The Best Time Management Systems for Entrepreneurs

The Best Time Management Systems for Entrepreneurs

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

Pomodoro Technique

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.

Time Blocking

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.

Time-Tracking

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!

The Art of Delegation – an Essential Tool for Efficiency

The Art of Delegation – an Essential Tool for Efficiency

In your business, have you ever stopped to really consider how many tasks you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis? It may surprise you. It’s no wonder that so many of us feel overwhelmed at times. What if there was a way to cut down on tasks, without compromising on the quality and quantity of your output? Well, there is! It’s called the art of delegation!

What can I delegate?

Delegating is where you offload some of your tasks to others, freeing up your valuable time. When you are busy with the day-to-day operations, it can be hard to know exactly what can be delegated and to whom. First, you need a breakdown of all the jobs you do within your business, and that’s where the Business Task Audit can help. It helps you identify everything that you do, so you can get a clear idea of what can be outsourced to someone else.

Benefits of delegation

The most obvious benefit of delegating tasks is that it helps you to manage your time. This enables you to improve your focus on other jobs, or creative thinking, strategizing, or even just have some time to yourself!

If you are not ready to hire someone, or outsource tasks, you can make use of automation tools to help you work smarter. Rather than delegate to a person, hand over your email marketing, social media, call scheduling and more to software and apps instead!

Better time management has the added effect of making you more productive and drives forward the growth of your business. So, delegate those time-consuming tasks!

Should I outsource to a VA or an OBM?

A VA (virtual assistant) can be a fantastic asset to your business. They are usually well-versed in many of those repetitive admin tasks, understand how to use lots of different software and business tools, and can help take some of those everyday jobs off your list.

But, what if you want to outsource more complex projects? That is where an OBM (online business manager) can help. An OBM can handle entire projects, use their analytical skills to improve workflows, and can assist you in strategic planning for the growth of your business. They can look closely at your business systems and create alternative ways of working that are more effective. An OBM has those higher-level management skills. They get to know your business and bring fresh ideas that could help take it to the next level. Read more about the differences between a VA and OBM.

Take the leap!

So often as business owners, we feel as if we must be in control of all aspects of our business. This means that we under-delegate, or think that in order for things to be done right, we must do it ourselves. After all, it would take time and effort to train someone new. Or, perhaps it is a fear of failure that makes it so hard to let go of our ways of doing things.

It is important to remember that delegation will benefit your business. When you are juggling too many tasks, YOU are the one who is more likely to make mistakes. Whether you hire an OBM, a VA, or pass some extra tasks on to your existing team members, delegation will help your business run smoothly and lower your stress levels!

If you’re ready to take charge of overwhelm and make better use of your time, begin by downloading my Business Task Audit. It’s a simple process, and a valuable experience. When you see how much time you could save and how much more you could achieve by delegating, you’ll be excited to start!

The Differences Between a VA and an OBM Explained

The Differences Between a VA and an OBM Explained

Sometimes the words ‘Virtual Assistant’ (VA) and ‘Online Business Manager’ (OBM) are used interchangeably. While both are support roles for a business, there are some key differences between the two. If you’ve been considering hiring a VA or OBM, knowing the difference will help you decide what level of service you need for your business. 

What is the role of a VA?

When your business grows and tasks become too much to handle with the capacity and resources you have, outsourcing to a VA is a great option. Whether it is help with general admin, or specialist tasks such as social media management, a VA has the expertise to take on many common business processes on your behalf. A VA takes direction from you, so when you want help, you send your VA tasks for completion.

A VA often works for a number of clients, each for an agreed amount of hours per week.

What does an OBM do?

An online business manager is less task oriented than a VA, rather they focus their expertise on helping you manage your business to drive growth and increase revenue. Partnering with an OBM means you allow them to understand your business inside out, and use their knowledge to work independently and manage things as they see fit. The advantage with this is that you do not have to micro-manage, an OBM can solve problems and keep your business running smoothly without your input.

Another advantage of working with an OBM is that you can take time off work or put your effort into new projects without worrying about the details of your existing business. Your OBM handles it all!

Adding to the confusion between the two roles, there may be some VA’s that also offer OBM services, but an OBM typically dedicates more time to their clients and has a deeper level of business management knowledge. An OBM tends to have fewer clients, and charges a higher rate due to their higher level of business acumen and expertise.

Do you need an OBM or a VA?

The level of help you need, how much control you are willing to hand over, as well as your budget, will be factors in deciding whether to hire a VA or an OBM for your business.

If you are looking for someone to oversee the complete management of a project, want to hand over the running of some parts of your business, or need help with planning and strategy to take your business forward, an OBM is the right choice for you.

If you need more staffing power to speed up day to day tasks, you like to keep a close eye on your operations, or would prefer to hand over the less exciting jobs to free up your time, a VA is there to help.

It is easy to see why the two roles are often confused with one another, as there is some overlap with the types of activities that a VA does, and an OBM will oversee. But when you really understand the difference, the two roles are distinct.

There are many great reasons to hire an OBM, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs who typically lack a balance in their professional and personal life. There may also be a point where you feel as if you are spending too much time managing your business, and not doing the creative thinking that made you start your business in the first place. Whatever the reason for hiring an OBM, it can make a huge difference to your time, stress levels and overall well-being, as well as enabling new business growth and direction.

If you are looking for an OBM to help take your business forward, feel free to get in touch.

Why Hire an Online Business Manager? Top 5 Benefits for your Business

Why Hire an Online Business Manager? Top 5 Benefits for your Business

An Online Business Manager (OBM) provides professional, managerial level support for businesses. While there are similarities between an OBM and a Virtual Assistant (VA), there is a marked difference. A VA provides general office support, whereas an OBM oversees and manages a wide range of operational processes, freeing up your time so you can use your expertise where it is needed most.

Here are the top 5 reasons how hiring an online business manager benefits your business:

1. Handles Daily Tasks

Those daily tasks that seem to get in the way, yet are an essential part of keeping your business running smoothly, can all be handled by an online business manager. Project management, administration, communicating with staff and customers, organising documents and data… an OBM can create efficient workflows and improve time management.

2. Increase Growth

When you are not bogged down in the nitty gritty of core operations, it allows you to focus your time on developing your business further. You will have more time and resources to scale up and expand your customer base, and be able to act on new opportunities that come up.

Not only that, an OBM is likely to have the experience and skills to help you create new business strategies, and a wide business network where you can make new connections.

3. Fresh Set of Eyes

Sometimes, we are so close to our business that we ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’. When you first began your business, you may have had ways of doing things that worked well at the time. However, as your business grows or changes, those processes become less efficient. It can be hard to make changes when you’ve always done things a certain way, or don’t have time to implement a new way of working. An OBM is a fresh set of eyes on your business, and may be able to suggest new ways of streamlining processes that you never thought of before.

4. Improve Work/Life Balance

Running a business is often challenging, especially for entrepreneurs who have to manage many aspects. When you spread yourself too thinly, both your business and your personal life begin to show the strain. There may also be times when you need to take a day or two off, such as through illness or commitments. It’s impossible to be in two or three places at once and still expect to be working effectively, so hiring an OBM can help provide that much needed manpower to make sure all areas of your business are running smoothly.

5. Freedom to be Creative

As a business owner, founder, or CEO, you are the visionary that steers the ship. When the day-to-day pressure is lessened, you can use your creativity to think of new ways to develop your business, how to best serve your customers or clients, and create future plans that fully align with your business values.

Ready to find out more?

Whatever the size of your business, if you are finding that time spent on core processes is slowing down growth, then hiring an OBM could be the answer you’re looking for. Feel free to get in touch to see how we could work together to support the growth of your business.

Let Me Introduce You To My Team (Updated)

Let Me Introduce You To My Team (Updated)

Having a team around you (even a virtual one) is a great benefit not only to your business, but also your health and state of mind. The fact I am in a position to delegate tasks to others is a great feeling, and achieving it yourself is not as hard as you may think.

When I first started my business, I struggled for a long time trying to do everything myself when, in fact, I should have been taking my own advice as a virtual assistant and outsourcing some of my work.

Now, having been in business for just over 8 years, I have been outsourcing work to freelancers for the past 6 of those at least, and I feel much better for it.

A few years ago I had a great conversation with a client on Skype about what can I offer to people that is unique. The conclusion was that not only can I provide services to clients myself, but I can also offer a team of freelancers who have additional skills and can go above and beyond the core services I offer.

My fab freelancers and I have found each other via lots of different avenues. For example, I used to use PeoplePerHour to look for freelancers and that’s how I met James (below), but nowadays I usually meet them on Facebook. I am part of a great group called Freelance Heroes and this is my first port of call when I am looking for some help with something I don’t have the skills for.

One of my clients also frequently tasks me with finding freelancers for him and his clients, and that’s where I head first. I also use some other groups, depending on the sort of person I am looking for.

Without further ado, I want to introduce you to some of the freelancers I work with as I think they are all fabulous.

My Virtual Assistant – Amy

I have been working with Amy for over 2 years now. We met through a client that we both work with (although I found her for my client and was so impressed I hired her too). We have an ad-hoc working arrangement, so I send her tasks as and when I need them completed. The tasks vary, from work for my own business, or helping me out with some of my clients’ tasks when they all have a lot going on at the same time. I am also teaching her the ropes on book formatting so she can start helping me out with this as well. I know that if I send a task over to Amy then it will be done within the given timescales and to a very high standard.

Amy has a website www.alvirtualassistance.co.uk.

My Graphic Designer – Ryan

1798553_10203184087468247_1173854769_nRyan and I have been working together for a while now. In fact, I am having trouble remembering how we first got together. Ryan works mainly with book covers, but more recently started formatting as well. For my eBook formatting service this works really well as I can recommend Ryan to my author clients or pass him enquiries when I am too busy. Many of my clients use Ryan to design their covers.

Other things I have used Ryan for are my social media cover images, as you can see all my cover images are the same across my networks now, and Ryan did a great job at designing these for me. He has also designed cover images for one of my clients, which they were really pleased with.

Ryan has a a website https://bookbrand.co.uk.

My Writer – James

Screen-Shot-2014-04-15-at-14.04.26As I mentioned earlier, I discovered James on PPH years ago. Since then, he has become my every day go to writer for both my own articles and for my clients. James helps to take away all my stress around writing by providing a fresh perspective and polishing stuff that I’ve written myself to make it sound that bit better. Without him, I would be a very stressed virtual assistant!

James is on LinkedIn.

So that’s my core team. Feel free to get in touch with any of them if you think they might benefit your own businesses. I am sure they would love to be of assistance.