Overwhelmed with to-dos, meetings, and reminders? Get on the fast track to better productivity in 90 days. This three-month plan will help you gradually increase your efficiency by helping you identify where you’re spending too much time and offering suggestions that will streamline your operations.
Month 1: Automate Your Processes
We entrepreneurs tend to get in a groove in how we do tasks, and often don’t realize that there are tools that could reduce the amount of time we spend on them.
Make a list of the tasks you commonly perform, such as:
- Manage financial accounts
- Keep notes on clients
- Send emails to clients
Next, research what kinds of software are available to help you automate some of this. For example, QuickBooks Online automatically downloads your financial transactions and categorizes them by expense type, so you don’t have to bother with spreadsheets or (gasp) a paper checkbook. AWeber helps you automate emails so you’re not constantly adding new subscribers manually and logging in to send each one emails.
Month 2: Delegate Work
If you’re doing everything in your company, you can’t possibly maximize your productivity. This month, find help. The help you need could come from freelancers, interns, part or full-time employees, or third party firms.
Consider the tasks that take you longer than they would someone else. What tasks do you dread? That might be design, content writing, accounting, or sales. Now find people who are adept in these areas to help you.
After you find help, you’ll need the right tools to manage your new team. Project management software can help you stay on top of who’s assigned what, when tasks are due, and any documents that relate to the project at hand.
Bonus points if you find project management software that combines with CRM (customer relationship management). Because much of what you do likely centers around clients, it’s advantageous to use a single system where you can access client data and assign related tasks. The new Insightly CRM user interface simplifies assigning tasks to your staff and tagging projects based on certain criteria.
Month 3: Stop Time Wasters
Now that your train’s rolling down the track, it’s time to clean up those remaining tasks that are taking up more time than they should.
Start by managing your daily duties. You might find it helpful to block off time on your Google Calendar so that you focus only on the task at hand. Any time you have a new deadline or to do, put it on the calendar.
Next, consider where you’re leaking time. Are you spending more time on social media than you should? Use a tool like HootSuite to schedule updates in advance to cut down on this time. You can spend 30 minutes a week or less writing updates and peppering them throughout the week rather than logging in each time to write an update.
If you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you might be checking your email far too frequently. This does take self-restraint, but if you cut back to, say, checking your email 4 times a day instead of every 10 minutes, you’ll have more time to spend elsewhere and your focus will be better.
Productivity doesn’t happen overnight, but if you have a goal and the will, you can eliminate time-wasters and find better ways to run your business.
Author: Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and contributes to several sites, including ChamberofCommerce.com, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.