I’ve always liked being busy. I can get bored easily and so having lots of things going on at the same time keeps me energised. I also have a genius zone when it comes to running different projects and priorities effectively, having perfected this skill in my 9-to-5.
However, I had to learn the difference between just being busy and being productive. Especially because, like many of you, I started my business in order to achieve financial freedom and a more flexible work-life balance so that I could be more present in my girls’ lives. And so it would be a huge irony if the business then took me away from my family time, and even more so if I was busy doing things that didn’t actually add value to my business.
I run my business on 4 hours a day – 1hr on my work lunch break and 3 hours in the evening once the girls are in bed. I have to prioritise between working IN my business – executing client projects, admin, chasing invoices, responding to emails – and ON my business; planning and strategising, looking at my analytics and client feedback to inform campaigns and new product development, that sort of things.
Different seasons may determine the split of my time but on average I’ll spend 2 hours each working ON vs working IN my business. Another strategy that has worked is having different focuses on different days – so perhaps completing client deliverables at the start of the week and then towards the end of the week focusing on business development.
Having said that, the list of things to do in each part of my business is never-ending – it feels! I’m sure you can relate. So how do I make sure I’m doing the most important things each week? I divide my tasks into 3 main headings:
1. Tasks I can delegate or outsource
First off, I’ll say that I had a real struggle with delegating. I am a perfectionist and like things to be done just so. I found it hard to relinquish things to someone else as I was worried they wouldn’t execute it as well as I would.
Whilst I’m not completely cured of this, ☺️ over time I’ve realised that when I a) found the right people, b) clearly communicated what I expected of them, and c) learned to trust them to get on with it, the outcome was good. In some cases better than if I did it myself.
Tasks that you should delegate/outsource could be activities that take time but are not difficult to execute, for example:
- responding to emails
- accounting tasks (invoices etc)
- creating content (writing blog posts, captions for social media, designing graphics in Canva)
- project management tasks, for me this is setting up a new client on our system, creating a new Trello board using my unique template, and setting up milestone dates in our client Gantt chart
- drafting new proposals and following up on new bookings as they come in
By delegating some of these mundane tasks, I’m able to better use my time to brainstorm ways to grow my revenue.
SHAMELESS PLUG: One major time drain for all of my clients is website admin. This can be in the form of plugin updates, keeping on top of website security, bug fixes, adding new blog posts, updating page content. We offer website management packages from as little as £39 a month. You’ll get the peace of mind knowing that you’ve got quick and reliable support from an expert team. Find out more here.
Side note: If you’re thinking about hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA), I listened to a great podcast by Amy Porterfield recently that you’ll find really useful. She talks about how to go about hiring a VA, gives more example of what tasks to have them do, and when to uplevel your relationship with them as your business grows.
2. Tasks I can automate
If you have a task that is repetitive and pretty much always follows the same pattern, this is a good candidate for automation. For example, my website management clients are invoiced on a monthly basis. Rather than creating a new invoice every month, I’ve used Square to set up a recurring invoice series which generates a new invoice every month automatically. It also saves me time having to chase invoices, as Square will automatically sends out reminders at 7 days, 3 days and 1 day before the due date, and will notify the client (and me) if it still outstanding after 2 days.
There are also tasks that can be done much smarter and more efficiently using technology. The classic example here is setting up meetings. Rather than the barrage of emails going back and forth, “can you do this day”, or “what about this time instead”, you set up your calendar availability using a tool like Acuity or Calendly and your client or customer can book themselves in at a time that suits them.
On the point of automation, I love Zapier. Have you heard of it? It’s a platform that allows you to connect different apps and software in order to automate your workflows. It’s really easy to set up as well as you don’t need to know any code to do it.
By the way, have you checked out my automation guide? In it, I give 3 qualifiers to help you determine what kind of process is best to automate in your business, as well as more examples of areas where you can easily automate – including marketing, social media, and customer services. Grab it here for free.
3. Tasks I can bring my specific magic to
There are things in your business that only you as the founder/CEO can do. They certainly include goal setting and strategising, but perhaps other parts of your operations that you do best.
For me, this is my discovery calls. It’s a great opportunity for me to hear more about my client’s business, their goals and ambitions, any frustrations with their current website, and their ideas of what they want to achieve with their new website.
Even if they feel they haven’t been able to articulate this well (I often hear people say ‘I’m not techie-enough’, or ‘I don’t even know what that thing is called’), my secret sauce is being able to distill all the information, explain it back to them in a way that makes them say – and I quote – “It’s like you went into my head and got out what I’ve been trying to say!”, and craft a digital solution that perfectly meets their needs.
It’s the reason why 60% of people go on to booking one of my services after a discovery call, and that high conversion rate is the reason why I still like to do all my discovery calls myself. It’s also one of the aspects of my business that I enjoy the most, so it doesn’t feel like work.
In case you were wondering about the remaining 40%, sometimes we’re not a good fit, or I actually tell them ‘you don’t need a website now’ and give them homework to do to help them better frame their business goals first. I’m not about taking money from people if I know I can’t serve them well, or I can’t serve them yet!
I hope you’ve found this post helpful, even if not to use exactly as I do in your own business, but hopefully to inspire you to find out what works best for you. I’d love to know if you have any other productivity tips – please share them in the comments below. I’ll respond to each one x
P.S. I’m doing a bit of market research for a mini-course I’m putting together. Do you have a minute to answer these 7 questions? Thanks ever so much!