As your business grows, it’s natural that the outside demands on your time and attention will grow.
This could be a barrage of DMs on social media, constant emails or a phone that won’t stop ringing. Maybe you feel like you’re constantly busy and overwhelmed, but rarely achieving the things that are going to push your business forwards.
For the average person, checking emails, social media newsfeeds, the latest news headlines or sports scores is as much a part of daily life as eating and sleeping. But by continuing in this way it’s impossible to reach your big goals because you’re spending too much of your time reacting to events, instead of intentionally shaping your day.
If you really want to make a big impact in the world, and reach a wider audience you need to become more deliberate with the actions you take each day.
Here’s how to get more done in your business by taking back control of your time:
1) Get disciplined with your communications
How many times have you sat down at your PC to start a piece of high impact, focussed work only to have your concentration hijacked by a string of ‘urgent’ emails and calls from clients or service providers.
You were so crazily busy all day that you forgot to eat lunch, and yet, you made zero progress on your project.
So at the end of a long day, you shut down your PC feeling deflated and like you’re never going to get your new offer off the ground.
Sound familiar? You’re not alone.
In fact, a recent study by McKinsey showed that the average worker spends over 2.5 hours per day, reading and responding to the 120 messages they receive each day.
This is a default work mode for a lot of people, but it’s not going to help you move your business forwards.
The best way to tackle this is to keep your browser logged out of your favourite social media platforms, shut down your inbox for the majority of the day, and turn off all sound on your phone. Then schedule one or two fixed time slots per day to log in to social media and check your emails.
It’s important that you allocate a set amount of time for this so that you don’t get sucked down the communication rabbit hole. Give yourself enough time to deal with urgent and important messages, and learn to ignore or delay the rest.
By doing this, you’re giving yourself enough time to keep your clients and suppliers happy. And you’ll be able to get more done in your business by taking back control of your time.
2) Out-source social media and customer support enquiries
If you’re struggling to keep on top of enquiries from clients within a small block of time each day, you should consider out-sourcing this job to a virtual assistant. You don’t want to leave a trail of ignored and disgruntled customers.
So if cutting down on contact could hurt your business, you need to bring in some support to take over the job.
Delegating inbox management and customer service will allow your business to have its cake and eat it
Yes, you’re going to need to invest some money in help, and that might feel really scary. But not doing so could either hurt your relationships with your clients, or leave you in drowning in a sea of emails and DMs. It’s vital that you have support systems in place to allow you to take back control of your time.
Delegating inbox management and customer service will allow your business to have its cake and eat it. Your customers will have a dedicated point of contact to keep them up to date and happy, and you win back your time to focus on your zone of genius.
3) Remove distracting apps from your phone
How tempting is it to have a ‘quick scroll’ of your newsfeed or take a ‘little peek’ at your inbox, whenever you’re in need of a short break? And how often has that short break turned into an hour or two of wasted time?
Deloitte found that the average American checks their phone 47 times a day, and spends over 3 hours a day on their phone.
Nowadays it’s simply too easy to flash up your phone and load up your favourite app. Which is why it’s soooooo tempting to do it all the time.
And those apps are designed to give you a little pleasure hit with every notification so that you keep coming back for more.
App developers have a scary understanding of human psychology and their goal is to use the pleasure centres in your brain to capture your attention and make money from it.
It’s time to say NO! When you remove the distracting apps from your phone you’ll give yourself a series of extra hoops to jump through (turn on PC, load up a browser, type in log in details). For most people it’s just not worth the effort for a quick social scroll.
You can still schedule in time to log in, but by making it more difficult to gain access, you’ll find that you’re much less tempted to distract yourself and procrastinate over the important stuff.
4) Set clear objectives at the start of every day
Think of your work day a bit like a trip to the shops. If you pop into town with a shopping list containing all the things you need, it’s easy to whip around the relevant shops and pick up everything you’re after. I’m usually in and out in super quick time, having completed all of my errands without getting sidetracked.
On the other hand, when you go into town without a list, you’ll probably wander from shop to shop browsing and buying things you don’t really need.
And after a few hours roaming the streets, you might give up and go home, feeling like you haven’t really achieved what you set out to do.
Starting your day without a clear idea of what you want to get done is very similar. If you don’t know exactly what you hope to achieve by the end of the day, it’s very difficult to plan your route to get there and to stay on track. This is when you start to procrastinate and get frustrated by your lack of progress towards your bigger goals.
By setting goals on a daily basis, you create a solid structure and a strong battle plan for your day
On the other hand, if you know what you need to get done, it’s much easier to stay focussed and to keep moving in the right direction without distraction.
Jari Roomer of Personal Growth Lab, talks about this in his blog for Medium:
“Most people work in a very unstructured and unfocused way on a day-to-day basis. This leads to frustration, procrastination and a lack of progress. But, by setting goals on a daily basis, you create a solid structure and a strong battle plan for your day. This will make you much more productive on a daily basis”
Set aside a few minutes before you go to bed, or first thing in the morning, to write a list of everything you want to accomplish today. And use your list as a guide to help you make the small daily baby steps you need to start hitting your long-term objectives. This will really help you to get more done in your business by taking back control of your time.
4) Schedule appointments with yourself
I’ve already mentioned putting in place boundaries when it comes to communicating with clients, but you should also try to ringfence your diary. Sometimes, in the name of keeping other people happy, you might give up time that you’d planned to spend on important pieces of work.
Things like client calls, meetings, events, catch-up coffees or favours for friends can all take over big chunks of your day if you let them. I’m in no way saying that you should stop helping out your friends or seeing people for coffee.
But what I AM saying is that you need to prioritise time with yourself, as much as you’d prioritise time booked in with others.
So, if there’s a specific task that requires your full attention, create an appointment with yourself to get it done. Or, if you can, schedule set days in your calendar which are just for focussed work and nothing else. Make a commitment to yourself that certain times in your day are sacred and only for you and your work.
By doing this it becomes much easier to turn down requests for your time (without the guilt) because you ‘already have another commitment.’ No one needs to know what that commitment is except you. But it allows you to spend set chunks of your time in a way that moves your business forward, instead of constantly responding to the demands of other people.
Once your business has reached a certain level, you might feel like your time isn’t your own any more. And that the freedom you used to enjoy to set your own schedule is being eroded by other people demanding your attention. It’s an inevitable part of growing your business and attracting more clients.
But spending your day constantly in reactive mode is a recipe for overwhelm and a massive drain on your productivity. It’s time to shake off all of the distractions and start taking back control of your time.
Do you feel like you have a good grip on your time? Let me know in the comments.