How can I reorganize my daily work routine to improve my efficiency and productivity?
The biggest problem I have, as a freelance marketing consultant and writer, is figuring our how to balance prospecting/sales with doing the actual work for existing customers. But I'd be curious to hear any tips you had on streamlining your work day generally.
1- Plan in advance. Start with your current projects. You know what you have committed to, You know what deliverables you have. You know how much time should be allocated on weekly basis or monthly basis for each of the running projects. When the tasks are allocated on your calendar then you keep trace of your progress and ensure that you won't be missing deadlines. You then move to the next step.
2- The current projects will give you an idea how much spare still time you have on your hands which can be allocated for Business Development. The indicators you get from the calendar will realistically tell you what kind of projects you would want to acquire so you can cope with the implementation and delivery. It is also a great way to spot at what point in a current project life cycle you will need to focus on acquiring a new client or customer so you don't have any income gaps throughout the year.
3- Check your emails and prioritise. Reply the urgent/Important and keep everything else to be answered towards the mid or end of the day. My discipline is that I will never take more than one working day to reply any email. This reflects professionalism and commitment.
4- Business development is best around 10:00 AM People are fresh, had their coffee and open to listen about new propositions and services. So dedicate one hour or one hour and a half for that purpose. The people you want to call can be shortlisted based on the indicators in the planning calendar. You can define the industry, the level of commitment in the projects you want to acquire, the nature, etc. This will make your phone calls focused towards specific solutions which will take less time to pitch or introduce which consequently will also be appreciated by the person you are trying to reach.
5- You might still want to acquire a big project and this is where the planning will help you identify at what point you need to get another fellow consultant to help you deliver on the same project. Your skills and expertise will be split and you both will be responsible for the implementation/execution or delivery. I said both but can eventually be more than two. You basically create a team for a specific project so you don't loose an opportunity.
6- Don't forget to do something personal everyday. You need to recharge. Let your hobbies come to the surface, You need to recharge. Energy does not come from relaxation only but rather from practicing the things we like.
I calendar everything. I set aside 5 hours a day for client work. If I don't have enough client work to fill those slots then it gets used for marketing for clients. Then I have training slots, bookkeeping slots, writing slots, etc.
Remember to stay in your proactive zone not a reactive zone.
Brainstorm at the beginning of the week and list everything that needs to be done. Calendar this items and then every morning prioritize and shift as needed. I figure if I shift something more than 5 times it is not a priority and I let it go.
Lisa, thank you so much for your response - it definitely makes sense. My problem is that marketing is currently a free-flowing activity rather than a disciplined, campaign-oriented one. (For example, I'll stop to check LinkedIn, which leads me to a call, which leads me to a proposal) and before I know it I'm out of time. I think part of the problem here is that I greatly prefer the marketing of my business to actually executing the work, which tells me that I need to either rebrand or completely change what I do, but that's another story. Again, thanks!
Great question Anne!
I do a lot of work with clients on exactly that. Always start your week, your day and even your month with an outcome that you are looking for. A lot of times we get caught up in "to do" lists that we HAVE to do. How does that make us feel? Pretty lousy most of the time. In fact, a lot of those tasks are urgent and need to get done right away.
When you start your day off with a [re-determined goal that YOU set, something important and proactive, you get a much better sense of what REALLY needs to get done in the day. You will be more productive and more fulfilled at the same time.
There are 3 easy steps to follow:
1. Decide on what you will get accomplished that day and write it out - the most important things to you. Why? This will keep you focused with less distractions when you focus on what you know is most important.
2. Write out why you want those things. What will they give you? How will they make you feel? This "why" will drive you to complete your tasks and motivate you to active the daily, weekly, monthly or yearly goal.
3. Write out a list of those things to do to help you reach your desired outcome. You have to write it down, get it out of your head. That way you can rest assured that you are not missing anything and now have a roadmap for your day. Follow it!
Practice this daily and it will get easier and easier to execute. Have fun with it and soon it will become a habit. Your productivity will go through the roof, you'll be out of overwhelm and you'll be more fulfilled in what you are doing.
Hope this helps.
For more information go to to DavidBrownlee dot com and drop me a line. I ma happy to consult with you for a complimentary 30 minute session on productivity and reorganization.
Business Consultant - Business Coach - Speaker - Author
Anne, try the following for 7 days - 1 full week, and you will find significant improvement in your productivity, focus and energy..and let me know how it goes:
1) make a list of the tasks and activities you need to do to operate your business - all of them - sales, marketing, admin, client work, etc.. Include any personal obligations/tasks that intrudes on your work day as well.
2) identify blocks of time you will work on each throughout the week, i.e. prospecting/sales (M-W-F) or mornings from 9-12. Client work T-Thurs. Admin at night or weekends, etc.
3) Block out those times/days on your calendar as if they are appointments, filling your 5 day work schedule completely.
4) Treat those blocks of times like any other appointment - schedule new tasks around those appointments, or outside work hours. No excuses (they should become exceptions not the rule).
5) Stick to your scheduled appointments and do the work you have assigned to your schedule.
Note - include personal stuff like a walk, the gym, a break, lunch, etc..into your schedule. Don't pretend they will not impact your schedule - even 5 minute to do's can sabotage productivity...Let me know how it goes and then I can give you tips on setting and executing on your weekly goals that will help tremendously in streamlining your day...Good luck
Anne, take a look at this template - the first page is a SAMPLE and the next one is a TEMPLATE you can use. http://balloffireconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/MasterTimeblock-Schedule-SAMPLE-Template2013.xls
Here is the key:
write out everything you have to do in a given week's period of time, and then allocate time to do the PRIORITIES...the must do! NOT the nice to do, fun to do, etc...
Now, to do this right you also need to know your GOALS!! What is it you are trying to achieve? Once you know that, then it is easy to ask yourself - Is the task I am working on or thinking of working on, helping me accomplish my goal. If YES, then allot time to it. If NO, no matter what, don't spend time on it.
Also, feel free to schedule time with me to talk http://meetme.so/BernadetteBoas
What has always worked for me is prioritizing my tasks from level of importance and ease of completion. I do this on a daily basis and schedule it in my planner tying anything that can be relative and beneficial to each into a single task. this lets me maximize my use of time and has me ahead of schedule constantly which is great. I plan and always follow through but having the extra time allows for me to deal with any unforeseen circumstances.
Thank you so much for your response. My question is this: do you mean that you put the most important, easiest task first? The easiest, least important first? etc. Also, can you give me an example of tasks that you can tie together into a single task? Sorry if this sounds dopey but I really want to understand.
The best way to leverage your time is outsource/delegate what you don't want to do and/or make sure you have systems in place to automate as much of the processes as possible.
For example, can you give the prospecting to someone else, and you just close? Or do enjoy the sales side, in which case hire people to do most of the work, which you can then review and teak?
Good sales and CRM systems can ease a lot of the workload as well, by ensuring that prospects/suspects are followed up with, for example.