There's no doubt about it. We're under more pressure to produce, stay organized, and pivot frequently throughout the day. Simplifying the workday then, not only makes sense but also leads to greater productivity.
You may have noticed how much simplifying a recurring task in your personal life has helped. Maybe it's planning time to update your checkbook every other day or twice a month. Perhaps, it's placing an order for grocery pickup and shaving an hour or more off your in-store time.
Simplifying your workday can be as easy--or complicated--as you make it. If you're an overachiever, perhaps you want to tackle several of these 25 simplification tasks suggested by Entrepreneur.
If you're looking for some easy wins, then try one of these 3 ways to simplify your workday.
Tip #1: Start at the Very Beginning
In the musical, The Sound of Music, Maria reminds us, "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start."
Theater geek or not, you'll likely agree. The trick is to find out what IS the very beginning. The easiest way to find that is to work backward. If your goal is to bring in more revenue, look at the ROI of the tasks you know need to be accomplished.
Ask yourself, "Which ONE of these tasks will bring in the greatest ROI?" Then focus on that task. That is your starting point or beginning. Nothing else gets added to your to-do list until this task has been undertaken.
Tip #2: Say No to Something
Saying yes is easy. For some of us it's automatic. Before a request has even been finalized, we find ourselves nodding along, agreeing that it's important and inevitably, that we need to do it.
Remember, as best-selling author Annie Lamott once wisely said, "No is a complete sentence".
Say no to something today. It could be as big or small as you're comfortable with. Say no to spacing out by surfing online or "just checking email" for the 20th time in an hour.
Say no to a coworker who pleads for help at the 11th hour...after assuring you that they had everything under control and could meet the deadline they knew about weeks ago.
Say no to scheduling yet another Zoom call when a quick email will get the same results.
Tip #3: Curate Constantly
Freelancers often find that when they first go out on their own they are able to get much more done in less time. This causes elation in some, trepidation in others. Some of us only feel productive if every last minute of the workday (and then some) are full of activity.
The thing is, busy doesn't mean productive. I can get more done in three hours of uninterrupted time than I could eight hours at a job I once held where a micromanaging boss loomed over my shoulder constantly.
So, curate. Learn to cut out the things that are great but not essential. Cut out the virtual calls, online networking events, and "perfect" project results--that in actuality are only five to ten percent better after another six hours of tweaking.
Curate your workday so that you have energy left for the rest of your life. Especially now, as so many of us juggle the strain of homeschooling or parent care, additional duties around the house and/or general stress over COVID-19.
Simplifying as a Form of Self-Care
By simplifying our workdays, we are taking better care of ourselves. And we may find that by doing so, we build up the ability to simplify other areas of our lives, too.
If you're looking for more tips on simplifying at work, home, or in your personal life, I strongly recommend visiting Leo Babauta's blog, Zen Habits.
What do you think? What benefits have you noticed in simplifying your workday and what challenges have you experienced in doing so?
Do you have a frenemy relationship in your business life: one you know it isn’t healthy, but which you can’t seem to let go?
Lots of small business owners do. This is a twisted kind of friendship where you wake late in the night wondering if you said the wrong thing or didn’t say enough at all. A relationship where you put in hours and hours of effort but sometimes (okay, often) have very little positive results to show for it. This friendship feels really one-sided...because it is. And unfortunately, it’s you who is making all the sacrifices and doing the bulk of the work.
This relationship is one that most small business owners have with...social media.
Social media is everywhere. Not only are there a huge number of options for “connecting with clients” online, but there are a lot of do’s and don’ts about how to use each platform successfully. We’ve become slaves to algorithms, status updates, and the cold, hard data that shows how we’re “performing,” not only day to day but hour to hour and minute to minute. Somewhere in engine search land, I picture a few hairy, sweaty middle-aged men laughing in an uproariously as they tweak algorithms and watch all of us poor schmucks deal with the fallout. As a small business owner, most of us have one most precious commodity: time. And social media can be like a giant drain where our time swirls away from us.
The Glitter of Social Media
I’ve attended a lot of meetings and conferences in my 11+ years as a professional writer. And one question that is bound to be posed in any event is: “Which social media platforms should I be using to find customers?” I too, used to feel a lot of angst about this. I would listen raptly as the keynote speaker or marketing expert would share all the “inside information” I needed to find my “tribe” online. And then, with pages of notes spread over my knees, I’d clutch my pen thinking, “I have to focus on this. This is top priority. I must be on at least three social media platforms three times a day in order to be relevant”.
So, I tried. For a long time I tried being everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Slack, Reddit. I blogged like a maniac and felt like I spent the better portion of my workday shouting ideas, inspiration, encouragement and questions out into the great black void of the internet.
And you know what happened?
Or at least, not much. And that was for three reasons:
1) I tried to be in too many places.
2) I didn’t go where my potential clients were.
3) I burned out.
Letting Go of Social Media
Things changed when I reassessed the craziness of my social media schedule and honed in what was actually working. This took a little time and distance. And yes, I’ll admit, it was scary. Letting go of Facebook where I’d built a small following (but wasn’t really seeing any results other than learning about people’s kids’ interests or what their pets were doing), was a little frightening. FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) runs rampant, especially online. But finding more free time and more focus had definitely been worth it.
Through my social media analysis, I discovered some important information: for business writing, LinkedIn was where I needed to be. I still have an account on Twitter, but post/share/peruse it more rarely. I’ve let all the other platforms go (hello Facebook freedom!) and haven’t seen a decline in my business. If anything, I’ve had an increase in new clients probably because now I have time to actually build real connections, reach out to people one-on-one instead of en masse, and (gasp) do my priority work instead of dabbling on social media.
Is It Right for You?
Only you can decide if this is also the right choice for your own business. Looking at the data certainly helps. And while it’s difficult to pinpoint with accuracy what leads come through social media, it’s not as hard to track which posts/information/images got the most interaction. If you can find those, then look at other metrics like new client calls, online forms filled out on your website, newsletter subscribers, and more, around the same time and try to find where the two intersected.
That was too complicated for me. I went the simple route which was to drop accounts one by one and see what, if anything sales wise, changed. You may be surprised to see that your numbers don’t change all that much. Or that you find with the additional time you’ve freed up you have more energy to put toward sales calls, scheduling coffee meetups with potential clients or developing skills to boost your business overall. If nothing else, you’ll at least see which social media platforms really are important to your business and continue with those.
Joy Choquette has been writing professionally from her home office in northwestern Vermont (which is currently covered in snow) for the past 11 years. She helps small business owners to cut through the clutter online by creating shareable stories and memorable messages that motivate customers to action. She specializes in the areas of business, environmental and health and wellness issues. When she's not writing she loves being in the woods, drinking hot beverages and reading...just not all at the same time.
Joy Choquette has been writing professionally from her home office in northwestern Vermont for more than a decade. She helps small business owners to cut through the clutter online by creating shareable stories and memorable messages that motivate customers to action. She specializes in the areas of business, environmental and health and wellness issues.