It’s a new year and I’m sure you’re feeling excited, energized and ready to take on the world. I want you to be more productive than ever this year so I’ve got 15 simple hacks to be more productive and less stressed this year.
1. Figure out your 80/20 tasks
There is no shortage of things you can do to promote your business but you don’t have to do everything. Not everything matters. You just need to choose the best ways to reach your ideal client and focus on those. The 80/20 rule tells us that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. Focus on that 20%.
I’ve found that the items on an average wedding professional’s to-do list do not line up with the reality of the time available so I want to challenge you to plan out your week and only focus on revenue generating activities. To do this, ask yourself where do your customers come from. If you’re not already asking your clients this question, start now and go back to previous clients and ask them. Look at your Google Analytics and see where you’re getting the most of your traffic from and focus on those sources.
2. Stop doing things that don’t bring you closer to your goals
Not everything you do is actually moving you toward your goals. You’re probably doing things like spending time on certain social media networks that just aren’t moving the needle for you. You have my permission to stop doing things that don’t move you closer to your goals. If you don’t want to full out stop them, cut back the time you spend on them, outsource them or automate them.
3. Decide the top 3 things you need to get done the night before
If you’re anything like me, if you don’t have your priorities for the day set you spend time dicking around before you get anything done. The easiest way to eliminate this uncertainty in the morning is to decide on the top 3 things that need to get done the night before. That way you’ll wake up knowing what needs to be done and can start your day with intention.
4. Schedule your tasks
One thing that really helps me is scheduling my tasks. I take my top 3 priorities and schedule them in blocks into my Google Calendar. This is really simple but it lets you see at a glance what you need to do without seeing all the other things on your to do list.
5. Outsource things aren’t the best use of your time
You can’t do everything and you don’t have to. If you hate doing your bookkeeping and put it off until it becomes a massive burden, just delegate it to someone who enjoys it. Instead of wasting your time doing this task, you can delegate it to a bookkeeper for a very reasonable cost. This frees up your time to generate more business which is what really matters. Honestly I am SO happy to hand over money to my accountant. Every year they save me money by finding deductions and do my taxes which I HATE and would procrastinate.
People look at the most successful people in the world and see that they don’t spend their time doing tasks they hate but they assume this is a perk of being successful. In actuality, this is how you become successful. By building a team and training them properly you can essentially clone yourself. There are some things that only you can do, but most things can be done by someone who is particularly good at that specific task.
You don’t even have to hire an employee, you can hire a virtual assistant to help you. Take some time and look through sites like Upwork, Fiverr and Hire My Mom to find out what sorts of tasks other people are delegating.
6. Use tools to automate
Technology is for more than just smartphones & Netflix. It can make your life SO much easier by allowing you to automate tasks that you would otherwise have to spend time doing manually. Time is like money and you have to budget. This is a great way to save time! I have a lot of tools I love for this, click here to find out all about them.
7. Batch similar tasks
Batching is simple and amazing. It’s just grouping similar tasks together so that you can use momentum to get through all of them. I do this with a lot of things including writing, scheduling social media updates, recording podcasts, and it makes my life a LOT easier. I set aside a few hours (if that) to write and schedule all of my social media posts for the month and then I don’t have to worry about it for an entire month.
Often times the hardest part of completing any task is just getting started and batching allows you to avoid that hurdle. Batching can also be applied to things like client meetings, phone calls, accounting, etc.
8. Streamline your systems
Your systems is what keeps your business running smoothly. If you don’t have streamlined systems set up, it can really slow you down. For example, how do you schedule initial consultations with potential clients? Do you rewrite that email or use a template? Do you send them to a tool like Calendly to choose a date & time or do you go back and forth over and over via email? Do you only do consultations on certain days so you can batch them or is it all over the place? Systems aren’t sexy but they give you your time back and that is sexy.
9. Set shorter term goals
Remember in school when you were told you had a big paper due at the end of the semester? You put it off until the last day before it was due didn’t you? That’s what we do when the date seems too far away to matter and it’s why setting shorter term goals is so much better.
Setting a year long goal is really hard and things may change along the way. Instead, set shorter term goals that you can measure and know you’ve achieved. You could do 30 days, 90 days, 100 days, whatever works for you.
10. Set deadlines and hard stop times
When you put off writing that paper for class until the night before you stayed up and got it done didn’t you? It didn’t take you a full semester, it took you a few hours. Why is that?
Parkinson’s Law is why. Parkinson’s Law states that a task will expand and fill the time available for it to be completed. That means that it doesn’t matter if you give yourself 3 hours or 3 days to finish that client proposal. It will take as long as you give it. This is why deadlines and hard stop times are so important. If you set a timer for a set amount of time (and a reasonable about of time, but push yourself a bit) to do a task you’re much more likely to get it done in that time. Give it a try!
11. Schedule your personal time off & non-negotiables first
If you don’t schedule your personal & non-negotiable tasks in first, your other to do’s will bleed over into them. You have to protect them by putting them into your calendar first because they’re most important. Non-negotiables are the things that you need for you and the things that you value most. These are usually recurring things like your daily morning ritual, your workout time, time with your kids, downtime with your partner – you know, life.
Once you have your non-negotiables & time off scheduled you can then add in your work time and schedule client meetings around the things that matter most to you and not the other way around. For more about scheduling your day click here.
12. Track your time
Many people are busy for the sake of being busy but aren’t actually getting anything done. After all, you can be really busy digging a ditch with a teaspoon but you’re not going to get anywhere.
Do you really know what you’re doing all day? It’s so easy to go into autopilot mode and ignore how we are spending our time, but I promise if you write down how you spend your time for just a week you’ll find that you’re actually wasting a lot of it. This is as easy as tracking the tasks & time you spend in a notebook as you go or set aside 5 minutes at the end of the day to review and do this.
Prefer to use a tool? Use a simple free time tracking tool like Toggl. RescueTime will actually monitor what you do on your computer and report to you how much time you’re spending on certain sites & applications. You’ll finally see just how much time you spend in your inbox or on Facebook watching cat videos.
13. Schedule recurring appointments
I love recurring appointments in Google Calendar. They keep me on track with so many things. There are certain things that need to get done on a regular basis in your business and there is no sense trying to keep that in your head and remember to do it. Your brain has better things to do. Schedule recurring appointments for those weekly, monthly & quarterly things that need to get done in your business and you’ll never forget about them again.
14. Schedule CEO dates
You’ll never know if you’re on track with your goals unless you stop and measure. After all, what gets measured gets improved. CEO dates are regular meetings with yourself where you go over the key metrics for your business & goals. This might be the number of people who scheduled a consult, number of booked clients, email subscribers, revenue, etc.
Your numbers are going to vary depending on your business & what your goals are but if you don’t set aside time on a regular basis at least once a month, you’ll never know if you’re actually moving forward or backward. You might feel like you’re moving forward but check with the numbers, they never lie.
15. If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it right now
This is a super simple tip that I learned a few years ago that really changed things for me. If you know it’s only going to take 5 minutes to do something, do it now. There is no sense putting of something that small and it’s only going to add to the overwhelm later.
Here’s to a more productive and profitable year!