There’s one super skill that I have over other business owners. I don’t think I’m the best at marketing, the best at planning, the best artist, painter, salesperson, or time manager. So how have I been able to grow my business so successfully and so quickly? How do I encourage staying power, and maintain upward growth over time? Everyone has that one thing they do well, and mine is this: I am able to be incredibly efficient.
That’s it. None of those buzzwords we hear, none of the normal “keys to success” are my special talents. So what sets me apart, and allows me to set and meet goals regularly is just that I am efficient, and can get a lot done in a short amount of time.
Whether you own your own business or not, you know that there never seems to be enough time in the day. So how can you take that time and get more out of it? Here are our tips on how to become more efficient as an entrepreneur!
You’ve likely heard of task batching, because it’s a popular topic these days, but it’s actually extremely effective. Every time your brain switches tasks, it takes up valuable time. Task batching means putting similar tasks together in a set timeframe, and allows you to concentrate fully on the task at hand.
The most popular example is only answering your emails once (or twice) a day, and turning off your notifications otherwise. You can do this with social media as well, and I like to divide things like errands, computer work, and physical work (calligraphy, painting, etc.) into different sections or even different days when possible! That way I don’t have to keep getting my painting supplies out and cleaning them up again and again.
This is a tough one as an efficient person myself, but you have to realize the value of the work that makes you special. In the design/coaching world, I need to spend as much time designing and coaching as possible. Someone else can tie bows on invitations, package shipments, and even run errands for me. As you grow, you should find yourself outsourcing more so you can focus on the work that brings in the most money.
Don’t get Hooked on Perfection
I’ve coached so many people who get hung up on doing something perfectly, to the point where it makes them unable to produce. One coaching client spent 3.5 hours filling out our goals sheet - this is the first assignment in Business Re-Boot Camp - and while I was glad she took it seriously, I told her she needed to limit herself to 1.5 hours for all the remaining exercises.
Perfection is a wonderful goal, but at some point, you just have to put the work out there, whether it’s an invitation suite, your first website, or a new blog post! There’s a balance between high quality work and good time management - if you spend 4 extra hours on an assignment and score 1-2 points higher than someone else, who really “won” in that situation?
To help with this - set clear goals for yourself on every project. If you need to put your new website together by January 1, then do it, even if it’s not 100% perfect. Give yourself an accountability partner for larger goals like this, to keep you honest and check in with you!
Automate as Much as Possible
If you type the same email more than once a week (say, your pricing or availability), you’re wasting your time. There are so many tools that you can use to automate things these days (Honeybook and Dubsado are two of my favorites!), but it can also be as simple as having a Google Doc with your most common email responses already typed up. Any information that you send often can also be worked into a brochure that you can simply attach to an email and click send!
A few examples of things we’ve automated:
Payments / Invoice Reminders
“I’m not available...here’s some referrals” Emails
Email List Emails
Pricing / Invoice Creation
Habitualize as Much as Possible
In a similar vein, you can “automate” processes within your mind and body too! Here is a great book on the subject of habits that I loved! What it comes down to is that you can make a habit out of almost anything, and that your brain doesn’t work as hard on tasks that you’ve habitualized. This also means you can do those tasks faster!
You may think your business isn’t right for habit-forming, since it changes every day. But if you have any weekly or even monthly, tasks, then those are perfect opportunities to form habits! If you do admin work every Friday, for instance, then your brain will get used to it, and you’ll know that you can’t book anything else on Fridays. Then, if you think of something that you need to do during that admin time, instead of stopping your current task to complete it, you can add it to a Friday list and move on. Knowing that you’ll have time to cover those tasks means that you can allow them into your space without distracting from whatever your today tasks are!
Build Your Space
Your workspace is super important to your success as a business owner. It doesn’t have to be a giant space - I recently downgraded from an 12x12’ room to a 7x10’ room - but you have the power to make it right for you. Think a little outside of the traditional setup, about what you need most often, and where you need it.
I had a custom desk built with special cubbies for both of my printers on rollout drawers, as well as slots to put large papers and mats in. The top of that desk is extra long for assembly of invitation suites, and I have a basket hung nearby with scissors, adhesives, and other things we regularly need for that assembly. I thought about what I needed closest to me and made that happen, and it’s made my setup time for most projects almost nothing.
You don’t need custom furniture to make that happen either - Ikea has tons of convertible storage options you can use to your benefit! Just do it thoughtfully - and frankly, stop worrying about how your office “should” look in photos! How often are you actually doing a photoshoot in your office? And how often are you actually working in your office?
Recharge in the Right Way
...I’m not a huge “self-care” advocate. I think it’s a trendy topic, and that most of us are too prone to self-care as it is, or at least the wrong type of self-care. That will likely be an entire post of its own soon! But the truth is that it’s way too easy to “treat yourself” to a long lunch break or a little sleeping in as an entrepreneur, and that’s not being efficient with your time!
Being efficient means that you take the time to do things when they need to be done, and work hard to stick to that schedule in order to recharge in a meaningful way. It’s not about taking 2 hours off in the middle of the day, it’s about completing a workday by 5 so that you can get to the gym or hang out with your family, because that’s what’s important to you.
Recharging in the right way will allow you to be more efficient with all of your work time. If you’re constantly spending an extra hour on Instagram (don’t worry, we’re all guilty sometimes), then you start to feel rushed and that’s when you cut into what should be your real recharging time - and your family, your friends, and your psyche all suffer.
How do you recharge in the right way? Choose those tasks that are energizing for you - sleeping in, hiking, eating out, etc. - and work them into your schedule. Preferably as a “reward” for good time management instead of as a precursor to anything else. Sean Wes, for instance, takes every 7th week off and is planning an entire year-long sabbatical next year (tons of info about this here). It’s okay to drift a little and lose focus sometimes, but if you deliberately plan out activities that will actually reenergize you (hint: social media scrolling is not one of those things), then your mind won’t have as much trouble reigning it back in on the task at hand!
What do you think of these tips? Which is your favorite, that you can’t wait to try? If you’re looking to find some inefficiencies in your process flows, check out our video on it here! I’d love to hear your tips for becoming more efficient with your work in the comments below - and bonus question: tell me what YOUR business super skill is!!! Let us celebrate the things that set you apart and make you stand out! It doesn’t have to be directly related to your craft, as you can tell with mine, but it’s that secret weapon in your toolbox that no one else has!