Distraction = Inefficiency

As an up and coming Entreprenette you are probably wearing many hats and often feeling overwhelmed. We all hope to walk into our office (or the dining room :O)) and hope to be able to cross everything off our to-do lists each day before it gets out of control …….right? I sure wish it was like that for me!! Obviously that’s not always a reality but here are a few tips to help you get closer to wiping the board clean and make the most of your time.

1. Power Hours: Assign hours or minutes to certain projects. Get a calendar going with times on it and really schedule yourself to get in a rhythm. Maybe you spend 1 hour 2x a day answering emails, 25 minutes on Social Media 2x a day, lunch, exercise, design, meetings, 5 minutes of stretching……you get the picture. Having power hours really gets the job done. Turn off everything else during that time and ONLY work on that. You will be amazed at how fast you can work when totally dedicated.

2. Realize your potential: Before you assign yourself a task, think about if you are the best person to do it or if it is something you can outsource. Even when the money is tight, sometimes outsourcing can free you up to do the things you really excel at and is a much better use of your time. Outsourcing is a great option if you really don’t enjoy the task or are just really bad at it.

3. Don’t assume; ask questions: When speaking to a prospective or current client, try to really understand what they are asking of you. Sometimes we just want to please and take on more that we can chew. You will waste a lot of time back tracking or trying to reinvent the wheel rather than just having listened well the first time and offering what was within your means or area of expertise.

4. Know when to go: Get off the phone as soon as possible. When a caller keeps you on the phone longer than necessary, gently prompt her to end the call. You could tell them that you have another call, that you are on a tight deadline or, if they have requested something, tell them that you want to get started on it immediately.

4a. Know when to listen: Get a voicemail ONLY system so you don’t have to answer the phone and can just check the messages a few times a day. You can always give special customers your cell number. I use Voicemail Depot for this myself and it works wonders for me and my team.

5. The desk makeover: Make your environment conducive to working. Organize your workstation to minimize wasted time searching for lost papers or files etc…This covers two areas: your actual work space and the area surrounding it. Take the time to clear your desk of any distractions – Think about the things you use on a regular basis and have those at the ready – everything else can go on a shelf waiting for its moment in time. You may want to find some storage type bins and or baskets you can use to help you be more organized and have easy access to the things you need to do your job.

6. Flex your muscles: Organize your files so you can find what you need quickly. I like to have files near my desk of things I am currently working on……Everything else is either on my laptop or in a filing cabinet.

7. Find your sweet spot: In retail they say, “Location, location, location.” The same is true in a home office. A desk located in a high-traffic area is as welcome as a marching band in a library. Try to find a quiet place to work so you can concentrate and be as efficient as possible. If this means on your bed then so be it….

8. Conserve gas: If you are in production mode or just have to travel a lot to visit with clients, stores or whatever else….try to plan out your week and group areas together to maximize your time. Most people are accustomed to waiting to be called upon, and will not feel like a day or two is neglectful of you. I think you will find you are more pleasant and happier to be there when you are not so rushed and trying to get more places than possible.

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    Written by Sarah Shaw

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