Friday?? Don’t be ridiculous, it’s Wednesday… isn’t it? How is that possible? Where did my week go? I didn’t finish half the things I wanted to! If you feel like that at the end of the week, you’re certainly not alone. But don’t worry, I’m going to show you three simple steps you can take to set up systems and processes in your business to protect your time and energy and make sure that your week doesn’t just disappear into the ether.
Identify where that time *really* went
We think we know, but the picture in our heads is usually a little bit different from the harsh reality. The only way to get the real information is to track it. To give yourself a decent overview, record everything you do in your business day for at least a couple of weeks. Use a tool like Toggl to make this easier, just press the button and off you go.
I’m going to give you a fair warning when you see the results, there’s a good chance that you’ll be a little bit horrified. But trust me, it’s worth it to figure out where your time is really going.
Set up the systems you need to keep you out of time traps
Now you’ve got the data in front of you, what are your danger zones? And what systems and processes can you set up to keep you out of them?
Here are a few examples to get the wheels turning:
Content Marketing & Social Media
This one is a biggie for so many business owners. You sit down to write an Instagram caption and two hours later, you realise you’re still flipping through the Reels you just “checked out for a second” for inspiration.
Set up a content repurposing system where you create a single piece of core content each week. This can be a video, blog post or podcast, whichever is your favourite. Then break that up into smaller pieces to use across your social media, your email marketing etc.
To avoid getting sucked into the endless scroll, rather than dipping in and out, get into a routine of having set times to check your social media each day. Do all your commenting, replying and engaging at once, and use a scheduler to load up a batch of posts in advance, so you reduce the temptation to get diverted when you do log on.
Are you spending ages going back and forth answering queries from team members or contractors throughout the week? Can you set up a process where your team members dump all their questions into one dedicated Slack thread that you check once or twice a day – whatever frequency works for your business? Combine this with a 15-minute weekly meeting to work through and sort out any blocks.
Are the questions because your team members want to make sure they’re doing things the “right” way and so they’re looking for clarification from you on what that is? Set up some Standard Operating Procedures for the key tasks in your business. This sounds much fancier than it is; basically you want to record the key steps for each job, so everyone who needs it has a template to follow each time.
This doesn’t have to get complicated. Next time the task is done, jot down the most important steps in a Google doc or use a video tool like Loom to record the screen as you’re doing it – just remember to narrate each step as you do. Bonus points for getting a transcription of the video afterwards and turning this into a bullet point version of the process. That way, you or your team member can refer back to a particular point if needed without having to rewatch the whole video.
Planning & Prioritising
Are you spending more time deciding what to do than actually doing it? It might be time to look at your planning process. Do you set aside time each quarter and month to plan ahead? Are you checking your progress on a weekly/daily basis in between? Working reactively in your business, just tackling whatever comes up as most urgent, is a huge time and energy drain, so it’s worth spending time on getting strategic. If you’re not in the habit of planning, start small. At the end of each day, review:
✦ What you’ve done
✦ What didn’t get done
✦ What are the most important things to tackle tomorrow? Keep the list nice and manageable, three or four main tasks at most.
This way, you’ll always know what your true priorities are when you sit down to work.
Task & Project Management
Once you’ve got into the planning habit, it’s time to get all those tasks into somewhere you can actually keep track of them. Use a project management tool to help you organise what needs to be done, when and by who in your business. It can also help you manage the ‘how,’if you add in those SOPs, that I mentioned earlier.
Now instead of having to sift through all the tasks in your head and make decisions on what’s most important before you even start working, you just sit down, check your project management tool and get going on your top priority for the day. ClickUp is a favourite of mine, but Asana and Trello are good options too – it really depends on your own preferences and the needs of your business.
These are just a few examples of some of the black holes time can disappear into in your business. You may have different challenges, but thanks to the data you’ve got from your time tracking, you’ll be able to identify some common themes and figure out an approach to address them that works for you.
Test, tweak and try again
Now you’re clear on the system and processes you need to implement, it’s time to test, review and tweak as needed. Keep tracking your time and take another look at the results after a couple of weeks. Have your new systems and processes helped? If not, why not? Be honest, are you sticking to the system? Do you just need more time for the new routines to bed in, or is there something that’s really not working for you? If that’s the case then look at what you need to do differently and adjust. Systems only work if they work for you, so make sure that you spend the necessary time to get things set up in a way that flows for you and your business.
Well-designed systems and processes can help you conserve your time and energy for the important things in your business… and your life. And it doesn’t have to be about fancy software or techie tools, although these can definitely help! Sometimes it’s just a case of figuring out a better routine… an easier way of doing things to give you some extra space and time to focus.
So you can close the laptop on a Friday evening and enjoy whatever you’ve got planned for the weekend. Without worrying that you’ve missed something important or feeling guilty that you “should” be doing more. Because that’s definitely not why you started your business!
If you do try this out, let me know how you get on. What were the biggest time and energy drains in your business? And if you need some support to figure out what you could do to knock them on the head, get in touch and let’s have a chat to see if I can help.
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