You started this business to have more freedom, but it doesn’t always feel that way. Whether you’re constantly overwhelmed and scattered or just want to pick up some tips & tricks for being more efficient, this episode is for you. From my own experience to that of my clients, we’re diving into how to get more done, in less time.
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When it comes to time management, the first thing everyone says is to stop watching so much Netflix. And while that is a valid suggestion, sometimes we just need to veg out in front of the TV and it does us no good to beat ourselves up about it.
I'm certainly not going to give up my binge-watching but there are some other things that you can do to make the most of the time you do have while you are engaged in your business. It doesn't mean you can't be productive while you're watching Netflix because sometimes I write Instagram captions during that time or I’ll mindlessly scroll Instagram so that I'm not mindlessly scrolling when I'm supposed to be working.
After working with 1:1 with clients and going through my own struggle of getting a lot done in a short amount of time, I've picked up a few tricks along the way and that's what I want to share with you today. So if you regularly feel overwhelmed, or like you just don't know how you're going to get it all done, this episode is definitely for you. Even if you don't feel that way, or you have a team that does a lot of stuff for you, there's probably still a nugget or two in here, so keep on reading.
Stop context switching
The first thing I want to talk to you about this is definitely the biggest culprit for the majority of the people I know, including myself. I'm still a work in progress on this, but it's context-switching. How many of you pride yourself on being a multitasker? I did too, until I learned that by switching back and forth between tasks. You can lose up to 40% of your productivity by going back and forth between tasks.
Let's say you're planning an email campaign and you're putting the content together and then you hear a customer service email come through so you go and answer that email. You have to go read the email, compute what the customer is saying to you, what they are asking for, think about how you're going to respond to the email, then you have to go back to what you were doing before.
Your brain has to keep switching gears from customer service to creative email sales, which are not really the same thing. Every time you do that, you start to deplete your mental energy and you ultimately don't do either of those things super well.
When you're spending that time trying to figure out okay, Wait, where did I leave off? What was I working on? Where did I have this? that is time that you are just wasting away.
If you pride yourself on being a multitasker, just know that only 2% of the population is actually good at multitasking. The majority of the people who try and multitask are not actually good at it, and they're not part of that 2%.
Batch similar tasks
Start to batch similar tasks together so you’re not switching between unrelated tasks. Think of batching like cooking, if you can just focus on measuring everything first, then you can go through that recipe step by step, add you pre-measured ingredients as they’re called for, and it's much easier to watch everything on the stove or in the oven rather than trying to switch between measuring some ingredients while simultaneously whisking another set of ingredients
Consider the assembly line.There were many iterations before Henry Ford perfected it in the early 1900s, but it ultimately shaved around 10 hours off the production time of building a car. Until then, there was a person doing the same job over and over again every time that structure got in front of them. That's all they had to do. I don't know about you, but I'd be super fucking bored if I only did one thing over and over again, day in and day out.
It's unlikely that at any point in your CEO journey you would only have one responsibility, but the idea is to take the concept of it and apply it to your day to day working schedule. You'll have to figure out how this best fits into your overall workflow but the main goal is to stick to the same type of task at any one time.
Here's a few examples to get you thinking about how you can implement this in your business. Instead of creating one Instagram post every day, create a week's worth in one sitting. Instead of answering every customer service email as it comes in, set aside a couple of time slots in the day, maybe once in the morning, once in the afternoon before you ship out your packages for the day, and then once again before the day is done. Just sit down and bang out all of those customer service emails at once. This way, whatever other tasks you're working on, whether it is planning that email campaign or thinking about your next marketing strategy or ordering product or doing inventory, whatever it is, you can focus 100% on that and you're not constantly interrupted by email notification.
This was a game changer for me. I turned off all my alerts and I don't get interrupted by emails anymore. Guess what? Nobody complained and said it took me too long to get back to them.
Another way you can approach this is consider designating specific days for specific types of tasks. For example, set aside one day a week as your creative day where you create all your content, your emails, your social media, whatever marketing plans you have.
You can set different days to do all the operational pieces of your business like accounting, inventory management, ordering product, etc. If you have a team that you outsource to, encourage them to do the same thing. Teach them about this so that they can also be more productive on your time. It is your time because you're paying them and you want to make sure that everyone on your team understands that this is what's expected and what everyone's days are. For example, if you know Monday is your creative day and you need to be able to focus, let your team know not to interrupt you so you can focus 100% on what you’re doing.
Another example is the company I work for used to schedule our lunch breaks so that everyone went to lunch at the same time. When I first started working there, I hated it and was like, seriously? We're not in school, we should just be able to eat when we're hungry.
It actually works out really well because everybody is available and unavailable at the same time. During this particular hour, the entire company knows that the store staff across the whole country is on their lunch break and therefore uncontactable unless it's an emergency. It really does work best for everyone and it makes it so much easier when you're trying to schedule meetings with outside vendors because you know you can never have a meeting at this time.
Here's the thing, when you let your team know, you’re not going to be available during a certain timeframe, they're going to be much more likely to take initiative to figure stuff out. I have learned that if people have easy access to ask a question and get a quick answer, they're more likely to do that instead of just taking a couple extra minutes to think through it, or do a little bit of research and potentially come up with the answer on their own and.
Sometimes you just want them to come to you to get the answer because you don't want them whittling the day away trying to figure everything out on their own but sometimes they really do already know the answer, they're just being a little bit lazy.
Just like those email notifications, every time someone on your team pops in your office or your inbox, depending upon how you're set up, you are getting distracted from the things that you should be focusing on.
Create and automate processes and procedures for your business
You want to document everything and do all the work upfront so they don't need to keep popping in and ask you questions. Even if it's just you right now, the sooner you start documenting everything, the easier it will be when you're ready to start passing things off.
While outsourcing the things you don't like doing is great, it still takes work to have a team because you need to lead them along the way. Plus, when you're actually creating these systems and processes, it's going to give you a lot of insight into all the steps that actually takes to complete something and you'll likely find a few inefficiencies along the way that you can fine-tune to save some time.
I recently brought on a VA to help me with the post-production of this podcast. I do already have an editor but I needed someone to help create the freebies, set up the blog post, and the weekly newsletter, and create graphics to promote the podcast. Even before I started looking for someone, I documented every step I took to complete those. I even recorded quick videos that ran through each step.
Not only does it make my VA’s job way more enjoyable because she knows exactly what steps she has to take and what my expectations are, but it eliminates the questions and the distractions because if she forgets or doesn’t remember how to do something, it's already written out and recorded for her and so she can just go get the answer.
When I was creating those, I was like, holy shit this is a lot of steps! No wonder I felt so overwhelmed trying to get it all done but my VA is going to get all those things done faster because that is her main focus. Whereas for me, I'm thinking about everything else I need to do in my business and what's coming up next but for her, she's just focused on getting those tasks done so she's doing it a lot more efficiently than I am. If you can't pass it off just yet create that same sort of situation for you, where you can just focus on that task at hand and you will be more efficient at it.
You can create canned customer service responses that answer common questions and that just require copy and paste to respond.
You can create end of day procedures to get you set up for the next day. This is similar to side work, which is where every server in a restaurant has a specific set of tasks they do during their shift to set up the next shift. This could be creating place settings or refilling condiments and you can do that same thing in your eCommerce business.
Figure out what you batch in your business that is the same task and document all of it like you refilling shipping materials at the end of the day, putting together boxes for the next day shipping or printing out all your packing slips ahead of time.
When you create these, they're not set in stone so you can update the processes and procedures as you go. As you bring on more team members who specialize in something like organization and processes, let them utilize their expertise so they can make the process even smoother.
Automating your processes as much as possible is something you absolutely want to be doing. I'm just going to touch on this today because I will do a separate episode on more specific processes but ultimately I want you to take as many opportunities as you can to automate the processes in your business.
Everything from scheduling your Instagram posts in advance, to automating responses to those common customer service chats and batch printing labels from your shipping software. Even putting your shipping supplies on auto delivery are ways you can save a ton of time in your business.Each little thing seems like it's only saving you a few minutes here or there, but those benefits will add up very quickly, my friend.
Stop consuming so much content and start taking action
All right I will admit I am 100% guilty of consuming too much content. I definitely catch myself in the scroll and it is probably some of the most unproductive time ever. If you want to scroll, do it while you're vegging out watching Netflix, not when you set aside time to be productive on your business. We're all human and we definitely need to take mental breaks but try and give yourself a time limit so set an alarm, because that time will fly by so fast.
Even when it comes to educational content, like my podcast, I obviously want you to listen, and I'm super grateful that you do, but if you never take action on anything I share, you're not going to see any results. So while it's really cool to think, hey, people are binge listening to my podcast, that's fucking badass, I'd rather you listen to an episode and then go implement something.
Consume and then act because I want you to see results. Don't ever forget that whatever educational content you're taking in, make sure that you're taking action on it.
And remember that running an eCommerce business, if you're using social media to drive traffic to your website, try and use it for that more than you use it for aimlessly scrolling miles on your Instagram feed.
Focus on revenue-generating activities
Sometimes we can get caught up in shit, right? We feel like we have to do stuff ourselves and ultimately, it's not a revenue-generating activity. If we have a finite amount of time to focus on our business, whatever your situation is, and you don't have a team to outsource things to, there's no way you can do all the things so it's really important that we get an understanding of which activities actually make us money and which activities don’t.
And that's going to be different for everyone, right? In episode #7 I talked about the importance of knowing what numbers you should be looking at in your business. You can check out the episode notes and download the freebie here
Once you have a handle on your numbers and what is driving revenue for you, then you'll know better where you should spend most of your time. For instance, if you know that every time you send an email campaign, you generate $1,000 but on Instagram, you only generate about $500 a month which one should you do if you can't do both? You should send the email because it's gonna make you more money.
I want you to start paying close attention to the results you're getting from all the different activities you're doing in your business and make sure you double down on what's working and drop or pull back on the things that are not.
Stop constantly comparing yourself to your competitors
I left this for last because I have strong opinions on this one, so girl, listen up. You need to keep your eyes on your own paper. Yes, competitor research is an important part of running a business but if you're following all their social channels and keeping tabs on everything they do that’s time and energy you are wasting on them instead of putting it into your own business. In all my experience all this does is distract you and makes you second guess yourself and takes your eye off of the damn ball.
Large corporate companies are guilty as fuck when it comes to this too – it's a waste of damn time. You can do competitive research, but you've got to be self aware and take stock of the effect that it's having on you. If you find yourself in constant comparison with everyone else, and it just is keeping you from taking action in your own business, you need to stop that shit right now.
If it drives you to work harder when you see what other people are accomplishing, that's different, but you've got to get real with yourself on how you react to that information you take in. For most people, it's not a driver, it's a distractor. You have no fucking idea what's actually going on behind the scenes. Unless you have a mole that can give you all the ins and outs of what's really going on behind the scenes, what you see on the outside means nothing so stop comparing yourself to them because for all you know, they are fucking broke. Okay? Just like there are influencers out there that have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and they don't make ANY money.
Instead of looking at all of your competitors, trying to figure out what's cool, just ask your damn customers what they want from you. Send them a survey, do a poll on social, there's so many ways that you can gather Intel from your customers now. Ultimately, your job is to serve them so just ask them what they want and then give them what they asked for.
When I was first on Instagram, I talked a shit ton about email marketing, and I still talk about email marketing but there was this one day that I did a post about driving traffic to your website and it got so much interaction and engagement, that I created more posts about driving traffic because you told me that's what you want it by that action. Some of the main competitors in my space are not necessarily talking about driving traffic to your website so if I were paying attention to what they were doing, I would have missed the signal that that's the kind of content that you really wanted from me. So your customers will tell you so much more about the direction that you should go in your business than your competitors can ever show you.
All I want for you is to build a business that you love and makes you money and looking at what everybody else is doing is not going to get you there.
I hope that you've gotten some ideas and the wheels are turning on how you can just overall be more productive in the day to day of your business, get more things done, focus on what really matters, put those revenue-generating activities at the top of your list and just kick some damn ass because I know you can.