“ I have no time.” is a phrase that is often thrown around, by entrepreneurs and other professionals alike, to share their frustration of how much workload they have to balance. Some people use the phrase to make it appear that they are busier than they actually are. If this is you, please stop. In my case, the more I said it, the more I realized that I used the statement as a crutch. I was making excuses for my inefficiencies
After I launched my consultation services earlier this year, my workload increased a great deal. I literally felt like I had no time. I abhor being late on deadlines or to events, so when I started working around the clock to prevent lateness, it made me feel ineffective – which, to me, is one of the worst feelings. I had to to do something really quickly, so I started talking to peers that I respected and researched other resources that would help me fix this important issue.
Don’t work harder, work smarter
One of my issues was that I was not realistically scheduling my meetings and tasks, nor was I following up with my team and collaborators efficiently. I found a really cool platform named Zapty, that allowed me to schedule and manage my projects very quickly. This platform provides an app, that allowed my team to communicate in real-time. It also allowed me to invite up to 2 clients to collaborate with, and video conference at my meetings. The downside is that the free version only allowed me to collaborate on 1 project at a time. The tool was so powerful that I upgraded and paid $6.00/month per user, which was great because I have a small team. Within a week of using Zapty, my team saw a huge difference in our communication and timeliness of tasks.
It’s ok to say “No”
I started consulting because I needed to continue to develop extra streams of income. In order to scale quickly, I took on every lucrative project that came my way. I allowed clients to manage my time and it was killing me. At my breaking point, I realized that I was doing a disservice to myself, which, if I continued, would affect my clients. On the next project inquiry, I told the prospective client, that I was not able to take on the project due to the timeline that was required. I was nervous and I thought I was passing up an amazing opportunity, and that the client wouldn’t want to work with me again. Guess what? The opposite happened. The client wanted to work with me, based on the referral of her best friend, so she pushed the timeline back, working out a deal for me to complete a specific task immediately. This ultimately made it possible for her to change her timelines around on another project she was working on, giving her more time to dedicate to the project she wanted me to work on with her. This is when I realized that it is ok to say “no,” and that at most times, it will work out in my favor.
Train em’ up
I previously led district-wide training programs for Target and Amazon, so training and development is something that I am very passionate about. When I left the comfort of my 9 to 5(which was more a 7 to 8), I was excited to apply everything I’ve learned to my company and my projects. I was up for a very rude awakening! Working within a small team and not having many resources, made it hard for me to build training programs from scratch and even more difficult to take the time to teach my team. On one sunny day in NJ, I received the best email ever! My business partner sent me an email with heavily discounted online training courses(this course was very helpful – Finance and Accounting for Startups). I thanked him and started purchasing all of the training courses that I personally needed. After completing my first course, I thought to myself, I should share this with my intern. I reviewed what my intern’s training gaps were, then purchased two courses that he needed. He was so happy that I did this for him because it removed the frustration of him having to text me questions. Even though I created an environment that he was free to call or text me anytime, he felt bad and thought he was bothering me. So now instead of only creating training from scratch, at times, I incorporate my best practices with material that is already created to solve for what my team needs.
Put everything on it
I never thought I would become ‘this’ person, but now I am the guy who sends calendar invites to my friends to schedule all of our outings. I even use my task list app to remind myself of favors my friends ask of me. This was necessary, in order for me to take control back of my life. If your friends know you and what you are going through, they shouldn’t have a problem with this. I also read Tame Your Gmail in 5 Easy Steps with David Allen, to help me organize my workload much better. If you want to manage your personal and business life, you cannot leave anything to chance. Make sure to assign the tasks of finding bar and restaurant locations, then put this information on your calendar. Two other useful tools are the Waze GPS and Google Maps apps, which do a nice job of giving you estimated times to leave, so that you can make your personal outings on-time and manage your workload more effectively.
These 4 productivity hacks have not only helped me use my time more effectively, it also increased my productivity – resulting in a higher income. It is very important to look at your life holistically and incorporate improvements into your personal and business life. If you think that long arduous hours are going to make you successful, you are absolutely wrong. Redefine what success means to you, and live a more productive and healthier life.