As you’ve probably worked out by now, I could talk all day about productivity tips.
You can make all the productivity hacks in the world, but if you’re using your freed-up time on yet more useless busywork, you’re not going to get anywhere.
Are you ready to step up your game and make 2013 your best year in business? I know I am! Let’s get started.
Define your goals
The new year is a great time to sit down and figure out your goals. What do you want your day to look like twelve months from now? Think about your life goals not just your business goals, as one will impact the other. Maybe you want to:
- Launch a wholesale line by August and be carried by at least five local and national boutiques.
- Create a tutorial using your hand-dyed yarns featured in Mollie Makes this year.
- Maintain a consistent blogging schedule three times a week.
- Take a three-week holiday every summer.
- Reduce your crazy hours to school hours by the start of the next school year.
- Open a retail store within three years.
You’ll notice that they’re a mixture of short-term and long-term goals and that they are specific and have deadlines.
If you’re struggling to see the big picture because you’re down in the trenches, ask yourself these questions:
- What did I enjoy last year and want to do more of? What did I not have time for and missed doing?
- What did I not enjoy and want to do less of? What wasn’t working?
- What was I always complaining about to my spouse/cat?
- What are some things I was dreaming of ‘if only’ I had the time or money?
>Write down all of these goals and when you want to achieve them by. Now it’s time to turn each of these goals into projects.
Do you think Napoleon put ‘Invade Russia’ on his to-do list for Thursday? Of course not, so why do you have the mammoth task of ‘Open online shop’ on yours?
I know you don’t have a whole army at your disposal, but the principle is the same. Break it down into single, actionable steps. Suddenly the step of ‘Research web developers’ is much more manageable and you’ve taken your first step in opening your virtual doors.
If you have spending goals, such as investing in a new sewing machine or taking that three weeks off, the first step might be to set up an automatic debit every week into a savings fund. You can thank me later.
Longer-term goals will require a bit more thought and may involve several projects. For example, if you’re planning to go on maternity leave, you might want to hire and train an employee now, create a wholesale line so you don’t have to do craft fairs with a newborn, and set up a fulfillment house so orders can be shipped without you.
Next, enter your projects and tasks into a program such as Zendone or OmniFocus and assign a date for each step, working backwards from your deadline. You’ll then be able to track everything from single little to-dos to your large-scale projects and view according to context, date, project, person, or ‘next actions.’
Plan it well and things should turn out better than they did for ol’ Bonaparte.
Find the time to do it
“That’s all well and good,” I hear you grumble, “but where am I supposed to find time to work on my three-year goals when I’ve got work to do now?”
While we all have times in business (and life) where we have to go into survival mode and just focus on the urgent stuff (like getting your orders out for Christmas), this shouldn’t be the norm.
You need to make time for the important tasks, not just the urgent ones. Don’t be afraid to…
- Shut down your email and turn off notifications.
- Get up early so you can work uninterrupted by calls, emails and family/co-workers.
- Use a weekly schedule to make sure you’re creating time for everything you need to do.
- Batch your tasks such as email, bookkeeping and social media.
- Use a timer to focus your work – try the Pomodoro Technique.
- Treat it like a real business – if friends call you up during the day to go out shopping what do you say?
- Jot your ideas down using Evernote so you don’t forget them, then get back to whatever you were doing.
- Switch off your phone if you really need to finish something (that’s what voicemail is for).
- Make an appointment with your work – if something come up, say you’re busy.
What are your business goals for this year?
I hope some of them are now looking a bit less scary and more achievable!
(P.S. I’m off travelling for a few weeks, but please chat amongst yourselves and I will chime in when I return at the end of the month.)