Telling yourself to focus on one thing at a time may seem straightforward, and perhaps even obvious, but there are still so many people that we come into contact with that do try to do everything at once. This is not a productive way to grow your business and maintain a happy, healthy life. We’ve all been there, but trying to tackle your to-do list in one go will most likely result in you not achieving anything at all, or at least very little (and even then anything you do complete isn’t likely to be of the best to your ability). Instead, dedicate your full attention to a single task before moving on to the next one.
In our personal lives we all seem to heed this advice, but in business we can sometimes crumble under the pressure of clients, sales prospects, staff, business partners, suppliers and all sorts of demands from the outside world! Have a think about the list of chores you make on a Sunday. You are more than capable to wash the windows, hoover, tidy up and unload the dishwasher, all before your guests arrive for Sunday lunch, but only if you tackle each one of these things in turn. If you start them all at once you’ll most likely finish with half-washed windows, bits that you missed on the carpet, a half-empty dishwasher and feel quite stressed about preparing that Sunday lunch! If you had dedicated yourself to each task in turn, giving each task your undivided attention and focus before moving on to the next, I can guarantee you will have got them all done in plenty of time and to a much higher standard. Apply this mindset to your approach at the office.
Take your time and give each task the attention it needs. Sometimes the day can feel overwhelmingly full of things that demand our attention, but try to take a deep breath and approach these tasks in a calm, logical and focused way. Set yourself clear goals and objectives, making sure you review these on a regular basis, and then break these goals down into individual tasks. Each morning you could then make a realistic to-do list, which allows you to work towards your overall goals in a sensible and realistic way. Make the list, order the list in terms of each task’s importance (notice I say “importance” and not “urgency”). Focus on value-adding activities first, not the person that bombarded you with the most emails the day before, and then attend to each task one at a time, ticking them off as you go along. Gradually you’ll get a feel for just how realistic the number of tasks you are setting yourself really is and you’ll start finishing your to-do lists each day with no problems, and can then delegate the rest!
On the subject of goals, knowing where you are in life is just as important as where you want to be in life. It is very important to outline what you are doing now and what you want to be doing in the future. Evaluate your current situation and your goals in concrete ways. Perhaps you are generating £500 revenue a day and want to be generating £600? In this respect, it helps to set SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. That is, make sure you are “specific” in the goal you are setting (e.g. “to increase average daily sales revenue to more than £600”), make sure it is “measurable” in some way so that you can really evaluate whether you have reached the goal, make sure it is realistically “achievable” given your current resources and constrains, ensure the goal is “relevant” to your overall long-term objectives and ensure that you place a time constraint on the goal, achieving the goal within 3 months for instance, as otherwise it is very easy to ignore!
Make a plan, set a number of SMART goals and objectives, then break them down in to specific tasks (in the form of daily or weekly checklists), focusing on a single task at one time. I promise that you’ll notice your productivity shoot through the roof and your mind starts to feel a little less exhausted! Try to follow your plan right to the end. If it fails, don’t get discouraged. Instead, revise a few of the steps and then continue under the new plan. Perseverance is certainly key to success!
Try to visualise your goals. Write them down on a physical sheet of paper (or a whiteboard) and then display them somewhere you’ll see them every day. Do the same with your daily or weekly task checklist so that you’ll be stay on track. If you are a visual thinker you could even create a “vision board”, where you not only write out your goals, but you illustrate them and thus add associate more emotion with each goal you have set yourself. What does that goal look like? What would it mean to achieve it?
So many people get tied down in the day-to-day demands of growing a small business, neglecting anything outside of the office, and lose sight of why they set the business up in the first place. This lack of focus makes them feel demotivated, so they fall behind and then want to quit. Of course, quitting won’t bring you the life you dreamed of and all of your hard work will have been for nothing. Focus on your goals, surround yourself (visually!) with the goals what you are striving for and then try to motivate yourself in as many ways as possible in your pursuit to achieve them – this includes taking a well-earned rest. Don’t quit!
Make Use of Leverage
Many of you will have realised that you simply cannot (or at least, should not!) do everything by yourself when it comes to growing a small business. Perhaps you don’t have the necessary skills to complete some tasks effectively or simply don’t have enough hours in the day. This is where using leverage comes into play, and why you should consider outsourcing tasks to one of Virtalent’s talented UK Virtual Assistants.
But, what exactly is “leverage”? Simply put, your leverage is your capability to influence other individuals and their decisions, as well as specific events in your business and personal life. It is also the reason why some businesses grow much quicker than others – they are able to use the efforts of other people to strengthen and execute their own business processes. The two main ways to use leverage involve using your own money and time, both of which are (of course) limited, and so it is important to learn how to leverage other people’s money and time. There are only 24 hours a day… if you don’t use your leverage effectively, you are limited to a very small number hours in your working day to spend time on your business, outside of sleep, family commitments, household chores, keeping fit, commuting, eating and all of the other time outside of the office.
Just think about how simply using the Internet is a great leverage of your time. It reduces the cost for you to reach customers (through social media and blogging for example), it removes the need for you to have a shop front with high footfall or to have centrally-located offices, it reduces the need for you to travel long distances to see customers or suppliers, it allows you to communicate with people across the world… the list goes on. Can you imagine how different your business would be today, without the Internet and its associated technologies? We want you to apply this same mindset to other ways in which you could boost the ROI on your time and money.
This mindset applies to outsourcing. Be in business for yourself, not by yourself. Create win-win leverage; outsource tasks to a talented UK Virtual Assistant instead of taking on permanent employees that drain your time and energy, and watch your company’s rate of growth skyrocket. Try to delegate anything that requires too much of your time and presence (how about a Virtual Assistant?). Focus on managing and improving the businesses processes that these tasks are guided by instead.