How many times have you been told to say ‘YES!’ to everything?
While it’s true that you shouldn’t let fear stop you from saying yes to opportunities that move your business forward, agreeing to do everything could be doing you more harm than good.
Whenever you say ‘Yes’ to anything, you’re also (by default) saying ‘No’ to using your time to do something else.
We’re often motivated to say yes because we want to make other people happy. But if making them happy doesn’t align with your business or personal goals you need to learn to be more comfortable saying NO!
So what sort of thing should you be looking to eliminate from your business to help increase your productivity?
1) Responding to phone/email/social media enquiries as soon as they come in
It’s OK to let calls go to voicemail, or allow a 24-hour turnaround on emails and DMs. Some people argue that slow response times might be the thing that turns potential clients away.
I’d suggest that clients who can’t wait more than 30 minutes before getting snarky are not the type of people you want to be working with.
Set realistic expectations and boundaries early on, and your clients will be happy to accept them as the norm for doing business with you.
If you can eliminate the need to be on top of your emails, phone calls and DMs you’ll be more focused and see a big improvement in your productivity.
According to Pete Leibman, Author of Work Stronger, responding immediately trains people to be impatient and reduces your ability to focus:
“Responding to emails immediately makes you slower and less productive. You obviously cannot respond to emails immediately unless you have your inbox open all day. And, if you have your inbox open all day, that means your attention will be divided all day. “Distracted” is a terrible way to go through your workday.”
2) Meetings for the sake of meetings
How often have you been sitting in a meeting for hours, without anyone saying anything in particular? If you started your career in the corporate world, this is probably something you’ve had to endure more than once.
The Harvard Business Review points out that, in the last 50 years, meetings have got longer and more frequent. Executives now spend around 23 hours each week in scheduled meetings vs 10 hours in the 1960s.
And surveys show that 75% of workers believe meetings are an unproductive and inefficient use of their time.
How often have you sat in a meeting for hours without anyone saying anything in particular?
Thankfully if you work for yourself these types of meetings tend to happen less, but there’s always the threat of pointless meetings from over-keen service providers or members of your team.
For example, I out-source my web maintenance to a fantastic tech company who offer a monthly 1-hour web conference to discuss any issues that have come up in the previous month. While I really appreciate the information I get during the call, I’ve asked them to send me a monthly report instead.
It’s a much more effective use of my time to glance over a report and send over any action items, than it is to spend 20 minutes exchanging niceties about the weather before we discuss minor issues from the month.
Only join conference calls or attend meetings if they’re short, have a specific goal which requires your immediate input, and a definite end time.
3) Answering repetitive questions
Do you find yourself getting calls or emails about the same subjects week in and week out?
If you’re starting to resent constantly typing out the same responses to the same questions, don’t do it!
You obviously don’t want to ignore important questions but it’s far more efficient to keep a log of common questions and then write a FAQ page on your website. You can either direct clients there, or copy and paste your responses into your emails so that you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.
Lexie Lu of BlueLeadz explains why having a list of FAQs is such a good idea:
“An FAQ page means that visitors with questions don’t need to send you an email or call your office to get a question answered. This helps you free up time and prevents you from needing to send similar messages over and over.”
Meeting people face to face can be extremely important, especially when it comes to attracting new clients.
Events, conferences and speaking engagements can also be great for your business but before you attend anything, think about what you’re hoping to achieve.
Travelling is a big drain on your time. In some cases it can be worth it, but often we find ourselves at events because we have FOMO, and not because they’re going to have a positive impact our businesses.
Business Insider describes FOMO as, “feeling anxious that something exciting or interesting is happening elsewhere. Social media can often perpetuate this anxiety, when you see posts and pictures about the wonderful time your friends are having without you, and the feeling can be all-consuming.”
We often find ourselves at events just because we have FOMO
It’s important to be honest with yourself. Recognise the events that you only want to go to because you’re worried you’ll miss out. And make sure anything you attend is going to give you a return on the time you invest in getting there and participating.
Eliminating unnecessary engagements and travelling will give you back valuable time to get more productive in your business.
For most people, saying NO can feel pretty uncomfortable. But learning what to eliminate the unnecessary from your business will have a massive impact on your productivity.
Make sure you assess every choice you make against your goals, before making any commitments. Whether that means spending your working hours on tasks that matter, or only doing what you want to do in your free time. Making the right choices about how you spend your time will have a big impact on your business and your life.