you. That means you’re the go-to person for your business, because you are the only person!
As a solo enterprise, you tend to have many things happening at once. So you’re always jumping from one hot to-do to another.
Approaching business this way means you’re “always on.” You find yourself reacting to every email, phone call, to-do, and social media message, which robs you of a productive day! At this point, your business tells you what to do, instead of the other way around. While that might feel like a productive business – after all, I’m so busy, right? – the hard truth is, it isn’t.
Yes, being busy means that you have clients and projects. It’s possible that you’re making money as a result. (Yeah, I know – cha-ching.) But scrambling all day as a “busy, reactive doer” means that you will eventually max out on time. That will cause your growth to plateau, and your frustration to rise.
The good news? There’s a better way to manage your time.
Plan for life responsibilities
As a wife, mother, husband, father, son, daughter, and/or friend, what responsibilities do you have outside of your business? Take the time to write out a list, and then designate times for those items in your calendar. Your list can contain items like going to the grocery store, dropping off the dry cleaning, and your children’s after-school activities.
Do some tasks recur each week or month? If so, identify a time for them. Instead of dropping off your dry cleaning on a whim, give yourself a designed time each week or month. Sure, if you can sneak it in sometime because you happen to be in the area, great. But, if not, no stress – you still have it on your calendar.
Get in the habit of putting family obligations on your calendar at the beginning of the month or the quarter. Even though you run a business, you shouldn’t be excluded from family events!
If you’re a weekend warrior, structure your prices so that you can have at least one weekend off a month. Not only will this give you the mental break that you need, but you can also participate in some much-needed family time.
Block out time for success
Blocking time is a great way to help you get things done. By blocking out chunks of time on your calendar, you will know exactly what you have to do – and how long it should take you to do it.
In a past life, when I worked as a wedding photographer, I knew it would take me three hours, from start to finish, to design and edit a wedding album. So, I would block out a full three hours on my calendar. And – more importantly – I stuck to it. See, there are some tasks that are just plain fun. I could have spent 10, 15, even 20 hours designing and editing – a lot of that spent playing, because I enjoyed it. But that didn’t help my business. Instead, it hurt my bottom line.
When you block time, you become more realistic about what you can actually accomplish in a day. And that has a snowball effect: It helps you to place appropriate value on your time, it keeps you focused, and it even helps you feel more accomplished during your workweek.
Change your perspective
In business, we tend to look at to-dos as a standalone task. But the reality is, one to-do often triggers another, and then another, and then another. To save time, we should tackle all similar to-dos, instead of bouncing back and forth.
Chunking your to-dos can be done in two different ways: (1) by project or (2) by type of work.
Let’s talk about by project first. If you have a to-do that triggers another, consider setting aside time to complete all the tasks tied to it.
Let’s say you’re about to offer a new service. To market that new service, you could simply do the tasks one at a time, as needed – which means that you’ll be constantly bouncing around. Or you can schedule time to knock out a big chunk.
For example: If you’re writing a blog post about this new service, you should go ahead and write the email content and Facebook content, because you’re already in the mental state for writing. By contrast, if you were to write the blog post, and then come back to the Facebook content a day later, you would probably need to refresh yourself on what you had written, and get back into the writing mood. All of that is just a waste of time.
By chunking your to-dos into mini-projects and defining an amount of time to accomplish everything, you’ll be able to get more done, faster.
Returning to our example above, that mini-project might look like this:
Marketing a new service:
- 1 hour: Write content (blog, Facebook post, Instagram post, email)
- 30 minutes: Find images for content
- 1 hour: Lay out content
Another change in perspective that can add valuable hours back into your day? Chunk your to-dos by the type of work you do.
If you have three clients that need the same thing from you, complete all three of those tasks at the same time. Then you’re in the right headspace to tackle those steps, and it will go faster.
This can go even further by selecting one day a week to do certain things. Maybe consult calls always fall to Tuesdays and Thursdays. Or phone calls only occur between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day.
By chunking similar items together, you’re going to be more efficient, and you will ultimately be better at each task.
It’s inevitable that …
You will run out of time at some point. You will hit that ceiling.
That unfortunately is when burnout occurs, because you feel like you’re working so hard, but nothing is changing. That’s when you need help. That’s when you need an all-in-one platform like 17hats.
You see, we believe you can have a life AND a thriving, growing small business. That’s precisely why we have helped more than 20,000 small business owners organize and systemize for success.
Now, you might say, that sounds hard … or expensive. It’s neither. In fact, it’s easy, and affordable. With 17hats, you can rely on our community, support staff, and free education resources to guide you. And for less than $300 a year, you can transform your business for growth.
What to learn more? Join a free 45-minute demonstration and learn how 17hats can help you organize your day, weeks, and year!