3 Ways to Save Time and Handle Interruptions

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I read a recent article that stated “running a small business isn’t a job; it’s twelve jobs!” Most small business owners wear many hats.  They are the CEO, the marketer, the sales person, the bookkeeper, the social media strategist, the facilities manager and the list goes on and on.  All these things take up time.

I work with multiple small business owners and no matter what tasks I begin helping my clients with, the majority end up having me manage their e-mail because it takes so much time during their day.  A case study conducted by the Danwood Group found it takes 1.5 minutes on average to read and recover from each e-mail. Try these 3 simple tips to lessen the amount of time and interruptions throughout your day:

1. E-Mail can be a To Do List that others can write on.  If we are not careful, we will allow others to dictate our To Do List and how we will spend a big part of our day. Try this:

SCAN your inbox for urgent and important items when you first open your e-mail. Take care of anything urgent.
CLOSE your e-mail.
BLOCK 30-60 minutes on your calendar once or twice later in the day to process your e-mail…when YOU have the time.

2. Turn off your E-mail Notifications.  Turn them off on your phone, tablet and computer. Allowing every e-mail that arrives in your inbox to interrupt your day destroys your productivity. Remember you have set aside some time each day to read and process those e-mails.

3. Use Templates.  Ever find yourself typing the same sentences over and over when writing or responding to e-mails? If so, you should be using templates. Read through your sent mail and see what types of messages you are regularly sending, then put them in e-mail templates.

Time.  You can’t recover it, make up for it or reverse it.  There are 24 hours in a day and 168 in a week and those numbers aren’t changing. What you can change is using your hours more efficiently and wisely by decreasing the amount of time you spend on unimportant interruptions.

headshot2About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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Reflections on the Past-Questions for the Future

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I officially opened my personal/virtual assistant business, Another You, LLC, 2 years ago in August.  It has been an exciting and eye-opening couple of years. Years that I am so blessed to have experienced.  Being a female entrepreneur has allowed me to bring money into our household and afforded me the time to take care of my family and take better care of myself.

My past career was in medical practice management. I answered to physicians and was responsible for staff (upward of 25). Tough gig! I love that I work for myself. I have only me to answer to.  I do not have to worry that others are not doing their best for my clients or my business.  I like that the success of my business was/is solely my responsibility.

Two years ago I started out with 0 clients and a lot of time.  Today I have a lot of clients and 0 time. Not that I am complaining as this is exactly what I wanted. I have clients that I work every day and others that hire me for projects only. I love the variety of my days. I love learning about my clients industries such as IT, law, travel, politics, non-profits, etc. I have had the pleasure to work with wonderful small business owners who treat me with the utmost respect.

I have learned so many new things and have reminded myself that I am smart and if I don’t know something, I can learn it easily. I have been given the chance with 2 of my clients to get back into my past with medical coding and billing.  I was even able to teach myself a new medical software program this summer!  Regretfully, I have also had to learn some hard lessons. Lessons such as, even though your client may be a local small business owner, you cannot always trust them to pay their bills.  I have also had to learn that not all people are true to their word or their written contract.

So where do I go from here? So far I have met my 1 year goals and my 2 year goals. Now I need to decide what is next.  What do the next 2-3 years look like?  I have cut down on networking because I am busy working on client accounts. I am receiving additional work due to client referrals.  I had 3 small business owners contact me this week regarding my services!  I only have so many hours in my day. When the days become too full do I stop taking on new clients? Do I hire someone? Not sure either of those options sound good to me.  But I know that when the time comes to make that decision, I will do what I have done these past 2 years and that is to make the one that works best for me, my family, and my business.  I love being a solopreneur!

Happy 2 year anniversary Another You, LLC!

What Are You Willing to Give Up?

ZVJ6OumLI run my work days by a schedule. Everything that I need to do is on my Google Calendar.  In my line of work, working with multiple small business owners, this is a must.

I am happy to say that MOST things that I have scheduled are completed each day and deleted from my calendar.  There are some days, where I cannot get to everything on my list.   I start with my highest priority:  1) client work 2) volunteer obligations 3) my business.  Some days lessor priorities do not get done and they are moved to the next available day.  This brings me to this Blog Post.

“Write and Publish Blog Post” was originally scheduled on my calendar for 4/15. Well today is 04/27 and I am just now getting around to starting it. Obviously, it has been moved multiple times on my calendar.  Priorities got in the way.

 How do we get everything done that needs to be done?

What can we put off or even give up?

What can we delegate?

Every small business owner that I know has this same problem; too many tasks and not enough time. As I grow my business and gain more clients I have found it necessary to give up some of the scheduled things on my calendar:

1) I network more strategically.  Networking has been a HUGE part of building my business. In fact, it worked so well that many days I can’t find the time to network!  I still want to stay in front of the contacts that I have made and still like to meet new people. But it has become necessary to me to cut back on meetings and decide which groups are really worth my investment of time.

2) I have also tried to schedule more telephone meetings than actually meeting at an office or neutral location. The drive time alone is a huge time saver and I find that people are more focused during telephone conversations; maybe because they are just as busy as I am!  Of course, I do meet with all my prospects and referral partners face to face if they wish.

3) I believe that Social Media is important-more for some industries/companies than others. I have cut back on the amount of posts that I schedule per week. To date, my clients have come from strategic networking and word of mouth.  I want to stay in front of my contacts and remind people what I can do for them so I continue to have a presence on a few social media venues (only the ones that reach my target market).  Cutting back on the times that I post per week has allowed me more time for my clients.

Try stepping back and looking at your calendar to see what things you may be able to remove to make more time. For me, I actually recorded, how I was using my time. This made it very clear to me what needed to go or be reduced.   For my clients, it was a matter of hiring someone to help with all the things that were on their calendar.  I would love to hear about some of the changes that you have made to allow yourself more time to run your business.  What have you given up?

About the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. http://www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207

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It Takes a Village…(To Run a Business)

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In 1996, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton published the book, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us. The focus of the book was on the impact individuals and groups outside the family have on a child’s well-being. The book’s title is attributed to an African proverb: “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Recently, I met with a woman who, after retirement, started her own consulting and coaching business. She thought she would start a business doing what she loved and also have time to enjoy retirement with her husband. So she hung out her shingle and before she knew it her small business flourished and she got busy; too busy, in fact, to do it all herself. Her  business had turned into a wonderful success but she was working more than she wanted. She was not spending the time she had envisioned on herself, her husband, family and friends. She loved the work but understood that something had to be done. Being the well-rounded woman that she is, she was not afraid to admit that she needed help. She began outsourcing some of her work. She delegated scheduling, calendar management, social media marketing and was now discussing the delegation of other business matters to me. During our conversation, she mentioned that, “It takes a village to run a business.”

Outsourcing is a term borrowed from the corporate world that refers to contracting out a business process to a third-party. Applied to small business, outsourcing is about taking things that we need to do to run our business and having someone else do it. Outsourcing just 4 hours out of your 40-hour work week gains you a 10% increase in time that you could be spending with clients, friends and family. The average “working” person according to Dr. Wetmore of the Productivity Institute, spends less than 2 minutes a day in truly meaningful conversation with their spouse or loved one. Think about how you would improve your life, relationships and business with an additional 4 hours a week.

So, how do you know when to outsource something? Ask yourself these 3 questions:

  • Am I doing this task “after hours” or not at all?
  • Am I procrastinating on this task?
  • Do I dread starting this task?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to outsource some of your tasks.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather that of being proactive. Asking for help is not a sign of failure, but yet a sign of success. Any of us who have done it or know someone who has, understands that it takes a village to run a business. By handing off tasks that don’t require your time, energy and unique skills, you will be able to focus more on both your business and relationship growth.

headshotAbout the Author: Sheri Miller is the Owner of Another You, LLC, a Business Concierge/Personal Assistant service in the Dayton, Ohio area. Sheri helps small business owners save time and money by taking care of their day-to-day administrative tasks. Think of her as your right hand while your left hand is growing your business. www.anotheryouerrands.com 937-416-2207