Have you heard of time blocking? This is a simple method of structuring your time so that you use it more effectively and become more productive. Many of us wish there were more hours in the day to get things done, especially when there are so many things competing for our attention on a daily basis. For example, you might be working on one thing, when suddenly you become pulled in a different direction. In this manner, you are reacting to the challenges of the day, rather than being in control of them. So, how can time blocking help?
What is Time Blocking?
Put simply, time blocking is scheduling out blocks of time throughout the day to work on specific things. Marking these blocks in colour on a calendar is an excellent way to get a visual overview of how you need to spend your time, not only to complete tasks, but to avoid spending too much time on the things that don’t need it. For example, you could block 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon to read and respond to emails. That way, you can stop checking it throughout the day, saving you time and mental energy.
Each time block can be used to work on a single task, or a small group of similar tasks, helping to eliminate distractions and make you more productive. But there is also another benefit. Because you can time block in advance, you can create a plan that gets everything done, without having to constantly make choices about what to concentrate on. All you must do is follow your calendar!
Here’s an example of my own time blocking:
You may need to play around with the lengths of time blocks before you find what works for your situation. For me, once I know how many hours per day I need to dedicate to each client, it makes it easy to know how much time to block out to do the work.
I also think it is important to block out time for oneself, either as breaks or to do something you enjoy. By doing so, you can refresh and reset your mind before your next work time block.
Why Time Blocking works
Time blocking allows you to find your flow! We often need to stay focused on a task for some time before we unlock our creativity or get into that zone we need to be in to make real progress. The ‘deep focus’ gives us the opportunity to access that golden state of concentration, something that is hard to achieve when your attention is being directed to many other tasks.
Also, when something is scheduled, and you can see it in bold colour on your calendar, you are more likely to commit to it. There is a famous quote known as Parkinson’s law, “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” Open ended timelines are a breeding ground for procrastination, so time blocking can be a way to find the focus you need to see jobs through to completion, reduce stress, and achieve more.
Time blocking can help you stay focused and remove those distractions that compete for our attention throughout the day. It helps lessen feelings of overwhelm, and gain clarity over your priorities. Many people who use time blocking feel more relaxed and in control of their workload, making them more effective at what they do.
If you are feeling the strain of running your own business, I can help. I offer a range of OBM and VA services that can help free up your time, enabling you to take your business to the next level. For more information, drop me a line!
The Pros and Cons Explained
Every business relies upon systems and processes, and this requires tools. Yet, finding and implementing the right tools that work exactly how you need them to can be a time-consuming process. Not only that, but once you have those systems up and running, you may need to change things around if your business changes.
There are many tools out there that help keep those everyday tasks simple. Some are ‘all-round’ tools that perform several functions as part of a single platform. Or, you may prefer to use separate tools for different processes, and link them together. There is no right or wrong answer to this, it simply depends on the nature of your business and how you prefer to work. If you are having trouble deciding, here’s some pros and cons of both options explained.
Using All-Round Business Tools vs. Separate Tools
- With an all-round tool, there is increased collaboration between team members. When your team are all working together using the same platform, it increases communication and collaborative working. This helps processes run more efficiently and problems can be spotted and solved more quickly.When using separate tools, data is scattered between them. This makes finding information and communicating it effectively a lengthier process. If you have more than one team, such as a marketing team and a CRM team, you may experience some disconnection that could have a negative impact on your business.
- All-round tools may save time, as you are not continually switching between tools and apps to get a job done. Having to search for information between tools might not seem like it takes much time, but add this up over a week and you might be surprised at how much time is wasted. However, it is possible to link separate tools together to create effective workflows. This means that while it may be a bit more of a challenge to set up, you still get many of the benefits from linking separate tools as an all-in-one option.
- Using separate tools, you can design systems to meet your precise requirements. It can be difficult to find an all-round tool that does everything you need, which is why many people prefer to use several different tools. That way, you can customise your systems and processes by using different tools to fulfil the demands you need, rather than trying to work around something that doesn’t quite fit when using an all-round tool.
- Less tools saves your business money. Effective tools with the features you need are often a one off-cost to purchase, or subscription based. If you add up the costs of all the tools you are using, it may make more sense financially to opt for an all-round tool.
Examples of All-Round Tools
If you choose an all-round tool, there are many competitive options such as Dubsado, Plutio and HoneyBook. For the coaching industry, Coach Accountable is a good solution that helps deliver more programs with less work. Or you could check out this list of coaching tools and software that integrate many business areas, such as accounting, scheduling, communication and content management.
How do I link separate tools together?
If you choose to use separate tools for your business, linking them together to create effective workflows can be done using platforms such as Zapier and Integromat. This can be done so some actions trigger automatic responses that work between the tools and platforms.
The bottom line…
There is no right or wrong answer to whether you need an all-round solution or separate tools to manage your business. The best way to decide is the weigh up the pros and cons, and work out what would work best for the way you currently operate and the future of your business.
If you are looking for help or advice on what tools to use, or how to implement an all-round solution, feel free to drop me a line!
An online business manager (OBM) is there to provide support to people who need expert skills to help run their business. Unlike a virtual assistant, an OBM has a leadership and managerial role to fulfil, such as handling teams and complex projects. They also have freedom to make decisions that impact the business. A good OBM will use their skills to increase revenue and profits, drive growth, as well as taking some of the weight off the business owner. So, let’s take a closer look at some of the tasks an OBM might do:
An OBM leads projects and uses their initiative to ensure goals are met within planned timelines. After discussing priorities and outcomes with a business owner, an OBM develops strategies, plans and processes for their team to follow to achieve those desired goals. In this role, an OBM will be liaising with their team as well as outside sources such as contractors, organisations, and individuals that are involved in the project.
Organising a successful team includes hiring, firing and working with people to get the best from them. An OBM needs to have excellent communication skills, not just to be able to tell team members what to do, but also to listen and have empathy with them. This allows an OBM to solve team problems quickly and fairly. The success of a project relies upon a cohesive team that works well together and, when team members feel valued, they do a good job.
This is an example of a business area that can be delegated to an OBM to run. An OBM may coordinate the activities of copywriters, social media managers, and SEO experts. They are also able to study the measurable data, such as website analytics and social engagement, in order to see what works well and how to improve. Not all clients will require every aspect of an OBM’s skill set, but being able to hand over a whole operation such as marketing allows business owners to use their time on other things.
Being tech savvy and experienced in a number of processes means that an OBM is in the best position to suggest helpful changes that make operations run more smoothly. This could include improving bottlenecks, automating processes and devising and implementing new strategies and workflow systems that get things done more efficiently.
Actively seeks new opportunities for the business
An OBM can take a proactive approach in driving the overall success of a business by finding new opportunities. This could be new ways to generate revenue, expanding customer reach, improving brand image and engaging with potential clients or customers. This might also include networking to identify new partnership options and other opportunities that could be of benefit.
Hiring an OBM
For business owners, hiring an OBM can be the step that takes their business to the next level. It allows you to free up time if you are feeling overwhelmed with tasks, to explore new ventures, or perhaps you need a fresh set of eyes to help your business grow more quickly. Whatever the reason, an OBM is an asset that many business owners can’t do without!
One of the joys about being an OBM is that every client is different. That means no two OBM roles are the same. It keeps things fresh, interesting and with a large scope to grow and develop professionally.
As an OBM, I really enjoy getting to know business owners, helping to solve their problems and improve the way their businesses run. If you would like to have a chat about whether an OBM is right for you, or about what you could delegate, please get in touch!
An Online Business Manager (OBM) must have a varied skill base to be good at what they do. Team management is an essential skill to get right to ensure goals are achieved in a positive manner.
Managing a team successfully is much more than being able to coordinate everyone’s activities and deadlines. It is an array of interpersonal skills, as well as organisational skills, that enable an OBM to get the most from their team members and decide on the success of a project.
Here are some essential skills every OBM needs for an effective and happy team. Some of these skills overlap, showing how each often relies upon another – just like a team itself!
Understand your team as individuals
An OBM may be managing people who specialise in different skill sets, as well as being from different walks of life. Examples include virtual assistants, copywriters, social media managers, web developers and more. An OBM manages people who are task driven and need accountability to meet deadlines.
On top of that, it is important to remember that these people are individuals. That means they all have strengths and weaknesses. Getting to know your team is essential in order to get the best from them, and for them to be happy and productive members.
Giving instruction, delegating, understanding problems and finding solutions all rely on effective communication. Finding the best ways to collaborate allows good communication between the OBM and their team, but also between team members themselves. There are a variety of platforms that make communication easier, such as Asana, ClickUp and Trello.
Effective communication is about clearly explaining roles and what is expected of people, but it also includes listening. This leads to emotional awareness, which is another key skill for any team leader.
Emotional awareness is a skill that helps you understand your individual team members and communicate with them. When you can put yourself in another person’s shoes, you are able to motivate and encourage your team, as well as understanding what may be holding them back from achieving their potential.
Having emotional awareness helps you smooth the way ahead for your team members, offer constructive criticism and advice to help tackle obstacles and get results.
So, you have a great team, and everyone is keen to bring their ideas to the table. That’s great! But an effective team leader needs to have the experience and confidence to make decisions to take projects forward.
Some decisions you make may be popular, others may not. Being able to communicate logically and using emotional awareness will ensure that no one is offended if their ideas are not used. Giving your team feedback and constructive criticism will help them understand why you make such decisions and emphasise the importance of achieving a goal rather than decisions being taken personally.
Putting it all together…
Your team are the people around you who perform the necessary tasks to achieve a goal or take a project forward. In that way, an OBM should also view the client as a team member and use their skills to fully understand their needs and communicate methods and progress often. Having these team management skills in the armoury is what helps someone to become an effective OBM.
As an OBM, I understand that people skills are a big part of being an effective leader and can determine the accomplishment of a project. When you have a good team behind you, your business is set for success!
If you would like to work with me, find out more about OBM services by getting in touch.
Do you use a project management system? If not, why? A good system can make a big difference in how you plan and organise your time, not to mention your stress levels!
Sometimes it can be daunting to begin with a new app or software, especially if you don’t understand the features, or maybe you don’t have time to sit and learn about it. But that’s where this guide comes in! Here’s everything you need to know about ClickUp, a project management system that can help you grow your business and manage your time more effectively.
What is ClickUp?
ClickUp is a project management solution that enables you to easily manage your business, team, and all your tasks in one place. Designed for individuals as well as teams, there are plenty of ways that ClickUp makes life easier. Here are a few of the reasons why I love using this project management system:
- Communication – collaboration between team members has never been easier than with ClickUp. Get instant messages and notifications to do with tasks, much like a chat thread. You can see who’s online, invite people to projects, and each team member can see who else is watching or involved in the project or task. This means questions or problems can be sorted out quickly, and everyone knows what each other is working on.
- Tasks and Subtasks – each larger task can be divided into a number of smaller subtasks, helping to break projects down into chunks. You can assign responsibility for any task or subtask to different team members. This step-by-step overview allows each person to see clearly what is expected at each point of the journey. When everyone knows what they are doing, it saves so much time!
- Task Status and Dependencies – another useful feature of ClickUp is that you can add dependencies to tasks, so that it shows what needs to be done, in order, before the task is complete. You can also customise the task status, such as marking it for review, open, in progress, issues found or done. Colour coding means you can see how your projects are progressing, all at a glance.
- Automation and Integration – there are lots of useful automation tools to use in ClickUp, where you can trigger an action once a condition is met. Inside a task, there’s an option to track time. You can also sync to calendar, integrate your email accounts, proof and edit PDFs and much more. New apps, or ClickApps are often developed, so there are always plenty of new ideas to try. If you feel overwhelmed by features, you can toggle off the ones you don’t need.
- Free Forever Plan – what makes ClickUp stand out even more is that it is free to use. You have the option to add unlimited tasks and unlimited members for free, unlike other project management tools that want you to subscribe for a fee each year. With the free version of ClickUp, there are more than enough features for most businesses. But, if you did want some advanced features, such as unlimited storage and integrations, you can even make a deal to set your own price!
If you are still on the fence about using a project management system like ClickUp, I recommend checking out the ClickUp and AskYvi YouTube channels, as these show some really helpful tips on making the most of this tool. They can also help you get started more quickly, especially if you don’t have time to read through the learning guides shown on ClickUp.
A good project management system can be a game changer for your business, not to mention the benefits it brings to your own time management. For more advice on using ClickUp, or for any other questions about online business management, feel free to get in touch!
Managing time effectively is about more than upping your productivity. It helps you think creatively, enjoy your work, and get a work/life balance that benefits you and your business. Time management is key to feeling good about what you do, but to do that, you need systems. Here are some examples of systems that can help you organise your time so that you become more organised and efficient.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of time management systems, it’s a good idea to think about who you are. Your personality plays a key role in how you tackle tasks, your style of operating, and how you interact with others. When coming up with systems to help you manage time, something that works with your personality is going to be better than something that doesn’t fit well.
Tried and Tested Time Management Systems
This is a great idea for all those procrastinators out there (you know who you are!). The Pomodoro Technique is where you use a timer set for a specific amount of time. During that time you commit to working on a task without distractions. When the timer stops, you stop. Traditionally the timer is set for 25 minutes, followed by a short break, but you can set it higher or lower to suit your individual preference.
What is good about this is that you can fool your brain into working on those less appealing tasks. After all, we can all stand 15 minutes of concentrated effort, even if we don’t feel like it. But, what happens during that time is that we often find our flow. It becomes easier to finish the task. And if you don’t, then at least you have made progress, which is better than still being stuck procrastinating! All you need for this is a timer and willingness to commit.
Forget to-do lists, time blocking is a far more effective method of organising your time and tasks. Time blocking gives you a visual representation of how your day, week or month is planned out. There are apps out there you can use, good old Google Calendar or even a spreadsheet works as a daily planner.
Using colours for time blocks helps you differentiate between activities. For example, you could use different colours for different clients, or one colour for admin type tasks and another for scheduled meetings. You don’t have to stop with work either, you could schedule time blocks to include time spent with family, exercise and relaxation.
Time blocking helps you get a balance between work and life, because you can see exactly where your time is being spent. If your planner shows too much of one colour, then maybe it’s time to delegate or make some changes.
The 1-3-5 System
Rather than a traditional to-do list (that often simply makes us feel overwhelmed), the 1-3-5 system is where you write down a series of tasks you want to complete that day.
- 1 high priority task/ large task
- 3 medium tasks
- 5 small tasks
This makes your priorities easier to manage, and helps you to make progress without feeling overwhelmed. It is amazing what you can achieve, and how much better your time is spent when you have a system, as you stop wasting energy trying to do it all at once.
Most of us will be familiar with time tracking apps. Many entrepreneurs and freelancers use them to track billable hours. But, it is also very useful as a tool to show you what you spend most time doing. Time tracking apps that I use are Rescue Time, and Timing App. These can be set to run in the background so you can review how you spend your time when it suits you.
Having this insight means you can devise a new schedule where you spend appropriate amounts of time on tasks, and organise your time more effectively. It helps you to see where to streamline your processes, such as through using automation. Or what tasks you could outsource to a VA or OBM.
My Business Task Audit is another way to gain that insight into time spent on tasks. Its free, and could give you that organisational push you need to take control of your time, rather than it controlling you.
When we have poor time management, we have more stress and are less productive. Having some simple systems in place can transform how you work, increase your energy levels and make you feel more positive. It is amazing how a simple shift in how we spend our time can transform how effective we are at work, as well as how we feel.
If you are looking for some help in developing systems and processes that can make more of your time, feel free to get in touch!