Is the constant connection to your work life, through digital communications and/or post-COVID hybrid work, affecting your efficiency? You are not alone. To tackle this increasing challenge, we need to think outside the box and try something new. Here’s why and how:
Work-life balance is a myth.
Yikes, that’s a bit gloomy isn’t it! What I mean is, the old ways that supported balance just don’t cut it anymore;
This increasing lack of division between your work and personal life inevitably leads to work being dragged out even longer throughout the day, and it’s no wonder productivity wanders. What you really want to do is achieve more in less time, so that you can then truly enjoy your free time. But how?
While there are certainly complexities and challenges with hybrid working and constant tech connection, you actually have more freedom than ever to write your own rules. But, you do need to spend some time identifying your personal idiosyncrasies and then use them to your advantage – no book, coach, or one-size-fits-all strategy can assist.
Efficiencies should be embedded across your business and positively impact time, cost and operational factors of your business. Here we share some strategies that go beyond ‘write a to do list’ in our quest for optimal efficiency.
You’ve probably heard all about time blocking by now, the time management method that helps you to plan your day effectively and stay on task. But what about Eric Barker’s 5 hour rule? The rule is you MUST work for 5 hours every day – no ifs, whats, or buts about it. He recommends pressing start and stop on a stopwatch to truly track how much time is spent doing productive work each day – and no, checking emails and social media doesn’t count toward your time entries! Try it out for a week and see how you go – if nothing else, it’s an interesting exercise in seeing how much of all those ‘work’ hours are actually spent productively.
So often I hear busy business owners complain about all the everyday tasks they need to get done in a week, leaving them with no time for the actual growth and strategy of their business. If you’re getting caught up in the nuts and bolts of your business, try booking dedicated ‘CEO time’ into your calendar where you only focus on the strategy and growth side of your business. Some business owners do this weekly, others fortnightly, or even quarterly – do what works best for you and your business, but don’t put it off and commit to it.
Prioritising your to-do list seems obvious, but how do you set priorities when everything on your list ‘needs to be done’? I like this tweet by @jdesmondharris;
“I started dividing my to-do list into 1) things I have to do, 2) things I want to do, and 3) things other people want me to do. Life changing! I often don’t get to 3 and I finally realised omg, is this what it means to have boundaries?!”.
That’s right, good prioritisation starts with good boundaries. Do the work that you need to do, and then the work that you want to do… and then see how much time you have left for things that others want.
How many times a day do you stop what you’re doing for a ‘quick job’? You might see a notification pop up, or you remember a forgotten task… but every time you stop a big task for a small one, you waste time getting back in the zone. Instead of stopping what you’re doing when you’re distracted, quickly scribble it down on a post-it. Set aside 30 minutes a day to do as many of those things you jotted down as you can. You’ll find you can smash out these little tasks much quicker in a block, and be more focused on those bigger tasks without stopping and starting all day.
No, seriously. You might think tackling your emails first thing in the morning keeps you on top of them, but nothing is that urgent. If you start your day in your inbox, you’re likely to get stuck there till lunchtime, or even later. Tackle your most important tasks first thing, and leave the emails till later in the day. Try starting your day with a piece of ‘deep work’. Not only will feel so incredibly productive for having ticked it off first up, but it will also create a highly productive mindset for the day ahead.
Standard Operating Procedures aren’t anything new – but being innovative in how you capture them can be. Most businesses stick to a good old Word doc for their documentation and then wonder why the SOPs aren’t used, and the same mistakes keep occurring. Consider the demographic, skill set, job function and location of your staff, and use this as a guide for the best way to capture your SOPs.
Anyone in business knows the importance of a good brief when you’re working on a new project. But have you heard of the power of a reverse brief? Reverse briefing is basically parroting back a brief to the client or your coworker, but in your own words. This allows you to demonstrate your understanding of the project, and ensure all parties are on the same page. Investing time in a reverse brief is indeed efficient, as miscommunication, mistakes and misunderstandings are avoided and time is saved by reducing reworks and circular conversations.
If you want to take your boundaries to the next level, use built-in features like ‘focus mode’ on your phone and browser. Available on iOS and Android devices, as well as most browsers, focus mode lets you set up different time periods when certain apps will ping, and others don’t. Each focus period is customisable and triggered by the date and time parameters you set. If you’re easily distracted by social media, you can turn these off during work hours. If you want family time of an evening, you can choose to have email notifications blocked from 5pm, but keep chatsApps like Slack up and running. Play around with what works for you and say goodbye to distracting pings for good.
My biggest (and most uncomfortable) tip for scheduling meetings? Set them at inconvenient times like before lunch or just before clocking off. Horrific, I know! But people are much more to the point, concise, and focused on the agenda when they have their eye on the door. Try also to schedule quick meetings of just 15 minutes. If you give someone 30 minutes, they’ll take the whole time – give them 15 and suddenly the conversation is much more on topic!
If you find yourself overwhelmed by everyday business tasks like administration, marketing and bookkeeping, it’s time to get some outside help. Hiring a virtual assistant frees up your time to earn more money and have more joy, by focusing on strategy, growth and/or delivery.
What’s more, the team at Empire Virtual Support are Australian based, highly skilled in their field. They come without all the hidden costs and risks of a traditional employee and can be engaged on a totally flexible basis. Sounds good? Contact us today and let’s chat.