I’ve adored the summer holidays and I’m gutted they’re drawing to a close. I saw a post on Facebook this morning that said “August is like the Sunday of summer” and it felt like it fit perfectly, I have that Sunday night feeling and it really is a bit of an anti-climax.
That being said, if I’m brutally honest with you I’m in dire need of the routine that comes with the return to school. I like to think of myself as a free spirit both personally and professionally but no matter how hard I try, when I lack a routine of some sort everything goes a bit haywire.
The set wake up times, the meal time planning/prepping and the dedicated times to do the chores (laundry/ironing/hoovering/bathroom cleaning) means that in general the weeks run smoothly, not much gets forgotten and I feel like I can breathe because the foundations are solid.
Being self-employed, I have found the freedom completely and utterly liberating and already I can’t imagine going back to working someone else’s 9-5. However, there are still foundations to maintain and no matter what you hear on the internet and from your self-employed friends social media accounts, you do need to do some sort of routine in order to nurture that foundation.
I can tell you an abundance of ways that you can build a routine into your business and I can certainly tell you where someone like me would come in handy but I’m trying not to make this blog post a sales pitch. Instead I’m going to share with you 5 things you can build into your routine that will improve productivity and in essence, your business. We will talk about housekeeping, social media, meetings, goal setting and time blocking.
Housekeeping – not just for your personal life!
It’s easy to get caught up in what’s going on right now in your business and it’s important you take care of that BUT it is essential that you do a small amount of housekeeping every single day. Consider it like brushing your teeth – not the most fun thing but a few minutes out of your life for the greater, long term good. Schedule yourself 10 minutes for housekeeping every day (end of the day works for me). Use it to:
Bin/shred unnecessary paperwork/clutter.
Check emails – delete spam WITHOUT reading it and prioritise the rest (I colour using the categories button the ones that must be done the next morning).
Check your schedule for the next day, send reminders of meetings/calls etc. and make sure you have everything ready that you will need.
Clean your work space (I love an antibacterial wipe – don’t google what bacteria is found on a keyboard you will never look at your laptop the same way again).
Make sure everything is charging/charged and is put away where possible.
Nearly all businesses will be using social media now. It can however, be a huge time sucker. I know I find myself sucked into the void more often than I care to admit! If you have outsourced your socials that’s great but as a small business you still need to ensure that this is your authentic voice and resonates with your company. If you haven’t outsourced then you need to find a way of incorporating it into your routine without it becoming so resource draining.
If you are doing it yourself schedule some time each week or month (2 hours if weekly or a day if monthly) to create content, pull graphics/create the text etc. and schedule accordingly. Diarise this time and do not let it go because this is a huge vortex if done as and when. Always keep your strategy, branding and ideal client in mind when creating content.
Allow yourself 10/20 minutes a day to interact on there you don’t have to set a specific time slot but I find taking a couple of minutes a few times a day whilst waiting for the kettle to boil is enough. Make sure you are responding if someone comments and following up if you have used a call to action. Also use that time to comment on and engage with people who you are trying to connect with/whose content resonates with you. Building business is about building relationships and is not and should not be, all one way.
If you have outsourced, schedule in a regular call with your VA/Agency etc. You need to make sure that the content is on brand, is suitable for your audience and to regularly re-evaluate the analytics and strategy that you have agreed.
If your business requires that you meet with clients whether that be in person or otherwise then you will find that your diary will get eaten up very quickly if these are spread out, especially if you simply put them in as and when they crop up.
The most successful entrepreneur businesses I know schedule particular days per week for this purpose and rarely deviate. Some go so far as to delegate a specific day of the week to their existing clients i.e. client call Tuesday.
This works especially well because both parties can have it as a regular event in their calendar, it allows you to pull together analytical info for your clients, check you’re on the same page and take note of anything new to be incorporated. It also means your clients know when they have your undivided attention and they will be able to discuss any questions/concerns and successes with you too.Another benefit is that you will not be scrambling for a meeting as it’s already scheduled. It’s also something you can put into play at the start of your relationship and tweak as time goes on.
In addition I’ve found that dedicating a half day or similar to doing the same with potential clients really helps. If you love your tags and social media then you could call it #followupfriday! Having time dedicated to this means you rarely miss an opportunity and also that you are continuing to build business.
I hope that you have big business goals and that you have broken that down into bite size chunks. I also hope that you regularly celebrate achieving these steps to the greater goal and review where you are at and what you’re aiming for. It shouldn’t stop there though, you should have an idea of what you want your business to achieve on the daily. I certainly find that having a daily goal helps me work with purpose and working with that purpose means that I am consistently working towards those bite size chunks and ultimately the big hug goal(s).
At the start of the week I have a plan of 3 things I want to achieve in that week, I make a note of them and check them off as necessary, I also do a Sunday review of them. One of the many things I do in the morning, is enjoy my first brew and the process of choosing one thing I need to achieve that day. I write that down too (personally I put this at the top of my notepad just so that it’s always there as I use a new sheet everyday).
It works on a number of levels. Firstly it reduces the overwhelm you sometimes feel with big goals. It also means that I feel a sense of direction which makes me more productive. Not to mention it makes me feel really good when it’s done and as though I can switch off that evening with a job well done mentality.
I love this method of scheduling and have been a fan of it for many years. I use it for my housework/my business etc. and it works wonders. So much so in fact that I have written a post specifically about it!
Time blocking can be done on a daily or weekly basis. Since setting up The Amy Johnson I now do a little of both. Being a single mum running my own home and business I am well aware that if I over block or over schedule any little deviation could throw me out of balance and make me feel an unnecessary level of stress. I do sit down on a Sunday and time block for a number of things, I use weekly time blocking to help me with all of the above. I literally set an alarm on my phone during these time blocked periods and ONLY work on the thing I have scheduled it for. Once the timer goes I stop. No arguments.
In the mornings whilst I am contemplating my one overall goal for the day and baring my schedule in mind, I check a few things off of my list by time blocking for them. Checking/responding to my emails – totally time block this. I time block a break where I make sure I eat something and do something completely not business related. Finally I time block some point in my day to do something that will improve my skills/knowledge and understanding. Dependant on what each day looks like this could be a 30 minute block of time after dinner listening to a podcast or audio book. It could be working through something on the amazing business programme I have purchased or it could be watching you tube videos from industry leaders.
Time blocking gives me a sense of order and you will be surprised with the amount of energy you put into something when you have a dedicated but limited time for the job.
As a virtual assistant I highly recommend implementing all of the above into your routines and I also recommend you working with your virtual assistant/team and even family on adding these in together.
These small elements are tools in all of our arsenals and really do increase overall productivity. Implementing them also frees up the essential time needed to think and digest.
If you would like help to put your systems in place then contact me here and I will be in touch.
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Thank you for reading,