The last long weekend of the year is upon us and many entrepreneurs are cheering as they reclaim time to focus on their business endeavors, even as they shed a few tears as their beautiful kiddos have returned to school.
While back to school activities bring about a whole new level of scheduling, not having the little darlings at home can free up some significant calendar space for business development activities and filling your sales pipeline if it’s run a little low.
Here are my top 5 tips for getting back to work!
1. Set your schedule – the kiddos likely have a regular bed time and you should too. Same thing with the start of your day. Get up at the same time every day…..yes, even on weekends.
It might be easier for you to get up an hour or two ahead of your family, so you get early emails out to clients who now have a chance to take action and reply while you’re doing the drop off or walking littles to the bus.
You have time, make sure you are making the right choices about what you are doing with it.
Adjust your hours – if you work from home and run a virtual business and from 7:30am -9am when you are getting the kids out the door is a little hectic, don’t schedule calls until you have a clear mind and the ability to focus. It might seem obvious, however I can’t count the number of times I hear entrepreneurs talking about how hard it is to get things done while everyone is trying to get out the door. So here’s my business coaching tip – don’t.
Studies tell us that the trajectory of our day is influenced by how it starts. This goes for you and your family. If you’ve ever fought with your kids, spouse or partner on the way out the door in the morning you know what I am talking about. The start of the day is just as important for you as it is everyone else in your house and your business.
Also, watch the end of the day, if your kids get home from school each day at 3pm – it might not be the best experience for you, your client or them if you are in the middle of a call, and have to keep asking your kids to “keep it down” and ask your client to “hold on a sec”. Adjust accordingly.
2. Ask your clients if they need to adjust their hours - This is just a variation of above. But I know my clients with kiddos aren’t going to be able to focus 100% on our coaching if their appointment is at 3:00 and the bus drops off at 3:15. Ask your client in advance if they want to move to earlier or later sessions in the day depending on your business model.
3. Get help – I don’t know about you – but I am clear on my hourly rate and while yes, it is important for my mental health to leave WWHQ – there are things I don’t need to do.
Let’s look at this common task - dry cleaning. To go to the dry cleaner and back is about 35 minutes – if I did that once/week that is just over an hour of time that has been taken from generating revenue. Cost to me over $300 + cost of dry cleaning.
There is a dry cleaner near my home that drops off and picks up, my order it’s “green” and toxin free. Hurray! Yes, my per garment cost is slightly more, however by not having to run this errand myself, I leave that space on my calendar and can do client work that I am being compensated for. I have now turned this errand into time that makes me money instead of costs me money.
If you don’t have a cleaner that will drop off and pick up – check and see if Task Rabbit is in your city. I love having someone take care of my errands – prices generally range from $25-$35/hour for errand type services. Where I live there is no errand sequence that has taken more than 90 minutes and the most I’ve spent is $90. If my bill rate is $300/hour – I just made $210 in that hour instead of losing $300.
Last year a client hired a Task Rabbit to get her car tested at emissions and stand in line for her to get her vehicle tabs. If you’ve ever been to the department of licensing to renew vehicle tabs – you know how long that can take! She more than made up for the three hours it took the Task Rabbit do complete this errand– that included the driving!
This can apply even to the small people in your home who need a little more attention – consider bringing someone in for a few hours in the later afternoon to play with them in your home. There is likely an enterprising teen in your neighborhood who could be up for the task!
4. Automate any process you can – if your clients schedule appointments with you, use an online calendar scheduling system. Stop trying to coordinate everything by email. Put them in charge of appointments with you and responsible for any rescheduling they need.
Make a list of tasks you do over a 3 day period and at the end look at how many can be automated, or refer to #4 and get help.
You do not need to be doing the $20/hour tasks. If you are, I guarantee these tasks are contributing to you not making and keeping more money in your business.
5. Plan your day the day before - Few things are less effective, than arriving in the morning wondering where to start. You lose SO much time in the day if you spend your first 30 minutes planning the day.
Block out the last 20 minutes of each day and look to the top 5 things that need to happen the next day. Write them down, prioritize them and then assign them as appointments with times on your calendar the next day.
You dramatically increase the likelihood of execution and completion of these tasks if you have them as appointments, and will get more done in less time when you plan your day the day before.
Share your best strategy to gain focus after summer ends in the comments below.
Debbie Page Whitlock is an award winning entrepreneur, business coach and leading authority on cash flow for women entrepreneurs. She teaches and writes about all things related to creating sustainable, scalable and potentially salable businesses and other useful bits of business wisdom she’s acquired on her 20 year entrepreneurial odyssey.