Oh September, how we love you.
You turn the leaves from green to red and yellow, you put cosy knits on boutique shelves, you whisk PSL’s back onto the menus of our favourite coffee shops, you put our children back onto buses, you resume our daily routines, and you make us busy. Oh, so, busy.
September often represents a fresh slate: emails fly through the internets, campaigns launch, afterschool programs commence, and photo sessions hit the top of to-do lists. Before we know it, our calendars start to look like overpacked suitcases and by now you’re probably starting to wonder how you’ll get through it all. You’re still only one person after all.
Then you recall the elusive unicorn referred to as balance. Something that we all dream of achieving, and perhaps we do from time to time, but it seems unlikely that we can ever hold onto it.
Today I want to share 5 ways that I am going to work smarter and not harder now that I find myself on the other side of the busiest month of the year.
1. Outsource + delegate
Ask yourself one question each time you set out to execute a task. Does this need to be done by me? In some cases, the answer will be a definite yes. In other cases, when you really think about it, you may find that more often than you realized you are spending time completing tasks that could be done by just about anyone. Take some time to really drill down on where your time is best spent, and where you can offload. For example, does it make sense for you to sacrifice your own billable hours to be doing something someone else might do for less than your billable rate? Make sure that where you are spending your time makes economic sense.
2. Get organized
It is one of those polarizing terms: organize. In one ear, I hear my mother harping about what needed to be done to the bedroom of my teenage years. In the other ear, I hear the seamlessness of a thought out schedule, tidy cupboards and balanced books. To get from disorganized to organised, think of it in tiny micro-steps. Step one? Carve out 30 minutes this week to structure your workweek. While you’re structuring, don’t forget to include some time for yourself: in the bathtub with a glass of wine, or whatever it is you need to do to recharge.
3. Simplify + cut the fluff
Ok entrepreneurs, how much do we love to overcomplicate things? How much do we love to seek an opportunity, offer a new service, take on a new client or project? For the most part, many of us are really bad at saying No. It’s hardwired into our DNA. But here’s the thing, there can be beauty in simplicity. Take a moment and turn inward on your business. Make a mental note of what’s working, what isn’t working, what is bringing in revenue and what might have been a failed experiment. Make a pact with yourself to focus on what is working and cut out the rest.
4. Systems + workflow
Chances are there are things in your work life that are hyper-repetitive, things that you do over and over. If you’ve been in the business for a long time, these processes may have even become mindless routine. These are also things that should be easily handed off to just about anyone else (see #1 above). For example, a client inquires about pricing, you send a thank you email and ask a few questions, they respond, you send your pricing document, and two days later a follow up email, and then you begin to toss around dates until a meeting is secured, then you send a deposit invoice. Find cycles like this one in your business, write out your process (including email templates) into a document, and hand that off to someone else so that your job is reduced to only the parts that need YOU.
It is no secret, technology will often be able to complete a task less expensively than person-hours. Find ways to automate your processes using as little human interaction as possible. For example, a software like calendly can secure your client bookings, or platforms like paypal.me can automate deposit payments, programs like Pixieset with email templates can take care of communication and deliverables, Google forms can gather and file pertinent client information. Take it a step further and design your website so that it takes your clients through sales funnels, guiding the process from finding you, to getting hired with minimal touchpoints.
Ok, I need to know: what have you put in place in your business to work smarter and not harder? What tasks do you delegate, what systems have you put into place, what automation tools and software have you discovered?
Tell me, tell me, please!