5 Time Saving Hacks For Your Business

Hey working mum juggling all the things.  If you’re like me, you’re probably trying to keep many plates spinning. The business plate will keep spinning if you have awesome systems that make the most of your precious time.

How much unproductive time do you think you have on a weekly basis?  Are passwords hard to find? Do you waste time trying to remember how to do something you did a month ago? Perhaps you spend 15 minutes every morning working out what it is you should be doing.

Good systems = efficiency.  As mums with home based businesses we can often only rely on ourselves to make every aspect of our business run smoothly.  There is no team, no boss and no HR department implementing systems and policies on our behalf.

I work during school hours which means I have 4-5 hours in my working day.  I know I need to work effectively in those hours, be focused on the right tasks and have the outcomes I need to keep moving my business forwards.

Before reading on, it is a good idea to assess what you are spending your time doing.  You might be surprised. Use this FREE Daily Time Tracker for at least 2 weeks and jot down what you do every half an hour (be honest).  To truly become productive, you first need to know where you can make some changes.

Here are my 5 time saving hacks for your business.

TASK MANAGEMENT SYSTEM & GOAL SETTING

I use Asana (free version) and I love it.  Becoming familiar with a task management system will greatly improve your productivity.  If you are a paper and pen person that’s fine as long as your system is working efficiently.  

For me, I add all my tasks to Asana, and I mean ALL of them. That includes any personal tasks for the week.  For example, if there is something on at school that I want to attend, it goes on my daily task list because it will need to be factored into my day.  One of the reasons we work from home is to have the flexibility to be there for our kids, so respect the occasions your kids need you and plan accordingly.

Why do I love Asana?  I love being able to see the whole month laid out in front of me.  I love being able to swing tasks across to different days if they didn’t get done.  I love being able to program in repeating tasks that happen daily, weekly or monthly.

Goal Setting – create a system that sets out your quarterly, monthly and weekly goals.  You can use my goal planner here. Your daily tasks will come from your goals.  Having the goals in place will ensure you keep inching forward in your business.  Make sure your goals are achievable. As a general rule you want:

Annual Goals: 7-10
Quarterly Goals: 2-3
Monthly Goals: the tasks it takes to complete a quarterly goal
Weekly Goals: 3
Daily Win: 1

Create a repeating task in Asana (or whichever program you use) to remind you to set your quarterly, monthly, weekly goals.

ACCOUNTS

I use Quickbooks.  For years I persisted with the story that my business wasn’t big enough to warrant paying for an accounts system as I diligently filled out my Excel spreadsheets and manually produced invoices in Word.  Boy am I glad I woke up to the idea that an automated system would allow me to be much more productive. Quickbooks does not cost the earth and what it gives me in return is invaluable.

My system is to have a repeating task in Asana once a month to check off my expenses and balance my accounts.  I invoice each Monday morning. At the end of the financial year, I have all the data I need to send off to the accountant for processing.  Honestly, do this for your business if you haven’t already.

SOCIAL MEDIA & CONTENT STRATEGY

One of the biggest stumbling blocks I come across when I work with mums in business is social media.  The problems are generally; finding time, knowing what to post and when, understanding the different platforms and serving rather than selling.

Here are my 3 golden rules to save time and consistently produce content for social media

  • SYSTEMISE YOUR DAYS: This is what works for me. 
    • Monday – content production
    • Tuesday – scheduling, promotion & collaboration
    • Wednesday – strategy (working on the parts of my business that are going to keep it moving forwards)
    • Thursday – accounts & admin
    • Friday – catch up day
  • BATCH YOUR WORK – batching means to group similar tasks together and do them at the same time.  Imagine writing all your blog posts for the month and scheduling all your social media on one day?  How much time would that free up for other aspects of your business?
  • STRATEGY – for your social media to be consistent you need a strategy.  Create a task in Asana to remind you to work out your content strategy quarterly.  Commit to posting a certain amount of times per week, know which channels you will use to serve your audience, then work out what your posts will be.   If you blog then set out what posts your will write for the quarter and your social media will flow from there.

WRITTEN INSTRUCTIONS, TEMPLATES & PASSWORDS

There are many tasks in our businesses that we do on repeat.  Some things are weekly and some happen every 3 months or so. For all the tasks you do more than once, even if it is once a year you should have a written list of how to instructions.  Think of it like this. If you were out of action and needed someone else to come into your business and run it for a week, they should be able to read your instructions and do your tasks.

For example, do you occasionally use the Ads Manager in Facebook and each time you go back to it you have to remember what to do?  Write down instructions to follow each time instead of having to work it out all over again in 3 months time.

Templates are useful for repetitive tasks.  If you find you always send the same email replies; create a template.  If you create the same Pinterest Pins or Instagram posts then have a template ready to go.  Think about where else in your business you repeatedly do a task that could use a template?

Passwords can be stored in a cloud based program like LastPass.  This will save you heaps of time searching for passwords and can be accessed from anywhere by using the app on your phone.

EMAILS & G-SUITE

Are you a gmail user like me?  I have my emails stored in folders and try to keep my Primary tab limited to 20 – 25 emails.  This helps me feel more organised and less overwhelmed.

Any emails relating to social media go into my Social tab and any emails that i’ve subscribed to go into my Forums tab.  The search facility is a great tool for finding emails that you may have tucked away in a folder and will save you time looking everywhere for the one thing you need.

I check my emails first thing in the morning then close it down to be checked again at lunchtime.  

Other G-Suite products I regularly use are Docs, Sheets, Drive, Keep, Calendar.  There are so many useful tools for your business and by having your information stored in the cloud, it is easily shared with colleagues, collaborators or online.

Hopefully this post has highlighted some ways you could save time in your business.  Is there anything else you’d add to the list?  Let me know in the comments below…..

Remember, if you want to do an audit of your current habits then use my free Daily Time Tracker.  (Google Sheets)

Much love for now…
Nicola

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A Beginners Guide to Creating New Habits

I’m not going to pretend that creating new habits is easy (change is never easy!) but if you truly want to be more productive and have a successful business, there are certain habits that will serve you well and lots that won’t.   This post is aimed at female business owners so read on if you are wanting to start some new habits for success.

Before creating new habits it’s a good idea to do a quick audit of your daily routines to see which habits are serving you well and which aren’t.  For example, if you are wanting to be more productive but are spending hours scrolling on your phone; that habit requires change. Perhaps you are trying to be more healthy and do more exercise but you always save exercise for the end of the day so it often doesn’t happen; again something needs to change.

Once you have thought about or listed all your daily habits, read this list of 25 Habits of Successful Women in Business to work out if there are any other areas in your life that could do with a shake up. 

It takes around 21 days to create a new habit.  Those 21 days take effort, consistency, persistence and belief.  And remember; if nothing changes, nothing will change.

INSANITY: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting the same results.

Albert Einstein

The following will help in creating and sticking to new habits.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO CREATE A NEW HABIT?

Be very clear on why you want to create your new habit.  There needs to be a concrete reason for doing it or it won’t be a sustained change.

Overcome the excuses. 

It is often our mindset that is stopping us from making a new habit a reality.  Take the time to listen to what is blocking you from the change. We repeatedly tell ourselves stories that have often been ingrained from childhood.  But with a simple mindset shift, those stories can change and new habits can form.

For example, I told myself for years that i was a tired type of person and definitely not a morning person.  The thought of getting up before 7am filled me with horror. Now, I have my alarm clock on the other side of the room, I have the alarm set for 6.17am every morning and i’ve changed the stories I repeatedly tell myself about early mornings into positive ones.  This morning time is now my chance to do yoga, go to the gym, write in my gratitude journal and I love it.

Triggers

Certain triggers will help you succeed and some will keep you falling back into old habits.  

When creating a new habit, attach it to something you already love to do.  By combining it with something that fills you with joy you are more likely to keep going.

For example, I wanted to start writing in my gratitude journal daily, so I have placed it next to the coffee pot in the kitchen so I can journal while my coffee is brewing.  On the contrary, my old habit was to scroll through my phone while my coffee brewed and before I knew it, i’d wasted 30 minutes. By removing my phone from the process and adding in my gratitude journal, I am achieving my goal of filling my morning with a positive attitude of being grateful.

Make Success Easy

To succeed you need to follow through.  For this you need a plan.

Make it easy to take action by being organised. If you want to do yoga first thing, lay out your mat the night before and plan which YouTube video you will follow.  My example of having the alarm clock on the other side of the room makes it easy for me to get up and out of bed. Make sure your mind is not sabotaging your new habits by slipping into negative thinking or old patterns that no longer serve you.  Try committing to the new habit by writing down a positive affirmation that you read daily. What small changes can you make to ensure easy success with your new habit?

Reward

In the early stages of creating a new habit, it’s a good idea to associate it with a reward.  Go to the gym; grab a coffee afterwards. Have a super productive day; listen to your favourite podcast in the evening.  Go to bed early during the week; allow yourself a late night watching Netflix at the weekend. You get the idea. If you can attach something nice to a new habit then you are more likely to succeed.

Now it’s time to go for it if you really want to see changes in how you do things.  Go create new success habits, read the 25 Habits of Successful Women in Business again and start today!

Let me know how you go in the comments below.

Much love for now…
Nicola

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5 Ways to Motivate Yourself to have a Productive Day

Some days I just don’t feel like it.  Some days it’s a struggle to get out of bed, get the kids organised for school and get everyone out the door with shoes on that all motivation seems to have flown out the window by the time I sit at my desk.  Do you sometimes feel like this too?

Motivation is a funny thing when you work alone at home.  I love working from home and I love being my own boss but it does mean that there is no one to keep me on track.  I am my own champion, my own goal kicker and to do this I need motivation to have a productive day.

As many working mums do, I work during school hours so my working day is significantly smaller than the norm.  It is for this reason that I have focused my energies on supporting mums with home based businesses to be productive.

I know that productivity is the secret sauce to being a mum and a successful business owner.  Discover your greatness by having your most productive day every day using these 5 ways to motivate yourself.

1. Go Back to Your Why

If you have delved deep into why you are doing what you do then that is a huge motivation to keep achieving.  When you feel in a slump, simply remember your why and that will give you a kick start to get going again.  

My reason for showing up everyday and doing my 4 hours alone at my desk, is to allow me to have the time and financial freedom to be there for my kids.  To take them on adventures, have the odd meal out and provide for our future. We are all different, so take the time to work out why you have chosen to have your own business.  And come back to it regularly.

2. To-do Lists

Lists are my favourite things when it comes to organising my time.  Be strategic with lists however, or you will find that it’ll be a never ending list of things to do.  It is important to be concentrating on the RIGHT things to bring you closer to your goals.

For motivation to increase, start achieving your list of tasks and get that sense of achievement.  If you know you are showing up and taking small steps towards a bigger goal, you’ll be motivated to do more of the same.

TIP 1!

Work out if you are a pen and paper or digital person when it comes to your to-do lists.  I love using Asana and now write everything down there.

TIP 2!

A good way to organise your tasks is to have 7-10 big annual goals, then 2-3 quarterly goals, break those down into monthly tasks to help you reach those goals and then have around 3 outcomes per week plus a daily win.

3. Stop Procrastinating 

If you are procrastinating then you are letting your fears put a dent in your motivation.  Procrastination is the habit that develops when we feel scared of a task. As humans we want to keep ourselves safe so we will always take the easy option rather than put ourselves out of our comfort zone.  The ‘stuff’ we do to stay safe often looks like; scrolling social media, spending time on household tasks rather than work, or doing work tasks that are easy & familiar rather than digging deep into the jobs that challenge you.

To have an awesomely productive day, my advice is to break the task that is causing you to procrastinate down into bite size chunks, face the fear and take baby steps to get it done.

4. Reward

If you are the type of person that works well when there is a reward upon completion then implement a system for yourself.  Whether it’s a food reward, a self care treat or a trip to the shops if you reach your goal; do what it takes to motivate yourself to get your tasks done.

5. Take a Break

If you’re feeling unmotivated and tired, my advice is not to work through it but to change things up a bit.  Sometimes we simply need a break. Doing some exercise, taking a walk around the garden, listening to a guided meditation, making a cup of herbal tea (or coffee!) can all be enough refresh and refocus.   5 or 10 minutes of doing something away from your desk will work wonders to get that motivated feeling back.

Hopefully these 5 ways to motivate yourself to have a productive day will help you have your best day every day.  Go working mumma, go get it done! If you have any other suggestions of what works for you; I’d love to hear them so drop a comment below.

Much love for now…
Nicola

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The Daily Win

If it’s true that winners are grinners then perhaps by turning ourselves into a winner every single day we can be grinning as well as feeling positive and having a heap of momentum in our business.  The daily win is one way to reward ourselves for all the effort we are putting in. A virtual pat on the back. Or a tick box of warm of fuzzies.

By celebrating a daily win, we are allowing ourselves to sit back and say congratulations on all that we have achieved.  Even if its something as simple as sending an email or getting a meal in the slow cooker before you sit down to work.

Having more than one daily win is fine too.  In fact, I try to celebrate 3 things that I’ve achieved in one day.  I keep it simple, the wins need to be achievable, otherwise it will have the opposite effect and I’ll feel like a failure for not making it.

Why is the daily win important? 

Being a home-based business owner and mum can mean we are working alone with no one to share our wins with or bounce ideas off.  We often have a to-do list as long as our leg because it’s not just business that needs taking care of. By celebrating the daily win, we are saying Yes to the Dress, or rather a big fat Yes to getting stuff done.

Celebrating the wins helps to keep a positive mindset, it brings a sense of achievement and ultimately it helps overall productivity.

Here’s a short guide to how The Daily Win can work for you.

1. Set Intentions

Personally I use a notebook and write down 3 things i’m grateful for every morning.  Coming from a place of gratitude will ensure a much more positive mindset. I then write down an intention for the day and why this intention is going to be good for me and my business. 

2. Set Tasks

To have a win, you first need to lay out your tasks.  I’m a keen user of Asana for my to-do lists. It allows me to list everything that needs to be done and has the all important tick box to show completion. 

 

3. Review

This is the part of the daily win that shouldn’t be missed. To give yourself the all important pat on the back, it’s necessary to review what has been achieved.  As a mum working in school hours, my days are jam packed with work so I prefer to do a little review once the kids are in bed. I take the time to see what has been completed, what still needs to be finished and what the intention and tasks will be for the following day.

 

4. Communicate The Wins

If a review doesn’t seem like enough of a celebration of your wins then look for an accountability partner or some way to communicate your wins out loud.  High fiving your hubbie is one way. Or find another female business owner who is also looking for a way to celebrate wins. We are social beings so its natural for us to want to shout about our achievements.

 

5. Reward

Do something that brings you pleasure and helps you to stay motivated for the next win.  This helps to program yourself to reach more goals. This can be as simple as sitting in the sun for 10 minutes at the end of a task or having a block of chocolate.

If you could use a little help with motivation and being productive, perhaps you could implement a system of celebrating a daily win into your work day.  Let me know how you go and what your system is, it’s always good to learn new ways of doing things.

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7 Ways to Have a Great Start to your Day

How do you start your day?  Did you know that the way you start your day can greatly impact how the rest of your day goes?

Most successful entrepreneurs and business leaders talk about having a strong morning routine.  I spent months thinking I was the exception to the rule and didn’t need a morning routine to have a great day.  

I told myself stories like; there isn’t enough time in the mornings, I’m too busy running around after the kids,  I can’t wake up early. This is all rubbish of course and since creating a routine for myself I can honestly say I’ve become a much more structured person and having a great morning definitely flows into the rest of the day.

So here are 7 ways that you too can have a great start to your day.

1. Get a good night’s sleep

Having a great day really starts the night before!  Getting to bed at a decent time and getting 7-8 hours sleep a night will make all the difference to how your day flows.  I also don’t watch TV late at night (no Netflix binging for me) and I charge my phone in the office so that it’s not in the bedroom as a distraction.  Watching blue screens before bed can affect how you sleep.

 

2. Wake up at the same time every day

Find your magic wake time.  Mine is 6.24am. As I said above, I have spent years telling myself I’m not a morning person.  Once I decided to kick start my morning routine, I knew I needed to get up earlier but I didn’t want to make it too early and unrealistic.  So 6.24am is my magic time. I have been waking at this time for a while now so it might be time to change it to 6.14am.

 

By the way, I am not one of those lucky people whose children sleep in.  My kids are often up before me at around 6am. I am fortunate however that they are old enough now (6, 9, 11) to look after themselves for a bit while I exercise (see below)

3.Exercise

Try to do some form of exercise every morning whether its walking the dog or a YouTube exercise video.  I go to the gym 2 mornings a week when my husband does the school drop off and on the other days I do yoga or skipping.  I LOVE the yoga. The stretching and breathing always sets me up for a great day ahead.

4. Be grateful

I keep a gratitude journal.  Every morning either after yoga or when I first sit down at my desk after the kids have gone to school, I write down 3 things that I’m grateful for.  Others find following Mel Robbins’s advice of setting an intention for the day really useful. You need to discover what will work best for you.

 

5. Meditate

Slowing down the mind is so good for you and a daily practice of meditation will help with feelings of overwhelm or stress.  Simply sitting and breathing for 10 minutes listening to a guided meditation will do wonders for your sense of self.

 

6. One House job

As a working mum it is always a struggle to get the house jobs done.  Since waking up earlier I have tried to do one house job in the morning so I can feel like the house is not being neglected.  It’s a great feeling to know that one house chore has been done and I can spend the rest of the day in the office without feeling guilty about all the other jobs..  It can be as simple as vacuuming or putting a load of washing on, clearing the kitchen bench of clutter or stripping the kids beds.  

 

7. No Social Media

My rule is no social media until the kids are out the door.  We all know that social media is a massive time waster. If you want to have a productive morning achieving some or all of the above then avoid socials.  Having my phone charging in the office helps me to achieve this. It is freeing to know that I don’t automatically reach for my phone the minute I wake up.  

 

Can you implement any of the above into your morning?  Do you think it will help you to have a great day? I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to pop a comment in the section below.

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Where Do You Rank on the Productivity Meter?

It seems everybody these days has been bitten by the busy bug.  Especially if you are a mum with a home based business. I imagine you are not only working but helping with family commitments, taking responsibility for the majority of child and household related activities, getting the kids to their various sports and after school clubs and more besides.  The mental load is real!!

But what can we do about it?

For a start, let’s stop wearing busy as a badge of honour and look at what we are doing in our daily lives to make us busy.

I believe we can be more productive and help our business and family lives work better together.

If running around in circles is an issue, take the quiz to see where you rank on the productivity meter.  Then we can see if you need some help with organisation.

More ways to connect with me:

I love to hang out on Instagram so we could be Insta friends.  My tag is @nicola_depiazzi, click to see useful content and productivity tips.

If Facebook is more your bag then why not drop into my free community – Women Doing Business AND Kids!  This is a supportive place for women in business to hang out and share in the craziness.

Find me on Pinterest too, click right here nicoladepiazzi