I’ve been asked quite a lot of questions about how I operate my business. Over the coming weeks and months, I thought it might be good to pull back the curtains and give you a tour of my business in the hope it might help you with your own business and life.
To start, I’m answering a question I get asked A LOT – how am I able to get so much done in my business, when I’m writing a book, looking after two small children and (sometimes) tending to household duties? The latter does get neglected… a little!
The thing is, I read an article this week about how, if you want to raise an employee’s productivity, you should allow them to work from home. Apparently, you can get an extra day per week out of an employee. A whole DAY? That is crazy.
So, running a business from home, quite clearly must have an advantage over others who work in an office environment among others.
Look, to be honest, I can see pros and cons to both. I remember as a 17-year-old journalist who was posted to a remote area in Tasmania for a year and spending most of the time opening and shutting the fridge door. Obviously, this was pre-Facebook.
Which of course is another issue with working from home – the temptation to see what friends and family are doing on social media.
However, overall I think my productivity levels are much higher than they were sitting in the newsroom, constantly being interrupted by other people’s phones ringing, conversations happening around me and the commute to and from work (although, really, what’s 10 minutes!).
Since starting my business, these are the things that have boosted my productivity levels:
Using Google Calendar
I don’t write a to do list anymore. I was one of those people who wrote lists for my lists. Earlier this year I completely ditched my to do list and now schedule all my tasks into Google Calendar. Sure, some things happen at the last minute and I have to make changes, but it’s easy to drag and drop tasks around the screen. It also helps give me a realistic picture of whether I can take on a new client or take time out to make a triple loom band bracelet (which happened on Tuesday between 2pm and 3pm, by the way!).
Dedicated writing / creation time
Inside my Google Calendar, I have a dedicated time for writing or creating products or programs. This is often from 9am till 11am, when my brain is most alert. By about 2pm, it’s generally craving a chocolate hit. As part of this, I also set the timer for 50 minutes of writing, then I have a 10-minute break. This can be walking around, getting a drink or meditation. Followed by another 50 minutes of solid writing and another 10-minute break. During writing of the Shaking the Foundations book for Fairbrother Australia, I actually did the 50/10 method for an entire six hours, with a 30-minute break in the middle.
This is what it looked like:
- 9am: 50 minutes writing + 10 minute break
- 10am: 50 minutes writing + 10 minute break
- 11am: 50 minutes writing + 10 minute break (walk or meditation) + 30 minute lunch
- 12.30pm: 50 minutes writing + 10 minute break
- 1.30pm: 50 minute writing
- 2.30pm: School pick up!
Using low body clock periods for social media
As I said, 2pm can be chocolate hour in my office. I just struggle to get anything done some days. I find I often just waste time trying to get motivated. Now, instead of stressing about it, I use it to do tasks that don’t require a lot of brain power, like paying bills, scheduling social media and responding to emails.
Making the most of gaps in the day
Our school carpark gets mighty full mighty quickly at school pickup. If you’re not there by 2.30pm, then you miss out on a space and have to walk a mile. However, the bell doesn’t ring till 2.55pm. That’s an awful long wait doing nothing. Instead, I use that time to do much of the tasks above – paying bills, scheduling social media and responding to emails. I even use it for writing blog posts. I’ve written before about how I’m able to get the most out of my iPad to boost productivity in my business.
Dedicated Facebook and email time
I’m pretty strict on not opening Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or emails regularly – ie. every five minutes. Now, unless an email is urgent, it only gets attended to at certain times of the day when it’s scheduled in the calendar. Otherwise, I find if I open Facebook for five minutes, two hours later… You know what I’m saying! It can be hard, but when you look back at what you’ve achieved in a day you’ll have no regrets. Plus, your friends will still be there, discussing the intricacies around the unfairness of life.
Have an accountability partner
Speaking of Facebook…. some of the Facebook groups I’ve become part of have really helped with accountability. One of my goals has been building an email list. One of my mentors posts each week and makes us accountable with our list building. Once we’ve announced how many new subscribers we achieved for the week, the next task is to share how we’re going to build on that number for the week ahead. I’m also about to start working with a financial adviser on setting goals that he will make me accountable to. With the Fairbrother book, I let the subjects of the book know I would have a new chapter written each month and they helped ensure I stuck to that. Whether it’s business goals, hobby goals, writing goals, life goals, parenting goals or marketing goals, make sure you have someone in your life who can help you reach those targets. It will definitely help keep you motivated.