I talk to a lot of people about admin tasks they don’t like doing. Things that take time and mean they can’t get on with what they want to do – deliver their business.
In the last few days, I’ve had a quick chat with someone who thinks they could benefit from my help. We talked about some admin tasks I could do that would make their life easier and some basic processes I could put in place to save them time.
It was only a short conversation and only about the ‘what’ that they needed to release themselves from. Tasks that are are currently holding them back from building their core business. Next, we needed to talk about the ‘how’ and ‘when’ that would allow them to do this, but this potential client is ‘too busy’ to take the time to discuss that!
‘Work Life Balance’ and Productivity
We often see the phrase about a balance between work and life – and like to think we can achieve a good level of it, but it’s a challenge. Increased productivity is also something we strive for but how do we get there?
One of my clients recently took up running and cycling again, after stopping both when he started his business because he thought he just didn’t ‘have the time’. In reality, giving up such activity doesn’t really save you time. Evidence shows that daily exercise can help you find a better work-life balance by increasing your energy, concentration and general well-being. It has certainly improved my client’s feeling of wellness!
When it comes to boosting our personal productivity, its different approaches work for different people.
I recently came across a post on Facebook from someone who had reduced their 45-hour working week to under 30. They used something called The Pomodoro Technique: 25 minutes working on a task and then a short break. Only ever having 25 minutes to complete a task makes you break down that work into chunks and forces you to have a break! – It also requires you to focus on one task, rather than switching between them. Would you be surprised to know that multi-tasking has been shown to reduce productivity by up to 40%?
The 50/10 rule: 50 minutes’ work, 10 minutes’ break has also been recommended to me. In general, taking regular breaks has been shown to increase productivity. The average attention span is said to be between 25 and 45 minutes, so it makes sense.
For ‘Solopreneurs’ who work on their own, with a massive list of ‘urgent’ and essential tasks, the biggest challenge is usually a lack of organisation. Sometimes, if you lift your head from that pile of paperwork and look at tools (and people) who can help you, the benefits may well far outweigh any time or cost in research/testing.
Technology to save time?
Problems coordinating your diary with others to make those all-important meetings?
There are all sorts of tools out there, and https://calendly.com/ is just one that might be useful. To coordinate meetings with more than two people, many people find http://doodle.com/en_GB/ very helpful.
Are you drowning in to-do lists and missing critical follow-ups on emails as a result? Then you may find https://www.followupthen.com very useful
Struggling to find good images to use for presentations, advertising and other purposes? https://pixabay.com/ is a great tool with over 930,000 free stock photos, vectors and art illustrations.
There are of course many, many more tools and apps you can use to save time and increase your efficiency.
Sometimes though technology can consume time…
You recognise that consumption of time most keenly with those annoying Windows updates that cripple your machine for what seems like most of the day. Yes, you can change the way these updates are fed to your machine, scheduling for more convenient times but those helpful ‘updates’ still often create little bugs and issues with particular software…
It is a case of being selective and disciplined. It’s all too easy to get sidetracked because that piece of software you saw advertised sounded amazing, so you start researching it, signing up for a trial / looking at reviews…
Then you find other articles about it… Next, you spy something else that could be useful… (of course, then there are articles on that… Reviews…)
Before you know it you’ve fallen down a rabbit hole looking at all sorts of sites and data.
Everyone works differently but if you are researching tools like this for yourself the initial step of talking to other people about what they’ve used (at things like Business Builders) – what works (and doesn’t) and some detail on that is far more useful. Setting yourself a particular time to research that tool before you decide can help to ensure you get the time-saving benefit of the tool without losing some of that time spent in ‘research’.
Of course, it can also be the job of someone like me to recommend tools or research the right ones for you – to understand what the issue is you’re trying to resolve and finding the easiest way to meet that.
Louisa Newport, SmartPA Partner
Outsourced Office Services