Running a business can be rough on the old circadian rhythm. When you're managing the business, working in the business, attempting to have a social life and planning your wedding, time really does have a tendency to run away with you. This is my life, and if you're a business owner then I'd hazard a guess that 75% of it is your life too. Oooh-wee. I bet you never imagined working past midnight every night when you went into your dream job; am I right?
Thankfully, I've spent 18 months living this nightmare so you don't have to, and I've got some tried and tested tools and techniques that have given me a (relatively) normal life again. Read on to have your life totally changed forever...
The Pomodoro Technique
Say it with me. Pom-o-dor-o.
This one is an absolute game changer. Master the technique and you'll master procrastination (as in, you won't ever do it again... obviously). Pomodoro is a time management technique devised by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980's. In theory, you increase productivity by taking small, regularly scheduled breaks between focused bursts of work. Here's how the system works:
- Write out your to-do list
- Set your timer for 25 minutes (1 Pomodoro)
- Work on the tasks until your 25 minutes are up
- Tick off your completed task
- Take a five minute break
- Take a longer break every 4 Pomodoros
- Rinse and repeat
I'm very into online tomato timers to keep track of this - try this one with adorable tomato cartoons!
Acuity - online appointment scheduling
We use Acuity, we recommend Acuity, we've just taken on a client who uses Acuity, my acupuncture practitioner in Lancaster uses Acuity... there's an Acuity revolution coming and you have to be a part of it. Acuity is an appointment scheduling tool with both free and paid versions, and a very cheeky personality that'll charm your socks off. If 90% of your emails are that uncomfortable back and forth where nobody really wants to say a date or time for a meeting, Acuity's gorgeous system is for you. It even hooks up to your Google Calendar and sends out automated reminders - fab!
Get started with Acuity here.
(This is an affiliate link and we will be paid if you sign up with it, but we'd recommend these guys even if we didn't have a link like this. They're awesome.)
Ultimate Diary Planner
Man cannot live by Google Calendar alone. I love a good diary, and it's taken me several years but I think I've finally found the perfect (ultimate, if you will) one. I can't tell you just how obsessed I am with this bad boy. There's space for a to-do list every day, financial forecasting and project management for each month, as well as pages for notes, goals and social media stats tracking. My favourite thing about this diary, though, has to be the beautiful community it has created in the Facebook group "Ladies That Plan". It's a large group of stationery-mad, kind-hearted ladies (and a few gents!) who are a bit like your own personal cheer squad.
This tool can pretty much do absolutely everything. You'll probably struggle to find anything as simple to use, cost-effective and multi-functional as Trello. I use it for content planning, invoice management, client management, Christmas card lists, sales pipelines... and I don't even use 50% of the features on there. You can connect to other platforms like Slack and MailChimp, attach documents with Google Drive, create to-do lists, even add stickers (which is the most important feature, obviously.)
My Magic Whiteboard
Heads up, guys - it's just a whiteboard. It's what you do with the whiteboard that's magic. All you need is a whiteboard (ours doubles as a flip chart stand!), dry erase pen and some sticky notes. Separate the board into "TO-DO", "DOING" and "DONE (or if there are more of you then separate "DOING" into your names). Now, empty your head! "TO-DO" should be filled with sticky notes, and it's not just tasks for the day, week or even month. This is pretty much your list from now until the end of time. When you get a new task (whether it's due today or in 2022), put it on a sticky note immediately - when it's down on paper, it doesn't have to be in your head. Just check the board each morning, move your sticky notes around, and feel the incredible release of endorphins every time you pop something in your "DONE" section.
Now, breathe a sign of relief. Things are going to be okay. You're still managing your business, working in your business, attempting to have a social life and possibly planning a wedding, but you've got this.
Of course, what's going to make things even easier for you? Outsourcing your marketing; obviously.
WestCoastCo. offer a full digital marketing package for just £250 a month including:
- social media management (on up to 4 networks)
- monthly blog
- custom branded graphic design elements
- comprehensive monthly report
- £25 Facebook ad spends & management (limited time offer!)