Do you ever have one of those days, or even one of those weeks, when you feel as though you’ve worked absolutely non-stop? You’ve barely come up for air let alone eaten properly.
But you still feel as though your to do list is a massive, insurmountable beast that will never, ever be finished!
Firstly if this does sound familiar, don’t panic, it’s a bit of a natural side effect of growing your own business so it actually means you’re very normal. This is a challenge that I help almost all of my clients with though, so I thought it would be good to share the most typical reasons that this happens plus my favourite tips to help you finally get your stuff done.
You want everything done now!
Let’s be honest, when it comes to running a business and trying to grow it too, there is always going to be a huge list of things to do. It’s literally never ending.
As an example … if you update your website then you’ll probably want to work on the SEO next; (that’s Search Engine Optimisation for the non-techies) then you might to want to link it to some social media pages; then add some testimonials (and now you’ve got a whole new list of things to do to gather the testimonials); then add more images, or new services, or a video.
By the time you get all of that done, the chances are that the content of the site will be starting to feel a bit outdated and ready for a new overhaul. So now you’re right back to the beginning again! And that’s why most of these things are never actually finished.
Business works in a cycle. As you improve one part, that naturally highlights where the next improvement needs to be, and the next and the next. So that by the time you reach what you expected to be the end, you realise that the thing you did first is now a bit jaded so that needs upgrading … and that starts the cycle all over again!
When you acknowledge this perpetual cycle it becomes much easier to accept that there will always be more to do and that pushing to achieve everything right now only makes the cycle more pressured and more stressful. And when you rush things they almost never turn out as well as you’d hoped, so you end up with a series of outstanding niggles still on your to do list.
So that even the things you thought you’d finished are still not finished!
The answer is to create a clear order of things and deal with them one at a time. Complete each one thoroughly and as well as you can, so that you can well and truly cross it off your list. The most crucial element here is to then allow yourself to accept that the rest of your list has to wait until that top priority thing is finished.
Because trying to achieve a million things at once is a recipe for finishing nothing!
But if you were to choose 12 key projects for your business and complete one a month for the next 12 months I would hazard a strong guess that that’s progress you’d be very happy with.
So stop putting everything else onto your list every day. That’s just creating pressure and adding to the feeling of overwhelm. Have those things on a separate list so they’re written down and not spinning around inside your head, but let that be your master list of things that will be done when the time is right. Then keep today’s list short, focused, and most importantly make it manageable.
You’re completely deluded about how long things actually take!
There’s usually a link between running your own business and being fairly optimistic. There has to be a certain amount of natural optimism to support the decision to go it alone and take that leap. But sometimes that optimism can be a bit of a hindrance. And time management is frequently one of those natural obstacles it presents.
One of the things I ask every new client to do is to keep a really accurate log of how they use their time over a 2 week period. And this consistently shows that almost everything they do actually takes significantly longer than they expect it to. Here are some of the most typical examples:
- sending a quick proposal or follow up email after a meeting. Expected to take 15 minutes, frequently takes 30 to 45 minutes
- writing a blog. Expected to take 45 minutes, often takes 90 minutes to 2 hours
- following up a business networking event. Expected to take 15 minutes, regularly takes 30 to 45 minutes
- dealing with daily emails. Estimated to take 45 to 60 minutes per day, frequently takes 90 minutes to 2 hours
- writing a few social media posts. Expected to take 30 minutes, often takes 60 to 90
I’m sure you can see the theme developing here. Natural optimism entices you to think that you can achieve far more than you actually can in the time you have available. And here’s the thing … this miscalculation works almost exclusively in one direction. My clients hardly ever find something that regularly takes them less time than they expected, but they consistently identify loads of things that are taking up way more of their time than they realised.
So my challenge to you is to invest a bit of your time in really getting to grips with how long things actually take. Not how long you think they take. Because once you know that you can start to create a daily list that’s actually manageable.
So, ironically you’ll see that my best advice about how to get more done is to actually plan to achieve less!
I know that aiming to get less done seems completely counter-productive and I know that for most people it’s an incredibly difficult decision to make because they’re so used to spinning plates and multi-tasking every minute of every day. But I promise you, this is the way to get more done.
If that sounds like something that could really help you but you’re still flummoxed about where to start then get in touch and let’s have a chat so that I can help you properly.