Running a business often doesn’t deliver all the work/life benefits owners dream it will. If this sounds familiar, and your balance is quickly disappearing before your eyes, a productivity expert has three valuable pieces of advice that will help freedom become part of your life again.
My ambition in starting Lady Calamity was to empower small business owners to find that freedom they were searching for when they first started their own business.
You know what I’m referring to – the magical idea that feeds your belief that working for yourself will mean not only doing what you love, but also deliver a lifetime of half days on a Friday, long weekends, finishing at 3 to pick the kids up from school – all kinds of magic and delight.
And then, reality sets in. We realise that we not only need to do the work for our clients – whatever that might be – but we also need to wear the marketing hat, the HR hat, the bookkeeper hat, the business development hat. How can we possibly wear all these hats and do all these jobs, and still get home by 5pm, let alone 3pm?
Realising how hard business is can be a tough pill to swallow for some, but it doesn’t have to be if you can do three things:
One: Learn how to use your time as productively as possible. How? You start out by keeping an activity diary for the week. Think of it as an elaborate food diary. Be incredibly detailed and honest with yourself and keep a record of how you spend your time for the week. Include travel time, when you stop to check your emails, when you check Facebook and for how long and so on. I promise when you look over it on Friday afternoon, you’ll be surprised at what you find. You will probably realise that you check your emails far too frequently, sit on Facebook for too long, and activities that should probably take you 10 minutes might take you 15 or 20. Find where you’re wasting time and acknowledge it.
Now you know how and where you’re spending time, you can now plan your week more productively. Take the time on a Friday afternoon or Monday morning to plan your week and set yourself appointments – and keep them by making yourself accountable. For example, from 9:30am – 10am you might check and respond to weekend emails, and from 10am-11am you’ll work on a proposal, and so on. Now that you’re more focused, you’ll find your productivity skyrockets and wasted time will be minimal.
Finally, you need to realise that you can’t – and don’t have to – do everything yourself. If you have trouble with this concept, think about your hourly rate. Say you charge your time at $80 an hour, but a bookkeeper costs $50 an hour and a marketing consultant charges $75 an hour. It’s quite clear you’re better off outsourcing both of these tasks to someone else, while you do what you do best and charge for it.
It’s win-win! Less wasted time means higher productivity and more doing what you love best. The best part if you’re getting paid for it, rather than wasting your time doing something you can’t charge for.
Hopefully these three points might have just empowered some more small business owners to find their freedom.