I know it’s been a while since I last wrote; this is because I’ve been riding the wave of what Dan Kennedy calls "The Phenomena"; which happens when all these forces in your business suddenly align, and new opportunities and new clients just keep rolling in. I’ve been busy developing some social marketing campaigns for some top level clients- all focused on developing more effective branding and accelerating the growth and goodness of their online reputation. It’s been exciting, and challenging, to cull through all the possible ways to promote, and select the best of those available. Nothing like time pressure and deadlines to push me to get clear. 🙂
So in learning how to surf the wave of The Phenomena, I’ve had to be even more efficient than usual. Here are 7 new strategies I’ve been implementing with great benefit; see what you think of them:
1) Shift from email to RSS feeds. There are some people that I’d like to hear from occasionally; not nearly as often as they send their email newsletters. For this group of people, I’ve unsubscribed from their email newsletters and subscribed to their site’s RSS feed instead. This lets me collect their information and read it when I want to. This has saved me time and energy in terms of saving emails to read later (don’t do that anymore) and allowing me to focus my attention better on immediate work issues.
2) Set up a separate email account for email newsletters. This way, when there are items you want to read, you can have them all gathered into one account and can quickly screen, sort, and take action on these. I use an extra Gmail account so I can access this from anywhere. I’ve sometimes been able to sort through some of these while waiting to board a plane, or when sort of watching TV. It keeps my main emailboxes clean, which has been great.
3) Create process maps for routine activities. I have been spending time creating flowcharts and process maps for my business, down to the most routine detail, including how I want my office phone answered, how I want my filing done, and how products are to be shipped out. These maps include pictures, logins, and excruciatingly clear directions. They were excruciating to write; I normally can’t be that detail-oriented for that long- but now I’m *so* glad to have these done. As I hire new people to help grow my business, I can hand them one of these manuals and they can start training themselves. I expect the time I put in now to return 100x the investment. So even though it’s time-consuming to processize your business, the effort is worth it. It’s a form of additional leverage- invest time once, and benefit multiple times.
4) Practice strong boundaries. Nothing like being extra busy to help you get really clear on what’s important, what needs to happen, and what can be delayed, deferred, or dumped all together. You must be ruthless about protecting your time and energy. Drop the "shoulds" and focus on what is absolutely critical to move your business to the next level. I was surprised to find it wasn’t always what I thought. You can’t say yes to every opportunity, and nor should you try. Part of being efficiently successful is knowing what 20% of your effort is bringing 80% of your results.
5) Clearly label problems and set deadlines to find a solution. It’s amazing how many solutions are out there waiting to be found. When you need to find a new services provider, for example, set a deadline for finding a solution. You can lose hours and hours of time trying to find the "absolute best" option (if that even exists!)- when, most of the time, good enough is good enough. Look for solutions which are satisficing rather than ideal. This will keep the momentum moving forward and keep you from getting stuck in analysis paralysis.
6) Find points of leverage. There will be certain opportunities and situations which will give you much greater value than others (greater value being determined by rate of return on investment, least time or effort for same results, etc.)- these are the areas where you should devote the majority of your time and focus. For example, you might be asked to speak at a conference which will put you in front of 500 members of your target audience. Should you take this opportunity? Most likely. Constantly seek out the most well connected clients you can find, and be of huge service to them. This, alone, can propel your business faster and further.
7) Stay focused on the present. When life is coming at you fast, it’s easy to get stuck vacillating widely between the past and forward to the future. This spends a lot of energy. Instead, try and remain current- which means you narrow your focus to what has to get done, right now, and work steadily to accomplish that goal. Sometimes, it can be easier to focus on something small and doable rather than trying to chart out the big picture. I’ve spent hours and sometimes days conceptualizing the perfect plan, which doesn’t hold up to test of implementation.
Finally, in order to be most efficient, you should also track your results. If you’re feeling good, happy, productive, and resourceful- you’re probably on the right track. If you’re feeling stressed out, inefficient, or upset; your attitude and approach both need some tweaking. There is no point in striving for more efficiency if you aren’t happy doing it.
What about you? What other ways do you have of staying happy and efficient as you build your business? Please comment and share your best ideas.