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.
I would suggest dealing with the more majority priorities in your life first and foremost in the beginning of your daily routine. Write out a visual goal statement of what you want to accomplish in that day. Find you someone to take care of your remedial task throughout the day to where you can concentrate on the major things that matter most in your day. OK! After prioritizing your day then create a to do list of what must be done now, what needs to be done, and then what can be done at a later time. Because for most of us business professionals we tend to think the most busy we are then we are accomplishing something, but just because you are busy does not necessarily mean that you are accomplishing your object for the day. It's what gets done that truly matters at the end of your busy day. So, let's recap: (1) Prioritize, (2) Create a Goal Accomplish Statement on what you want to get out of your day, (3) Make a to do list of a) what needs to be done most important, b) what then needs to be done now, and c) what needs to be at a later time. I feel once you get a handle on these things that I suggest you will find your day will be much more efficient and the productivity of your day will increase. Because remember it's not how busy your are throughout your day it is what actually gets done in the end that truly matters. I hope this helps!
As a solopreneur biz owner myself, I relate big time to this one.
I use a business coach and a mastermind group to help me hold myself accountable. I have also studied the art of energy management with coaches and in online courses (your calendar is your friend).
There are facebook groups I've joined where I can state my intentions and ask for support.
I'm happy to talk more about coaching and accountability one-on-one with you, in a fee-free call. Let me know.
Greatist.com made this list called "27 Ways to Get More Sh!t Done," for increasing productivity:
Productivity Hero—Your Action Plan
1. Get enough sleep. Whoever coined the phrase “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” didn’t have all the facts straight. Not getting enough Zzz's could hinder productivity at work, so try to get those recommended seven to nine hours of snooze time.
2. Create routines. Make a habit of, well, sticking to habits. Schedule actions like writing emails at a certain time or hitting the gym after work, and try to do them daily. Soon that routine will happen on autopilot.
3. Wake up earlier. As long as you're still able to squeeze in enough sleep, try extending the day by getting up an hour earlier—when it’s still quiet and there are fewer distractions.
4. Step away from the inbox. Incoming emails can be a nuisance. Make a habit to only check the inbox at certain times of the day to avoid getting sidetracked with requests and responses.
5. Make a daily to-do list. Stay away from huge to-do lists. Instead, create a daily list of realistic jobs to tackle, like folding laundry, scheduling a doctor’s appointment, or paying the cable bill. Break up big goals into micro-tasks, like going to a yoga class over getting six-pack abs, or writing a page over completing a thesis. Soon, the small things will add up to big accomplishments.
6. Take a midday workout break. Got writers' block? Can’t fathom cleaning the bathroom? Try hitting the pavement. Working out during the day could actually boost productivity, so the time spent exercising could actually help us get more done later .
7. Don’t multitask. Our brains aren’t wired to juggle too much at once, and we can work nearly twice as fast if we do only one thing at a time. (And nope, we’re not talking LOST time-travel). So remember those childhood manners and finish tasks one at a time.
8. Silence the phone. When it comes to getting stuff done, sometimes silence is key. Turn off email alerts and the cell phone ringer—that’s what voicemail is for!
9. Make a to-don’t list. Bad habits are just as significant as good ones. So make a list of things not to do because they make you unproductive (we’re staring at you, Netflix), and stick to it.
10. Brainstorm. Take some time to sit and get those creative juices flowing. Without distractions, brainstorming may be the way to come up with killer ideas in record time. Bonus: Creativity can make you happier.
11. Do those MITs. Nope, this isn’t college talk. MIT stands for most important tasks, and it’s a way to highlight the items that matter most on that to-do list. At the start of each day, write down a few things that must get done. Commit to tackling those tasks, and let the rest of the chips fall where they may.
12. Hit inbox zero. Sort every email once that inbox is open. Respond, file, draft, or delete. Keeping the inbox clean is key to staying organized and on point. (Just remember not to keep the inbox open when you aren't organizing it).
13. Stay healthy. Just like… don’t get sick. (It may be easier said than done.) But health and productivity go hand in hand, so be sure to maintain good health habits, like eating well and washing up after hitting the gym!
14. Keep a pen and pad on hand. Make like Richard Branson and carry pen and paper (or your smartphone) to catch any useful thought that may come to mind. Up the creativity ante and make your own moleskin DIY style.
15. Shut off social media. Sayonara, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Social media can be a huge time suck. Studies have found that it can take up a significant chunk of time at the office, and may even predict lower grades in school. Make it a habit to unplug whenever you need to get something done.
16. “Eat the frogs.” We swear it’s a real term. Each day, once you've figured out your Most Important Tasks, do the task you’re least looking forward to first. That way, you'll get it out of the way early and feel super productive, to boot. (No guarantees Prince Charming will emerge.)
17. Slow down. Read. This. Slowly. Getting stuff done isn’t always a matter of making it to the finish line first. Take time to reflect, brainstorm, and recharge. The added energy will make you that much more productive when you put your nose back to the grindstone.
18. Track time. Take a day to record how much time is spent writing emails, reading blogs, texting, etc. You may be surprised at how much time certain activities (ahem, browsing Pinterest) take up every day. Once you've figured out how your time is being used up, make it a point to prioritize what really matters to you (and cut out what doesn't).
19. Don’t bounce around. Box off a specific amount of time for every task on your to-do list each day. Assign a chunk of the day for one project, and stay focused on that project during its designated time. Once that time is up, move on to the next mission.
21 Germiest Places You're Not Cleaning: Headphones
20. Tune out. Those headphones will help tune out any distractions. Plus, coworkers and friends may be less likely to interrupt if they see we’re tuned in.
21. Look back. Schedule some time toward the end of each week to reflect on what you accomplished and make any necessary schedule tweaks for the following week.
22. Set triggers. Leave reminders around your workspace and home to help you remember what needs to get done. Place bills that need to be paid or books to be read out in the open, and stick post-it reminders on the fridge!
23. Eat well. What we scarf down for lunch may do more than satisfy hunger. Certain foods, like salmon, almonds, and carrots, can give us a much-needed boost of energy. So forgo the take-out and be picky at the cafeteria!
24. De-clutter. Get rid of anything that may cause distractions. Put away the dishes, fold clothes, and get rid of excess papers on the desk so you're less likely to get sidetracked. Up the ante by implementing some Feng Shui principles in your workspace.
25. Say no. Don’t stretch yourself too thin. Learning to say no—to going out for drinks when you're tired, to extra projects when you're swamped—keeps us focused, prevents overwhelm, and may even ward off sickness.
26. Take a break. Carve out some quality "you" time each day to keep a balance between the busy world and your own inner life.
27. Download help. Still need to get sh!t done? Luckily there’s an app for that.
Here's a link to the article if you want to copy and paste it in your browser:
Hope that helps!
I start my day with Simpleology which is basically a task list and idea depository. As eddy said "Start with your current projects. You know what you have committed to, You know what deliverables you have"
I allot 1.5 nours per day approx for all my admin, email and planning. The rest of the day is broken between client meetings, on Air and client work. I also have a half day a week for follow-up which includes calls and strategies and new prospects.
One successful tool is to create your ideal or dream schedule. For example, block out the hours you want to schedule prospective sales time (for example M-W-F mornings) and target blocks of time for your existing customer service work (for example T-W-R afternoons). Schedule and block out time for the other important things on your schedule. Then when you make appointments for the different activities, you schedule them in the appropriate block of time on your calendar. This assures that you have time for everything that matters to you.
I always did it 2 ways...By making sure the long term needs of my productive work times were not short changed by doing more of the mundane easier things...It is easy to go through the easier day to day tasks sometimes than to plan presentations and follow-up for existing and new customers...The other method was to figure out my hours working per year, and the hours spent prospecting and my return on time and hours spent doing existing work for clients and the profitability of the endeavors...Also figure out which comes easiest to you and make sure the hard parts are addressed as needed...It is so hard to get a sale, but easy to lose one...So you are correct in working on balance of each...
The best way to prioritize your time is review your pipeline and decide whether you need more enquires? or more orders? to achieve budget. You will know whether you have enough enquiries by viewing your conversion rate.
Working with existing customers can provide extra income, by ensuring your customers know about all your services.
Streamlining your work day should be easier when you can answer the questions.
1. Know your top priorities i.e. most urgent and important tasks, clients, prospects, etc..
2. Organize your time to address these top priorities first.
3. Then tackle the rest in order of priorities
4. Delegate as much of the less important work to employees and others as possible
5. Evaluate how well you have spent your time on a daily basis. Eliminate all time wasters.
6. If you don't see significant improvements, you need to hire an effective expert in time management and setting priorities to help you out.
Hope this helps.
As a business owner, it seems as if there are not enough time in the day to perform all your duties. I understand where you coming from, I juggle many projects for different clients. I schedule each project daily. I start 9 am - 11 on a project. 11-2 on another, 2- 5 on one, and 5 - 8 on the last (timezone different) I put all on a calendar and set alerts for when its time to work on each. I say get up at 7:30 to perform your marketing duties for your business. This is what I do. I get up when kids get on school bus and stay up working on marketing my business and then working on clients work.
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
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.
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
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.
What I do is put my meetings with clients and prospects into the middle of the week and do the actual work at the beginning and end of the week. I'd also recommend keeping a white board on hand with high priority tasks on it, which help you to focus on what really needs to be done versus just doing busy work.
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.
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.