If you are like most business owners, you are juggling about a million and one different things. If you are a smaller organization or entrepreneur, you may not have a lot of support staff to help you out. Staying focused and on track is essential to your business growth. After 13 years of being in the SEO industry, I’ve learned that managing my time is an on-going battle. I’m sure it’s the same in every industry. I’ve written countless articles telling you all the things you need to do (Blogging, social media, SEO etc) so here are some tips to help you manage it all!
Plan tomorrow today: Before you end your day, create your action plan for the next day. You’ll be a lot more effective and focused if you start the day knowing what you need to accomplish. Extra tip: Do the boring, grungy work first – you’ll never enjoy doing it so you may as well get it out of the way and that leaves your brain free from the dread of those tasks. You’ll enjoy the rest of your day more and you’ll be more creative if those tasks aren’t weighing you down.
Schedule a “brain dump” once a week and then map out the contents: Take an hour or two once a week to jot down everything on your mind. Keeping an on-going list helps keep your brain free from clutter so you can better focus. Once you’ve got the info down, you can organize it into categories. Just a few sample categories are: Must do, Administrative, Opportunity, SEO, Social Media etc. You can then prioritize the tasks from within the categories.
Create the ideal workspace: Know yourself and know what environment you need to get the most work done. The workspace may also vary by task. Some people need to write in quiet, other people are inspired by the energy and noise of working in Starbucks. Create the ideal workspace for yourself and make sure it is armed with the supplies you will need. Doing some brainstorming? Try having a whiteboard handy. Need to refer to reference book, keep them stacked on your desk (place them there the night before so you aren’t wandering around looking for the books when you should be getting to work). When you are feeling low energy, try turning on a fan and getting some air circulation or crank up the tunes to get you going (stand up and dance it out for a few minutes – that really helps!)
Plan your meals and snacks: For those of you that work from home, we all know what it’s like when you are so busy you forget to eat. It’s somehow harder to remember to take a break when you are working from home. You have to get up and stretch and make sure you are eating proper meals and snacks. Nothing zaps productivity like hunger.
Create a policy for your phone, email and social media: There is a constant deluge of information coming in from phones, email, RSS feeds, social media feeds and more. Set aside some time to disconnect and just focus on the task at hand. Some of your work probably includes social media but that doesn’t mean you need to be a slave to it all day long. Taking a quick peek at email or Twitter often leads to losing a lot of time and losing your focus. If you set rules for yourself in advance and adhere to them, you don’t even have to think about it.
Set a timer: I’ve found it beneficial to set a timer for one hour and focus solely on one project for that whole hour. No phone calls, no emails, no social media and no mind wandering. I put all my energy and focus into that one project. At the end of the hour, I stretch and get some water and move on to the next task.
Manage calls and appointments: Phone calls and appointments are a necessary part of most jobs. Have you ever noticed that calls and meetings often lead to more work? That’s a good thing but it should be factored into your plan. If you have a day that is heavy with meetings and calls, be sure you plan a quieter day the next day so you can catch up on other things and get to work on the tasks that were generated from the calls and meetings the day before.
Read David Allen’s “Getting Things Done”: It’s a great book. If you haven’t read it yet, check it out!
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate: Learning to delegate is difficult for many people. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking no one can do it better than you can. No one knows your product or service, no one cares as much as you do. While that may be true, it is still possible to find reliable help and sometimes getting something done “well” is good enough. Not everything needs to be perfect and not everything requires your time and attention. Learn what you can and can’t delegate and find a team you can trust.
Learn To Say No!: You can’t do it all, no one can. Learn to evaluate and prioritize opportunities and tasks and know when to say no.
Look For Inspiration: Nothing keeps you on track like motivation and inspiration. Find your source of inspiration and motivation and use it to keep you going. It may be motivational words or it may be a reward you’ll get or it may be reaching a financial goal, or a combination of all of those things.
Check out Evernote: It’s a great tool that allows you to keep notes – you can grab from emails and the web. It’s a great way to capture things you don’t want to forget and have it easily at your fingertips when you need it. You can organize notes into notebooks and add tags. You can search by the tags, the date the note was added or even see the location it was added from. It’s a great way to store information so you don’t spend forever hunting around for it. You can have it on your computer and smartphone or tablet and access it from your hard drive or the cloud and all versions sync up. It’s been a lifesaver for me. I store stats and ideas and websites and pretty much everything!
There are many other tips that entrepreneurs use to stay focused and productive. Share yours!
I have found all of the items I mentioned to be helpful but I have to say the biggest one for me is learning to prioritize. Not all tasks have equal importance or outcome and not all tasks require the same amount of time and energy. Learning to quickly factor all these things in and creating your To Do list in order is crucial when you are juggling so many things.