There are only so many hours in the day.
Are you making the most of them?
Are you getting the best out of your day?
Getting all the jobs done properly, or creating more work for yourself by chipping away at a task when you have a little time?
Here are what I see as time management secrets. I went on a time management course years ago, where they said “just delete emails, if they are important they’ll send them again” I mean, I am not sure how that would go down with my clients? I’m guessing I would have no clients by the end of the week! So, practical tips here.
Easier said than done isn’t it. I hear it all the time. All of your customers and clients are important, in their heads they are your most important client of course. But if you agree deadlines in advance, you know where they are so stick to them. Deadlines must be your priority, not the #internationalcatday cat selfie you had to take 5 times or the new gadget you are pondering over on Amazon.
2. Track your time
Clockify has changed my working life! Available online or via app, this freebie tracks your time. So simple, no account, no bank details, it remembers me every day when I log in. You can start the clock, or input the time retrospectively. You can flag your time as billable and non billable, segment by project, client, and task then later, filter to see what you have actually been spending your time on. You can narrow it down by day, week, month etc or by client and export a spreadsheet free of charge. For me this was an eye opener of how much time was billable and how much was non billable.
The Excel exports are really helpful for producing accurate client invoices, they are also free.
You guessed it, delegate or outsource to a Virtual Assistant. Find a VA with the right skill set for you and your business, to complement your skills, with an industry relevant or background, who can complete the tasks you need support on.
4. Remove temptation
If you have a deadline, ring fence your time. Manage client expectations, let people know you are not available. You have an answerphone, you have email, people can leave you a message you can respond to later, alternatively arrange to divert your calls or setup a Voip, to your VA. Step away from the social media, don’t get sucked into Philip Schofield memes and insta photos of puddings.
5. Time track everything
All of it, not just your time on the laptop. Meetings, travel, client appointments, client calls, track it all to see where your precious time is going.
6. Schedule calls
Where you can, plan call time. Plan ahead, when you arrange a call send a meeting request with an end time! That way you know and they know how long it should take, or at least you can remind yourself to speed things up. Set an agenda for the call, you both know what needs to be achieved and what you have to crack through to make productive and efficient use of your time. At the start of the call remind your fellow caller how much time there is for the call, check that’s OK, you might have another call to jump on, or only a certain amount of time to shoot the breeze and then get down to business.
Review your time tracking report
So if your to do list isn’t getting any smaller, the same stuff stays on there week in and week out, or monthly… or, oh no quarterly, if you feel like some projects are moving at a snail’s pace, maybe there simply is not enough time for one person to get it all done, no matter how many hours you are throwing at your workload.
Outsourcing is a great option, adhoc, long term, you choose. You find the right person for the job, short term or on a repeat basis, what range of skills does that person have that means they can help you longer term?
It’s just not happening
Juggling deadlines, postponing projects can only go on for so long before you hit the realisation that something needs to change, you’ll be exhausted, overwhelmed and likely treading water. If those projects aren’t that important, take them off the list. If however they are long overdue, and you need someone to help pick up the pace, consider your options. A VA costs you their hourly rate and some of your time to hand over, no setup fee, no finders fee, no software fee, no holiday fee, the list goes on.
Create a plan and stick to it. Get help.
Which tasks can you outsource to achieve your plan?
The boring stuff: expenses, admin, paperwork, forms
The techie stuff: website amends and updates, marketing automation, data stuff
Call handling: sifting calls
Enquiries inbox management: separating the spam from the potentials
Scheduling calls and meetings: email ping pong of dates and times
Diary management: be in one place at one time
Scheduling meeting follow ups
Filing: saves you time when you need to find it again
Don’t spend loads of time on making lists, plans, prioritising and leave yourself no time for doing and delivering.
Also, don’t forget you need time for family, hobbies, reading books, learning, keeping fit, eating!
There may be busy periods where you need help, and times of the year when you don’t, freelance Virtual Assistants can be booked in advance, with a number of hours or a project agreed, providing the utmost in flexibility. Is it time you considered outsourcing some of your small business tasks? Probably is if you are reading this. Now go and get yourself on Clockify.
About Virtual Executive Services MK
Virtual Executive Services MK is a Virtual Assistant service based in Milton Keynes, supporting clients across the UK. Specialising in admin, marketing and social media support for small businesses, start ups and entrepreneurs. Find out more.