Are you bubbling over with ideas for the new year? What have you got on your list for the day you get back to work? This week we’ll look at how to get that stuff done in 2017.
Time off can be a wonderful thing for a small business owner. You get to sleep you get to meet up with friends, you get to have hobbies.
The Christmas holiday break is one of the most refreshing holidays. I take two weeks and that’s two weeks that I use to totally indulge myself. In food, in hobbies, in anything that isn’t business.
But something weird happens towards the end of week one. Once the Christmas festivities are out of the way and I’ve caught up on lost sleep the ideas start flooding in. There, invading my relaxation times are lots of tiny and large aspirations. Things I want to do, put straight before the new year comes. My mind, once unleashed on all things non-work related becomes hyper-motivated to make a start on the new year.
Perhaps this feeling is what sparks new years resolutions. There is a problem with this. When day one in the office finally arrives we’ve either forgotten all our resolutions or we’re sitting looking at a list of work that simply has to be done and our new ideas get pushed down the priority list.
This year it can be different. Getting your new year in gear is what we’re going to talk about in this week’s podcast.
Listen – How To Get Stuff Done In 2017
Capturing your ideas
Have you ever had a wonderful idea just as you were dropping off to sleep? In that moment, snug and comfortable in your bed you’ll try to convince yourself that you’ll remember it in the morning. You invent lots of ways that you’ll get your brain to tell you the next day.
You’ll fight with your half asleep brain until you get up and write it down, hopefully. If sleep wins out it could end up forgotten forever.
The same goes for the ideas that flood you over the holidays. If you are anything like me your head will be full of ideas that excite you.
Unless you wrangle the ideas as they come, you are in danger of losing them.
So stop reading now, grab something, a device a notebook and jot them down. I’ll wait.
Dealing with the volume of ideas
I remember when I was a kid I’d go OTT with my new year’s resolutions, I’d want to refresh everything, become a better person in every conceivable way the following year.
I’d want to eat healthier, get more exercise, cook more from scratch, expand my vocabulary, keep a diary, take more photos, learn how to… the list would go on and on. Having such a packed agenda meant I was setting my self up to fail.
It’s simply not that easy to change every aspect of your life in one big chunk.
I’ve stopped making resolutions like that but It’s easy to make the same mistake when it comes to business.
So now you have your list of ideas I don’t want you to go straight at them, at least not all of them at the same time.
Now you have a list of ideas it’s time to prioritise them. I use a spreadsheet for this.
Create a row for each idea and two columns for scoring them.
The first column is to score it on size. Give it a score between one and 5. 1 = a large time-consuming task 5 = a small task.
The second column is for how important it is for your business. 1 = tasks that will have the biggest positive impact. 5 = those that will have the least.
The tasks you need to do first are those with the biggest impact on your business. If you have a lot of large tasks in this category you’ll need to spread them out.
I recommend taking on one big task a month and prioritising these by which will have the biggest impact.
One of my new year tasks is to create a new page for my website advertising me as a conference speaker. It’s quite a big job, I need to get some landing page software, design graphics, get testimonials, write the copy. I’m giving that a 2 on scale. It will also have a significant impact on my business as one of my goals for 2017 is to get more speaking gigs so a 2 for importance too.
A second task is a home page redesign. The current one isn’t selling me or my services as well as it could. This scores 2 for scale and importance too.
If I tried to do both of these tasks at once at the beginning of January the chances are neither would be completed.
Instead, I’m scheduling the speaker page for January and the home page in for February.
Work through your big tasks allocating a month of the year for each one. For a really big job like a website redesign you may need to allocate more than one month.
Use a spreadsheet or a calendar to map these out. This will help you stay on track and you’ll start anticipating each task as you start a new month.
Breaking it down
Looking at a big task can be scary. Unless you break them down into simple achievable steps they often don’t get started.
Make a list of all the things that need to happen in order to get the task completed. Now allocate how long it’s going to take to complete each stage of the task.
I’m a devil for underestimating how long each stage will take so I tend to add some extra time on top of my initial estimate.
Dealing with smaller tasks
The small tasks that scored 5 on size can be gotten out of the way quite quickly. It can feel quite liberating to get a big bundle of them done at once.
I’d recommend getting some of these out of the way on your first day back in the office. Start the day with a step towards one of your big tasks and consider the small ones a treat for when you finish. Tackle them in order of priority, those you gave a score of 1 & 2 for importance should be done first.
Depending on the number of small tasks you have you could complete these within a month or less if you tackle 2 or 3 a day.
Add them to your calendar or spreadsheet next to the date you want to complete them. But be aware, these small tasks have a habit of multiplying, you’ll find yourself constantly adding to this list.
Mid-level tasks are those that scored 3-4 for size. You could aim to get one of these done every fortnight. Prioritise them according to importance and choose a day and time each week that you’ll devote to them. Add them to your calendar/spreadsheet.
You should now have your year mapped out for big tasks, your month mapped out for small tasks and a number of mid-level tasks scattered across your schedule.
Your weekly to-do list
We’re on to the final stages of your plan now. You’ve scheduled your tasks now it’s time to add them to a to-do list.
If you only have a daily to-do list it’s time to switch it up. Weekly and even monthly to-do lists can be far more effective. Seeing your week mapped out and knowing what needs to happen will help you stay on track or at least help you know how far behind you are.
Start by adding the work you do that makes you money into your weekly list. For me that’s client work, meetings, training days and course planning.
For you it could be the things you need to do for the day to day running of your business.
Now look at your daily and weekly tasks. This will include reading and responding to email, social media updates, researching and writing your blog post content, doing your book keeping. Add these tasks to your to do list.
The time left over is the time you have to work on your tasks. If possible allocate the same day and time each week to complete these. Remember, try and get the big tasks started first and then reward yourself with the small ones.
If you are still in holiday mode all you need to do for now is write down the ideas as they come. Before you go back to work map out your tasks following the method above. You’ll be surprised how many of your resolutions you fulfil as a result.
How To Win At Twitter
If Twitter is part of your 2017 strategy take a look at the course I’m running with Digital4Sales. In it I take you step by step through building a Twitter strategy that will drive results.
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