We all seem to be as busy as bees these days! Most of us are faced with the daily struggle to try and get to the end of our To-Do lists. While this is a common problem for everyone, it is even more of an issue for business owners. Over the years, as the owner of e-BAS Accounts, I too have experienced the frustration and stress caused by this daily struggle. This year however, I decided to do something about it and to that end spent much of the summer-break researching the issue. My research led me to discover that putting efficient systems in place removes the struggle and allow us to better manage productivity dilemmas. Today I share those systems with you……….
My Productivity Systems
To be done before the working year begins:
1. Yearly To-Do List:
Buy a large yearly wall planner. Enter the following:
● Important tax due dates
● Holidays (public and personal)
● Birthdays (family and clients)
● Other important dates or events.
2. Monthly To-Do Lists:
Now get specific and go to each month on the wall planner and add the following items:
● Client work i.e. who, what and when
● Courses and webinars
● Blogs to write
● Social media plan
● Other as needed
3. Google Calendar:
Next transfer all of this data onto Google calendar (or your calendar of choice). This enables online and mobile access to your yearly planner allowing you to stay organised and focused no matter where you are.
To be done at the start of each week:
1. Referring to the monthly planner, proceed to plan the upcoming week’s tasks/events. Allow up to 4 tasks per day only (this number allows for interruptions like phone calls, unexpected small job requests, emails that require immediate attention, family emergencies etc.)
2. Write them in a diary or online task manager and also transfer them to Google calendar.
3. Clear your email inbox to zero – do this at the start of every week!
To be done each day:
1. Start the day by checking email, text messages etc. Make a note of any new tasks that require your action as a result. Add these to your task list where appropriate.
2. Looking at your daily To-Do list, decide which items can be done quickly and do them straight away e.g. phone calls, return email messages, make appointments, pay bills etc. Then begin to tackle the larger tasks on your list (see 3).
3. The 90 minute task rule: Work on tasks in 90 minute intervals. You need a timing device to do this. Before you start work, remove any distractions such as mobile phone, email, social media, Skype etc. Shut the office door and put up a “do not disturb” sign. When you’re ready, turn on your timing device and then go, go, go! Work steadily for the whole 90 minutes without stopping. This really works – it’s amazing how much you will get done during that time! Do this for all 4 daily tasks (this equates to 6 hours of uninterrupted work leaving 2 hours for unplanned interruptions, checking email, returning phone calls etc.)
4. At the end of each day, review the status of each task. Mark off those that are completed in the diary or task manager. Add unfinished tasks to the next day’s list. Always try to complete all scheduled weekly tasks within that week and start the next week with a new set of tasks.
I have been using this system for a year and it is really working for me! Sometimes things still go awry but that’s okay because it’s only “sometimes” and not all of the time as in the past. In business you must try to be as organised as possible and this means lots of planning. As a business owner, if a planned framework exists in the background, then it doesn’t matter when life throws you a curve ball – you can catch it, return to your plan, pick up the pieces and just get on with it.