Most people come back to work in January, a little bit more relaxed, a little bit rounder and a little bit pinker from those balmy summer days spent poolside. Most people also head back to work full of optimism and promise for the year ahead.
The reality is, though, we often just fall straight back into old habits, and by the time the Easter Bunny comes around, we’re making the same mistakes and feeling the same stress and anxiety levels as last year. All of a sudden, those positive changes you meant to make in January are now sitting next to the Fit Bit you thought would transform your life. But that’s all a bit too pessimistic for our liking. Inspired by the optimism and newness of the year, we’ve come up with four super simple, super practical tips to help your 2017 goals stick. No gimmicks, no need for a highly priced planner that will help you track your gratefulness, no need to wake up half an hour earlier to do meditation and drink your green smoothie. Just some tough love, and a handy dose of practicality.
1. Deal with procrastination head on.
We ALL do it. Some of us are way better than others at it, but procrastination is present in everyone’s life. When it’s a mild case, a slight detour on Facebook, while you should have been writing your latest business post, is fine! We all need down time. Sometimes we can come up with the best ideas when we’re daydreaming our To-Do list away! But when it’s excessive, when you find you’re spending more time thinking or organising yourself for a job, rather than just doing it, you may have a bigger problem to deal with. The only way to deal with procrastination is to understand why you’re doing it. This process calls for some pretty honest reviewing and well, having a long hard look at yourself! You need to figure out why you keep getting stuck in the procrastination cycle to break it. Why are you avoiding a task? Some common reasons can be the lack of belief in your abilities – you don’t think you can do a task, so you put it off. This is a tricky one because it comes down to your confidence level. If you’re struggling with your confidence, a quick review of your past achievements, a chat with your business mentor or trusted friend can help restore your belief that you CAN do the job.
Sometimes it’s because a task is overwhelming, it seems too big, and you don’t know where to start. Well, Maria von Trapp said it best – Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start! Take time to thoroughly understand what is needed to tackle the task, then break it down into smaller steps, figure out what you need to do in list form, then get cracking with Item 1!
Whatever the reason, you need to take a look at WHY you’re procrastinating; then you can look at some practical steps to help you tackle it head on.
2. Be Realistic and get accurate with estimates.
The number one killer for good Time Management is unrealistic expectations about what you can achieve in a day. So it’s time to start tracking your tasks. There are numerous online tools to help you track your time, like Harvest or MyHours, so it’s time to get ‘tr-acking’ and accurately record your hours so you can get an understanding of how you actually spend your time, rather than how you think you spend your time. Once you know that reconciling the books every day takes you an hour, rather than the 15mins you think it does, you’ll start to schedule your day better and setting attainable deadlines for tasks.
3. Have an admin day in your schedule.
Business admin can be a killer. Planning your marketing activities, making sure you’ve followed up on your leads or made sure you BAS is up-to-date can suck up the time. So it’s well worth scheduling in an admin day into your calendar. Find your Mondays aren’t super productive for cranking out the work? Turn them into admin days, and use the whole day to respond to emails, schedule meetings, plan your week, invoicing. By taking those tasks out of your daily workflow, you’re free to crack on with actual work or client meetings, rather than get to 4:30 pm and realise you still need to do 2 hours worth of admin. Of course, it’s flexible; maybe two half days are better than one for you! But by sticking to an admin schedule and planning your time accordingly, you can take the stress out of the week and stop trying to squeeze important tasks into any spare 10mins you might have.
4. Accept all sides of business ownership and Just. Do. It.
You started your business because you love doing what you do. But in every dream job, there are elements that you would rather not have to do. Being the ‘wearer of all the hats’ can be very tiring. You might have started your business because you liked working with people and hate the admin side of it. You might love the books, but hate having to put yourself out there and market yourself. Whatever your passion, it’s important to spend a majority of your time on those tasks, but the more you neglect the ‘other side’ of business ownership, the worse the problem will get. A bit like facing procrastination head-on, you need to accept that those tasks are just part your life as a business owner (until you can outsource them!) and just do them. As soon as you accept and embrace all aspects of business ownership, you’ll find those ‘annoying’ tasks aren’t as hard as they once were, after all, they allow you to ‘live the dream’ and do what you love every day!
So there you have it. No magic formula, no special purchases needed. Time Management isn’t a gift that some people have, and others don’t. It’s just a series of small steps that together will make your workday smoother and more productive. What are your top tips for tackling procrastination? Do you have a work routine that helps you tackle the small stuff? Tell us below and keep the conversation happening!