How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

How to Switch Off and Be More Productive

There’s a fine art to productivity, and ‘how to be more productive’ is a very popular internet search. There are a staggering amount of tips, apps and tools that claim to make you more productive as a person, both in your work and your home life. With so much choice, learning to be more productive can actually become overwhelming in itself, leading to even more procrastination and uncertainty about how to tackle your tasks. Sometimes we need to learn to switch off in order to get stuff done!

Are too many productivity tools slowing you down?

To begin switching off, take a look at all the tools you use on a daily basis. There are some great productivity tools out there, and something on offer for almost every kind of task. For example, there’s ClickUp, Trello and Asana for project management. There are diary management and scheduling tools such as Calendly, and social media management tools such as Loomly and Hootsuite. What about basic Google Docs and good old-fashioned pen and paper? They are also common tools people use every day.

It doesn’t really matter what tools you use, as long as they work for you. Once you have found something useful, stick with it. It’s much better to use one or two tools effectively than waste time trying to manage several tools at once.

The benefit of being offline

After a storm in rural France where I live, I was without internet. You can read about it here. At first, it sent me into a kind of spin, as much of my work is based online. But, being without internet actually allowed me to focus and be more productive as a result.

The problem with the internet is that it is a huge distraction. You could be working away and you notice a new email ping into your inbox, so you stop what you’re doing to read it. Over the course of a day, many small distractions can lead to a big decrease in productivity.

When online, you probably have a lot of tabs open as you jump from one page to another. This encourages multitasking, which is yet another method of working that really slows you down.

If you do need to be online to do a particular task, turn everything else off. This means putting your phone on silent, closing down unnecessary tabs, including email. You will find that you get the job done more quickly, and often with much less stress and pressure as other things aren’t competing for your attention

Take regular breaks

If you are someone who struggles with productivity, taking regular breaks throughout the day can help reset your mind before continuing with a task. It might sound contradictive to take more breaks when you are busy, but when you are feeling stressed over a task, working without a break can lead to burnout and make you feel miserable! You will find you get more done in twenty minutes of positive action followed by a short break, than in an hour of slogging through a task with no break in sight.

The bottom line

Many people get caught up in the productivity trap, where they become so keen trying out new apps or reading about productivity online that it has the opposite effect. Sometimes you simply have to switch off the distractions and get stuff done!

The world will not stop if you don’t check your email for a few hours, or you turn off the notifications on your phone. By prioritising one task and zoning out the rest, you’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve.

If you are feeling overwhelmed and would like some help with online business management, feel free to get in touch!

Tips and Tricks to Put Your Social Media Marketing on Autopilot

Tips and Tricks to Put Your Social Media Marketing on Autopilot

Guest Post by Scott Cross

Know Your Target Audience

If you want to make social media marketing as easy as possible, the very first step is to understand who your target audience genuinely is.  In other words, you need to know the average age, gender, geographic location, hobbies and interests of your ideal customers.  Your ideal customers are the people who are most likely to interact and make a purchase or transaction with your business. 

Whether you’re using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social platforms, you should have access to some basic audience analytics and insights. Before you can sit back and have your social media on autopilot, you’ll need to dig into your analytics and learn as much as you can about your target audience.  You might have some older audience members, some younger, some male, and some are females, which can make honing in on your ideal customers tricky.  But the idea is to get a better idea of who is most likely to interact with your brand.  By understanding who your audience is, you’ll be able to make better, more informed decisions about your social media marketing.  And, by making better social media marketing decisions, being active on your social platforms will be easier and your efforts will resonate better with your audience. 

Create A Social Calendar

Another major hurdle when it comes to social media marketing is knowing what type of content to post.  That’s why we highly recommend that you create a social media calendar outlining all content that you want to post for several weeks to a month in advance.  When you do this, you can plan your content out around any upcoming holidays or industry events that might be relevant to your business. 

Finally, don’t forget to include your branding such as your logo on your social media to make your company more memorable to your followers.  Create a business logo here

Use A Social Media Scheduler

The final step in putting your social media on autopilot is to start using a social media scheduler.  With tools like Buffer or Hootsuite, you can schedule your social media posts days, weeks and months in advance.  You can also set it up so that your posts will go live not only on one platform but all platforms where your business is active.  Once you do this, rather than logging on to social media every morning, you’ll only need to take time to work on your social media once every now and then.

Automatic Social Media Marketing For Business

One of the most common complaints we hear from business owners is that they find it challenging to balance maintaining their presence while overseeing their day-to-day operations.  However, in today’s digital landscape, social media is one of the best ways to connect and engage your target audience.  Therefore, it’s crucial to study your audience, create a social media calendar and then get started sharing content regularly so that your business can stay engaged online.  And at the same time, you can focus on the things that matter most!

10 Best Tools Every Small Business Should Use

10 Best Tools Every Small Business Should Use

Tools help us to organise and manage work effectively and efficiently, and as many small businesses and entrepreneurs use them, there are an increasing amount available. From CRM systems and project management, to email marketing and workflow automation, there are hundreds of tools to choose from. So, how do we know which is best for the job? Here’s a quick guide to ten of the best tools every small business should use.

Project Management

  1. Asana – a tool that allows multiple teams to work on multiple projects. Tasks can be viewed as lists or scheduled into a calendar, and messages or updates to do with tasks are clear to see. Asana can email your team each day to remind them of their daily goals. Its intuitive interface makes it one of the most popular management tools in use.
  2. ClickUp – an effective tool for teams to collaborate on multiple projects. There are some cool features that make it different from Asana, such as being able to turn comments in to tasks to assign to others, plus its Forever Free plan means you can use it for unlimited projects and unlimited users.

Email Marketing

  1. MailChimp – with MailChimp, you can manage your email subscribers, set up auto-responders, send lead magnets, and split-test campaigns to see what works well. You can also create templates to save you time writing emails, plus it provides excellent real-time tracking of how people respond to your emails, such as who opens them, what links are clicked, who unsubscribes and what email addresses bounce. This popular email marketing platform has a free plan to get started with.
  2. InfusionSoft – this tool is great if you want everything that MailChimp does, but combined with some awesome customer relationship management (CRM) features. Use InfusionSoft to help convert leads into sales, segment your subscribers to send specific emails to different groups, and use the built-in ecommerce platform to sell to them directly.

Social Media

  1. Hootsuite – a useful tool that manages all your social media platforms in one place. You can pre-write and schedule your tweets and posts in advance, respond to new comments, see your feeds and new followers all within Hootsuite. This saves you hours of time going between social media platforms and makes it easy to engage with followers.

Files and Documents

  1. Google Drive – Google Drive makes it easy and convenient to share and store files. This cloud-storage platform means that anyone can view a file provided they have internet access and an invite. For business owners, you can allow team access so people can work in collaboration on documents and spreadsheets, and they are synced in real-time. That means that anytime someone views a file, it is always up-to-date. In addition to file sharing, it is also easy to connect with your team through chats and video using Google Meet.

Scheduling

  1. Calendly – an absolute time-saver when it comes to arranging meetings and calls, Calendly allows you to communicate your availability through a link, and customers or clients can book a call when it is convenient for them. This simple scheduling program syncs with your calendar, so you always know who is booked in and when. It also integrates with Zoom and Microsoft Teams. The free version is ideal for one user, and the price is low for other plans with more features.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

  1. HubSpot –a marketing and sales platform that is full of features to help attract customers, sell to them, and turn them into repeat buyers. It has the tools ready to create a fantastic customer experience as they journey through the sales process and learn more about your brand. It includes features such as email marketing, advert software, website tools and a service hub where you can collaborate with your team. HubSpot is an all-in-one solution to scaling up a business.
  2. Zoho – this CRM platform is similar to HubSpot, however it is more streamlined in terms of features. For example, it does not have the team collaboration ability that HubSpot does, but not all business owners want an all-in-one solution. Although the CRM part of HubSpot is free, Zoho offers cheaper pricing plans overall.

Workflows

  1. Zapier – this platform allows for easy sharing of information between apps, helping to automate workflows. Connect two or more apps to create a ‘zap’, which then triggers more actions that you set, automating those repetitive tasks and saving you time. With over 3000 apps to choose from, there is not much that Zapier can’t connect!

Using the right tools for business is a must, as working efficiently saves you time and money. When you are not chasing to keep up, you can put your energy into developing and scaling your business further. If you are looking for advice on setting up systems to help you work smarter, or would like help to implement the right tools for your business, feel free to get in touch!

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

How Automation Tools Can Boost Your Business

When you run a business, there are always ongoing jobs that take up precious time. It can be frustrating to spend hours on tasks that need doing, yet which don’t necessarily push your business forward, bring in money, or drive growth. Luckily, there are some ways to make life easier and free up more time to focus on other areas of your business, and that is by using automation tools. Here’s a quick guide to some business processes and workflows that can be automated, and some of the best tools to use.

Accounting

Even though we live in the digital era, accounting still uses many different processes and ways to gather information. It may involve data entry into numerous spreadsheets, electronic and paper invoices, filing, and using a calculator. But, using automation tools can save you time, eliminate human error, and give you the convenience of retrieving information whenever you need it. What’s more, many of the tools will merge seamlessly with your accounting software and can interact with one another. For example, payments that arrive through a gateway such as Stripe or PayPal can assimilate with accounting software, for an invoice or receipt to be created using a tool such as Zapier.

Not just for accounting, Zapier is a fantastic tool for connecting different apps and automating many business processes. It allows data to be shared from many apps you use, and passes information between them, so workflows become more streamlined.

Call Scheduling

Call scheduling tools make it easy for clients or people interested in your services to book a time slot for a call. It is then automatically added to a calendar so you can see exactly what is booked in on any day. This saves you time on sending correspondence via email to arrange appointments, and organising your diary.

Some of the best call scheduling tools are Calendly, ScheduleOnce, HubSpot and YouCanBook.me (I use this one), and most will also sync with Google apps such as Google Calendar and Gmail.

Social Media

Creating an engaged community around your business is an essential part of marketing, but posting on social media takes time. This is especially true if you have an audience on many different platforms. One great way to save time is to use social media scheduling tools. This means you can batch create posts and set them to be published at the best times of day to reach your audience, and it can be done in advance.

Tools such as Hootsuite can schedule posts across different platforms, and you can also reply to comments, see new followers and keep an eye on your timeline too. Other options include Social Sprout, Buffer and Later. The key features of many of these tools allow you manage multiple social media platforms from one place, saving time.

Lead Magnets and Email Marketing

When someone lands on your website, one of the best ways for them to become a customer or client is to offer them something, in return for their email address. Once you have a subscriber, you can then contact them directly with news of the services you provide. Lead magnets include useful resources, such as a planner or template, an eBook, a mini email course or taster coaching session.

Once you have your lead magnet created, it can automatically be sent once a website visitor has opted in. Every new subscriber will follow the same path, and receive a lead magnet and set of follow up emails over time, automatically. One of the most commonly used tools for this is MailChimp. Other options include ActiveCampaign, InfusionSoft and ConvertKit.

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Using automation tools can be a great benefit to your business, and many are free to begin with. As your business grows, or you increase your use of the tools, you may need to upgrade to use additional features. When running a business, smooth workflows makes all the difference. If you want some helpful advice on how we can work together to streamline your processes, feel free to get in touch.

7 Time Management Tips For Coaches

7 Time Management Tips For Coaches

As a professional coach, you know how to get the best out of people. But how good are you at making the most of your own time on a day-to-day basis?

Whether you think you are good at managing your time, or know that you could do better, the tips outlined below will be helpful. Even if one of them leads to a small improvement in your daily time management, this post will have been all worthwhile.

1. Eliminate distractions

Before you can even begin to start managing your time more effectively, you have to eliminate all the daily distractions (no matter how big or small) that have a habit of consuming your time.

Whether it’s your phone alerting you to an instant message, your email program throwing up a new mail notification, or something less technology-related like a pile of boxes that need sorting in the corner of your home office, all of these things can distract you.

They even say that just having your phone in view can be distracting. So when you’re working on something important, switch your phone off and put it out of sight (and out of mind).

2. Track your time

Do you know exactly how you spend your time each day? Many coaches don’t. But how can you begin to manage your time better if you don’t even know where it’s going in the first place?

Fortunately, there are some great time-tracking apps to help you figure out what’s stealing your precious minutes and hours. Toggl, Clockify and RescueTime are all solid examples.

Alternatively, consider quickly scribbling down how many times you get distracted by someone (calling, messaging, etc.) or whenever you get sidetracked working on a random task.

The point is to record how you’re spending your time so you can identify time drains, take control of the situation and make positive changes.

3. Have a to-do list & prioritise

It might seem obvious, but having a simple to-do list can really improve your time management. With the tasks you need to complete each day set out in front of you, you’ll never be wondering what’s next.

But don’t just list all the tasks that need completing. Assign them a priority based on urgency and importance. Then, look to work on your high priority tasks when you are at your most effective (more on this in point number 5).

Create your to-do list the evening before for the best results. It allows you to hit the ground running in the morning and get stuck straight into your daily tasks.

The fact of the matter is a to-do list keeps you focussed and motivated, plus you get a little mental boost each time you tick a task off.

4. Focus on one task at a time

As a busy coach, it can be tempting to multi-task. After all, it’s an effective way to use your time, right? Not really.

If you have decided on a task, see it through to the end before starting a new one. Leaving a task half-finished will likely result in you being unable to concentrate and focus on the next task on your to-do list. That unfinished task will be constantly lingering somewhere in your mind, so try to avoid leaving something halfway through.

However, you should never get so engrossed in a task that you forget to take regular breaks. A nice way to avoid this happening is to use one of the various time management methods that are out there.

The Pomodoro Technique is a popular one and it basically involves spending 25 minutes working on a task without any interruptions or distractions. Then, have a 5-minute break before starting another 25 minutes on the task. Repeat this pattern until you have spent 100 minutes working on the task, at which point you should treat yourself to a longer break of 20-30 mins.

5. Hack your schedule

There will be times during the day when you know you are at your most productive or feel most energised. Take advantage of these times by using them to work on tasks that require more concentration and aren’t necessarily routine.

Maybe you are super productive first thing in the morning when the rest of your household is still asleep, or perhaps you’re more of a night owl who smashes it in the evenings. Whichever your preference, utilise it to your advantage. It’s all about arranging your day to achieve maximum efficiency wherever possible.

6. Set boundaries & learn how to say “no”

As a coach, you inevitably have multiple clients. Chances are that those clients are all pretty different too, meaning their expectations and preferences vary. The bottom line is the more clients you have, the smarter you need to be when it comes to managing your time.

That’s why it’s so important to set boundaries and learn how to say “no”. Never take on more than you can comfortably manage and be prepared to push back when a client’s requests could lead to your attention becoming consumed.

At the end of the day, there’s a big possibility that you created your own coaching business because you wanted to be your own boss and work on your terms. Don’t let assertive clients try and change that.

7. Delegate & outsource

You’re a coach, which means you spend your life getting the very best out of people. But how often do you listen to your own advice and teachings, especially when it comes to working smarter.

One of the best ways to work smarter is to spend your time on the tasks that afford the most value. So it makes sense to delegate anything that can be completed by someone else at less cost to your business, or tasks that are required but are simple, meaning they can be easily outsourced.

This will free up your time so you can focus on what you do best: bringing money in the door.

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Not sure about delegating and outsourcing? Never done it before and aren’t sure just how easy it can be? Book a call with me today and I’ll be happy to show you.

Why You Should Consider Saying Goodbye to That Problem Client

Why You Should Consider Saying Goodbye to That Problem Client

When you first started your business, chances are you were keen to take on pretty much any client that came along — even if you weren’t 100% sure about them at the time. After all, you were more than likely still finding your feet and securing business gave you the confidence boost you needed.

But over the years as you and your business have grown, you will have come to realise that some clients just aren’t worth the hassle. And while you have now learnt how to spot potential problem clients before you take them on, you may still have a few whom you still work with.

The bottom line is that people and relationships change, and that’s fine. You just need to learn to know when to say goodbye and move on.

Now you might be thinking, why on earth would I want to actively get rid of a client, Jo!? And it’s a great question, which you’ll hopefully have the answer to by the end of this post.

Problem clients are restricting you and your business

Whether you realise it or not, problem clients are almost certainly restricting you and your business. That’s because more often than not you will be spending time satisfying their whims, instead of focussing on the stuff that matters to your business.

Then there’s the stress they cause you, which is sometimes reason enough to say goodbye. If there’s one thing that the recent coronavirus lockdown has taught me it’s that my mental health is more precious than I ever realised and it should be protected at all costs.

The problem for many entrepreneurs, freelancers and business owners though is that they hang on to problem clients because they are worried about how they will fill the financial hole that would be left if they got rid of them. I know this because it’s exactly how I felt until I finally took the plunge.

But once I’d politely informed a couple of my clients that I wanted to part ways with them, I felt a huge sense of relief and renewed determination. The best part is that I managed to secure a new client the very next day — some of that newfound determination shining through perhaps?

5 problem clients you should consider dumping

While a client can become a pain for all manner of reasons, here are the 5 main problematic traits that I and people in my professional network have come across:

Late payers

You know the ones. Those clients who always seem to have a reason for why they haven’t paid you yet this month, despite your agreed payment date having not changed for years. Clients who regularly pay you late disrupt your cash flow, cause you headaches and you simply do not need them.

Scope abusers

These are the clients who frequently expect you to do stuff outside of what you’ve agreed. For example, they’ll ask you to carry out a task, which you do, then they move the goalposts and assume you’ll be okay with that.

Confidence knockers

Having your confidence knocked in your personal life is bad enough. It’s even worse when it happens in your professional life too. Clients who constantly make you doubt your abilities and tell you where you are going wrong are not good. They’re not good for your business, your confidence or your sanity.

Wannabe bosses

There’s a good chance that you started your own business so you’d be the boss and not have to feel like an employee again. But this all changes when you’ve got a client who acts like they’re your manager. Remember, while you’re providing them with services, you are your own boss.

And clients you simply don’t get along with

As I’ve already mentioned, people and relationships change. If you find that you are simply no longer getting on with a client the way you used to, maybe it’s time to call it a day. There’s no point struggling along for either of your sakes. The connection will never be the same, unfortunately.

How to let your problem clients down gently

It’s never nice or easy sending a goodbye email or having a final telephone call, but it’s an inevitable part of business. To help you out and conclude this post, I’m going to give you a quick takeaway on how to let your problem clients down gently.

  • Give them plenty of notice — follow what’s laid out in your contract and give them as much time as possible to replace you. It’s going to be hard after all, right 😉
  • Stay professional — it’s never a good idea to burn bridges or make public any difference you had, especially in the business world. You never know when you might want a reference or similar.
  • Finish any outstanding tasks — don’t leave them in the lurch with a bunch of unfinished projects.
  • Refer them to someone else — maybe you have an associate who could help the client out. If they’re a better fit for the work or the individual, consider making an introduction.

Getting rid of problem clients might seem counterintuitive, but doing so can genuinely save your sanity, renew your sense of self-worth and end up strengthening your business going forward.