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If you were more productive, how would you spend your time? If you learned to manage your time more efficiently and effectively, how would you spend your time? We are going to explore why productivity matters if you want to be an amazing networker. The genesis of these blogs came to me after hearing so many business owners tell me that they don’t have time to network.
And my response: Every. Single. Time. You don’t time not to network!
The Road to Productivity
This is the start of a journey that I hope will continue to grow and thrive. I hope all the blog readers will share their own productivity hacks and add on to the conversation. We all have our ways of doing things, but we can also learn from each other and do better.
I say to my kids that every day is a learning day and it’s truly a philosophy that I try to live by.
To get the conversation started, I’ve put down a few things that I do. It’s all small stuff, but over time I see how it has helped me and hopefully it’ll help you too.
I have to admit that I love my stationery, so despite my use of technology, I always revert to pen and paper. I like to jot down my thoughts, so I always keep a small pen and paper to hand. As I’m often around my three small children or out running errands, I might be listening to a podcast or a news article on the radio as I’m in the car and I get an idea.
Having my little notebook to hand means I can take an immediate note of the idea or thought. I generally have a notebook beside my bed and have stacks of them, in my office, full of thoughts and ideas.
One thing I’ve noticed is that if all the notebooks are black, it’s hard to find stuff afterwards. So I tend to have different colour notebooks as then I associate different ideas with different notebooks. It’s a small thing I know, but it helps me.
If you love stationery, then why not make your notebooks an investment piece? Personally, I love Aspinal notebooks. I have different colour A5 covers and then I buy refills for them. I have the A7 size notebooks for my cross over bags, so they are neat. I’m also partial to pens, but that’s a story for another day :).
Another tip is to have some notebooks with no lines on them, so you can draw and doodle.
Your local gift shop or bookshop is also a great place to source fun and quirky notebooks, so I recommend this option too.
Be prepared. I always have my Airpods charged and in my bag. They sit alongside my trusty notebad and pen. When I’m on my way to do school collections or doing a shop, I listen to podcasts. It’s so important to keep learning and upskilling.
With #Covid19, a house to run, three small kids and starting a business, it’s super important that I can allot time for me and my own development. I’m late to the podcast scene, but I have to say, I’m absolutely loving it. I’ll be doing another blog soon on the podcasts that I love to listen to and I’d love to hear your input and feedback too.
When I’m out and about, in ‘normal’ work times, I have a larger handbag with me. I use a Surface, which I love, because I can use it as a tablet or laptop. It’s portable and lightweight, so no matter where I am, if I have some time to spare, I can get some work done. And obviously, all of this translates for men who have a briefcase or a cross over bag with them.
I’m not massively techy, but I do like hacks and technology that saves me time. I’ll be doing another post on some technical solutions that I like and use to help me on a daily basis.
Outside of apps and hacks, one thing that every business needs to do is to learn to automate their processes as much as possible.
This could be from customer service emails, automating email responses to auto responders on your email identifying who people should be contacting in a business, if it’s not you.
For example, I used to get lots of accounts and service queries in my previous role, but they weren’t my areas at all, so I developed an out of office message to steer people in the right direction. It helped customers get a quicker response and it saved me time on having to respond to emails that aren’t within my area of expertise.
Hire a Productivity Coach
A productivity coach, and I bet you didn’t realise that this is a thing, can be a Godsend to your business. If you need to make things leaner, integrate systems, then hire a productivity coach to help you assess your business needs and get the right systems in place.
If you are an ambitious business owner, who doesn’t want to waste time, money and energy on systems, trialling them out, only to find the systems don’t suit the business needs, then talk to an expert and get their advice.
Paul Cosgrove works in the area of productivity, having works with large pharmaceutical companies in supply chain management. He set up a business to help SMEs develop their systems, automate as many processes as possible and get the business to run more efficiently.
Another master of efficiency, in the finance world, is Achuthan Sivadas. While offering management accounting services to businesses, he also has an ‘app matching’ service.
What’s that I hear you ask? Well, you know the way, you can go on to Anroid or Apple and look for apps? You’ll find so many for each task, but how do you know which is right in terms of functionality, process and what will fit in with your other systems you are using in your business, e.g. your accounts package.
Achuthan can help filter and match the right apps to help you move your business forward more efficiently an ensure that they fit in with your other systems in a seamless manner.
For people of a certain generation, they live by the law of scarcity. Why would you pay someone to do something you can do yourself? And this is a particular mindset.
But in business, it’s not a helpful mindset. This is something every business owner needs to learn and get their head around.
At the end of the day it all comes down to value. Do you value your time? And if you do, how much is your time worth?
The ability to outsource is part of the mindset shift that happens when your business is growing and when you need to find ways to be more productive and to ‘buy back’ time.
Here’s a way to start getting to grips about where you ARE spending your time versus where you SHOULD be spending your time, in developing your business.
Get a piece of paper and divide the page in two columns.
Make a list of all of the things you don’t like doing or even the things you don’t want to do. This can be across your life and your business.
Remember, at this stage it’s about analysing where you are spending your time.
Who could do each of these jobs quicker, better, faster and cheaper than you?
- Hire a virtual assistant to run your admin, book appointments, a virtual receptionist to answer your calls and customer service emails? This could be for everything from your hair appointment to getting your car washed.
- Outsource the accounts, HR, printer management and IT in your business? Unless this is your speciality, you probably don’t like it, so outsource it.
- Hire a cleaner to manage your ironing and housework?
- Order in prepared meals, so you don’t have to spend time prepping food, cooking and washing dishes?
- Get a graphic designer to do up all your social media graphics?
- Get a copywriter to write your blogs or an editor to do your podcast editing?
These are just some ideas and no set of ideas will suit every person, in every circumstance. The point is that you should work out what you want to spend time on and what is working towards your goal of building a sustainable and profitable business. If a task isn’t helping you meet your business objectives, then consider outsourcing it.
Guilt? Don’t feel guilty. You are keeping someone else employed and allowing another business owner who specialises in cooking or cleaning or podcast editing or graphic design to develop their business.
Know your value. Value yourself and your expertise. You cannot build a business alone and the quicker you embrace this idea and delegate out the areas that you aren’t so hot in, the quicker you will achieve success.
Batch Your Work
I am a big believer in the default diary. Set aside time in your diary and create a series link, so that the same time is blocked out in your diary each week for certain tasks, e.g. developing blogs posts or designing your social media graphics.
Setting time aside for networking is absolutely key in my books. It must be a ‘must do’ element of your work week. Make sure your networking is diarised each week and that this time is sacrosanct.
But here is something I learned on a recent podcast, that I hadn’t considered before. And it’s so, so simple.
Sometimes it’s good to batch work in your month, e.g. if you want to do interviews or edit podcasts, as an example, you might just want to blitz through one task and get it done for the month, on a particular day that you set aside. I hadn’t looked at it that way, but it makes perfect sense.
The more tasks we do during a day, chopping and changing from one thing to the other, the more energy we expend. So if you can set up your mind space to be efficient, as well as your time, then you’ll accomplish more and that sense of productivity is going to yield such positive results for you.
Now that you are changing how you think and streamlining your daily tasks, your diary and how you look at the tasks to be achieved each day, what will you do with this freed up time?
Well you are going to be laser focussed on developing your business. You are going to be laser focussed each day to accomplish what you set out to do.
And I sincerely hope that you will start on a journey to becoming more productive and in turn invest this time to becoming an amazing networker.
If you have other ideas and suggestions, I’d love to hear them. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s keep the #networking conversation going! You can join my mailing list too and I’d love to have you on board.
If you like the article, please do share it on to help someone else who might benefit from this message and knowledge.