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!

A Guide to ClickUp, and Why You Should Use It for Your Business!

A Guide to ClickUp, and Why You Should Use It for Your Business!

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!

Business Systems – What Are They and Who Needs Them?

Business Systems – What Are They and Who Needs Them?

Simply put, business systems are a combination of strategies, tools and processes that help coordinate activities and allow people to work together and to achieve a specific goal, or solve a problem. No matter what the task, a series of actions need to be completed in order to get it done. Systems may work well, or they may not! But, every business, even the smallest, needs effective systems in place to facilitate the day to day running, encourage growth and maximise profits.

The right systems bring many benefits to a business. Not only do they ensure that the needs of both the business and its customers/clients are met, but it does so in a way that makes operations cost-effective and efficient.

Types of Business Systems

Every business needs systems, but what they are and the priority of each one will depend on the business niche and the business goals. As a rule, each business area typically has its own systems that enables movement in steps from point A to point B. Areas of business such as payroll, human resources, inventory management, marketing and accounts each has a set of actions, processes and software that are different from one another, but they all add to the journey that achieves a goal or solves a problem.

Some systems may be small, such as sending out email campaigns. Others may be larger and more complex, such as on-boarding new clients or staff members. It is also important to work out who is responsible for running each system, so that it works properly. For example, if a payroll system does not have someone to ensure all the necessary inputs are made in the right time frames, it would lead to a lot of unhappy employees!

Successful business systems create easy workflows, but it is important to realise that systems also need to be flexible so they can be adapted when business needs change. For example, a change in the market, new rules and regulations, or changing demands of a supplier, could create gaps in output or bottle necks that slow down productivity. Having flexible systems in place helps to keep business flowing during times of change.

Whatever the purpose of a system, it needs to run smoothly to reduce the need for additional work and supervision, allowing business owners and their staff to work smarter, not harder.

Do your business systems need upgrading?

Good business systems create standards for consistent output, streamlining your processes and operations. This also makes your business more profitable. However, creating the right systems and implementing them can be a challenge, especially where old systems that worked previously are no longer up to the job.

Sometimes when we have done things in a certain way for a long time, it can be daunting to make changes, especially when there are many other correlating links in the chain of action that may also need to be changed. That is when hiring an Online Business Manager (OBM) can help.

Developing new systems can be a time consuming process, but it is worth it in the long run. An OBM can look at the systems you already have in place and, with a fresh set of eyes, can see what works well and what could be improved. They have the skills and expertise to tweak existing systems, or completely overhaul them, by developing new processes and finding the right tools to create better workflows for your business.

When business systems work well, it means that time and energy is not wasted and can be channelled into new areas of development, or give business owners the chance of a better work/life balance. If that sounds interesting, get in touch to see how we can work together!

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.

Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

Social Media Time Savers for Business Success

5 Simple Steps to Utilising Social Media
Without it Taking Over Your Life

No matter the size of your business, Social Media has become an integral part of its success. Whilst large companies have the finances to employ full-time social media managers, it’s not a luxury afforded by all. Small businesses, start-ups and freelancers are still responsible for managing their own social media presence and more often than not, the success of their business depends on it.

Using social media to your advantage and connecting with your market doesn’t need to be overwhelming, time-consuming or expensive. Following these simple steps can help your business succeed online without surrendering your life to social media.

Start With A Plan

As with all business models, the most important aspect is to have a strategy in place. By figuring out exactly what you are trying to achieve through your social media presence, you are better prepared to direct your time to the most useful tasks.

  • Set specific goals and objectives attainable, measurable goals based on metrics that will have a real impact on your business, like acquiring customers or increasing sales.
  • Research your competition. Save time and blunders by learning from your competitors mistakes and wins.
  • Conduct a social media audit. Step back and examine what is already working for you and what isn’t.
  • Create a social media calendar. Make sure that your content is where it should be, when it should be, with the right mix of content types for your audience.

Now that you know what you will be using social media for, you will be able to schedule how and when to use it in the most efficient ways.

Social media use is more than just posting content, you need to be engaging with your potential customers, too. Make a calendar or timesheet with allocations for creating content/graphics, scheduling, engagement etc.

Visual aids are great for reminding us to keep on task so make sure it’s physically noted in your to-do list or calendar and kept in view. You should set a specific amount of time to each part and you can even use a timer to make sure that you stay on track.

Choose the Right Platforms

It might seem like a good idea to be on all of the social media platforms, but if your target market isn’t there then you’re wasting your time. Your energy could be focused on another more profitable part of your business. It’s important to know where your target market is so that you can be there, too. This will result in less time spent making more profit.

Don’t assume you know where they are. It might seem obvious that Pinterest isn’t the best platform if your business sells bodybuilding supplements but you can use these handy social media demographics, put together by Hootsuite, to figure out where you should be.

Know Your Audience

As a small business or freelancer, you are able to micro-target your ideal clients via social media. This is a crucial part of your time spent on social media. Getting to know your audience allows you to create content which is specifically geared towards them and in return converts to more sales/customers and less wasted time.

Twitter and Research Now reported that 93% of people who follow small and medium-sized businesses on Twitter plan to buy from the businesses that they follow.

Quality Over Quantity

Trying to post on all of the social media platforms all of the time is a sure-fire way for your social media use to spiral out of control.

It’s much more time-effective, and successful for your business, to reach out to your audience in the places you already know they are present. Providing good quality content instead of spam builds a trustworthy brand and a well managed social media schedule.

Automation

The most effective means of social media use is to take advantage of the vast array of automated management tools. These are designed specifically to simplify your workload and mean that you can be posting on social media without actually being present on it.

There are countless different software options for this and they cover everything from scheduling content posting and centralising messages/mentions from all platform accounts, to curating content and creating in-depth analytic reports.

You may not yet be in the position to spend money on such programs but there are many free options available to you. Most of them have upgrade options for paid versions, too. If you decide to pay for them, you can include the rates in the bills for any clients that make use of them in your account. Some of them include –

  • Hootsuite
  • Buffer
  • Later
  • Tweetdeck
  • VSCO
  • Canva
  • Google Analytics
  • Followerwonk
  • Social Oomph

Utilising these will allow you to allocate just one slot per day or week to your social media use instead of being stuck on it all the time.

If there is one thing to remember about social media though, it’s that:

Automation is no replacement for organic engagement.

Social media users are always looking for authenticity and connection. This is what will ultimately drive your business success on social media. Make sure that whatever else you automate, you include time in your plan to interact with your audience.

  • Respond to comments/messages
  • Comment on blog posts
  • Like other relevant groups/pages
  • Repin images on Pinterest
  • Mention/Tag on Instagram

Whilst engagement/interaction may seem like an easy thing to omit in order to spend less time on social media, it is actually the most important part! If you choose only one thing to implement from this list, make sure it’s engage-engage-engage!

Running a business is time-consuming enough, don’t let social media marketing take up all your valuable time or cause unnecessary stress. Try these steps and let me know in the comments if you have any other tips to share!