While we were talking I shared some things I do to help be more efficient. These kinds of things are second nature to me, but she was fascinated by them. I have shared a few of these in the past, but I realized that with all of the new readers we have to the blog may benefit from some of these tips as well.
1. Group Like with Like.
Efficiency suffers when you keep trying to jump from thing to thing. For example, if I were writing this blog post then I suddenly stopped to place an order for books, then replied to a few emails and then came back to this blog. Why is that less efficient? Because I need to get back my train of thought. I also have to login to the ordering program. Emails can be time consuming and can pull me to other social media venues. Emails can also lead me to other things that need done. Nothing can be more discouraging than realizing how much is left to be done.
For a time I was checking my email twice a day—at the beginning and the end of the day. That was great when it was just me running the company, but now that I have more projects and more team members I find that checking my email about every 2 hours is the best system.
Do you see another piece of my program? I reevaluate my system periodically to make sure it is the most efficient way to do things.
2. Recognize the cost of doing it yourself.
We’ve discussed this many times, but I will make the point again here. I recognize that I spend money and emotional capital each time I try to do more than I’m capable of doing. Also, within my professional life, it is far more expensive for me to spend hours working on something that someone can do better than I can. Constantly evaluate areas where you can outsource tasks to others.
To determine the opportunity cost of doing it yourself figure out how much time it takes you, your hourly rate and your level of expertise doing it.
3. Make sure you set clear boundaries.
This is in your personal and business life. I have found that the best way for me to do this is to have an office away from the house. I couldn’t always do that—during those times I had to be much more disciplined—but now I have set hours when I am at my office and set times at home. I recognize sometimes doctor’s appointments will take me from the office early and sometimes a business meeting will hold me late, but for the most part I work to have set hours each day.
This also means that you have to be firm with family and friends. If you told a boss at any hourly job that you simply weren’t going to come in, were going to come in late, or that you were going to show up when you felt like it, you simply wouldn’t have a job long. Flexibility of the self-employed is nice, but it is also a reason that many people fail on their own. It is too easy to lose the discipline necessary to have success in business.
- Look over your calendar for this week and see what you have on your to-do list.
- As much as possible group things together.
- Decide your hours, and stick to them.
- See if there are any tasks on your list that should be done by others and begin to search for them.
Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter, The Writing Career Coach
Don’t miss a single posting! Subscribe here to receive these postings by e-mail. Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.
This blog originally posted on WritingCareerCoach.com on May 29, 2012.