Yesterday on my knitting blog I posted about having more ideas than time to get them done. It happens to creative types (including entrepreneurs) quite often. This week I have been trying to pull it all together.
The sabbatical I took for re-focusing my efforts on this business endeavor officially ended on Sunday, so Monday I was back at my regular desk with all of the regular distractions. The time away allowed me to break some unproductive habits, opened space for some creative thinking and allowed me to focus on a bigger plan. So all-in-all I would call the sabbatical a success even though it got off to a rough start. The result is I have lots of ideas I want to implement, but a limited capacity due to the normal constraints of time, money or both. Even so, this week I was able to make serious strides in pulling it all together before the end of the year by utilizing a variety of tactics. Confirmed success remains to be seen, but I remain confident.
This comes up quite often on this blog, but it is simply because it is such a critical element of success in so many scenarios. Not everything can ever be done at once, even if you have a huge staff, but all the more so when personnel resources are limited.
In some cases prioritization is a function of deciding which activities will generate the biggest bang for the buck. Other times it is based on sequencing activities in a logical order — what needs to be in place first, second and so on.
It is always acceptable to postpone the implementation of an idea for weeks or months. A couple of the ideas I have are just going to have to wait until I have more capacity. However, by doing so, I am confident that when I do take action, I will end up with a much better result.
2. Hire Outside Experts
Whenever possible, hiring an expert in a particular area will save lots of time and should be well worth the investment. A coach or consultant is not an automatic “fix all” (I’ve written about that before), but they can and should bring insights, expertise and/or a fresh point of view.
One of the tricks to maximizing the investment is to be very clear what problem you are looking to solve or question you are needing answered. The more specific you can be, the more focused your expert can be with their time. The time I spent with my expert this week produced a very clear checklist of action items that I can address in fairly short order. Without her guidance, I am sure I would have just floundered.
3. Finish Before the Deadline
If you talk with anyone who has a reputation for consistent delivery of content, posts, newsletters, etc., most (if not all) is prepped, queued up and ready to go days, weeks or in some cases even months in advance. Seth Godin is reported to have said that if he stopped posting to his blog, it would be months, plural, before anyone would notice.
I am doing this right now with my new newsletter offering starting in January, called the Weekly Course of Action (click that link to sign up). My goal is to have at least 4 – 8 weeks of content ready to go at any time. Then if I am traveling, have an unexpected emergency, or some other distraction, the Weekly Course of Action will still be delivered on Sunday as promised.
If something that is more time-sensitive arises that you want to add, no problem! Just adjust the other content as necessary.
4. Delegate If At All Possible
The key to finding more time is to multiply yourself and the only way to accomplish that (as far as I know) is to leverage the time of others. Just because it is your idea doesn’t mean you have to be the one to implement all of the details. This is particularly true with repetitive tasks. Even if it takes more time to instruct and train initially, after just a few weeks or months, the time savings usually becomes very apparent.
The trick is giving up some level of control. Depending upon your personality this can be exceedingly difficult. But if you are struggling with delegation, just ask yourself how much unique value you actually bring to the task. My virtual assistant (VA) not only frees up some of my time, she also brings her own skills – which often supplement where mine are lacking.
5. Invest in Tools to Streamline and Systematize
These days there is an app for practically everything. Even so, that doesn’t mean that they are actually helping you be more efficient. It is rare to find any product that has no short-comings; inevitably there will be a manual step or work-around. However, if you can keep those to a minimum, you can truly gain time to be allocated to other activities.
By carefully evaluating your processes and tools on an annual basis you may discover it is time to make a change. Sometimes a change is required as a result of the changing needs of your business. Other times it is because you become aware of an available option that more closely suits your needs. Regardless, good tools, well implemented, can really make a positive productivity impact.
Although moving to ConvertKit has not been seamless, I truly believe the integration features will more than recoup my time within the first quarter. Ultimately I will be able to replace two applications that I have to manage separately with one. Not only will that be a win in time, it should also end up being a win financially.