In my last blog I talked about the 4 types of tasks you should ditch, decrease or delegate to help you create more time in your day for the things you love (whether work or play). Maybe this seems like a fantasy, but it is possible. So, this week I wanted to share some practical tips that will not only help you to decrease the amount of time you spend on those tasks that are sapping your time and energy, but they'll even make delegation much easier.
Since one of my lessons from last year was that it is wise not to try and do everything myself, I decided to ask an expert. And there’s no one better than Maria Watson, who is known as The Details Director for a good reason. Processes are basically her “superpower” and she loves helping business owners to create systems, processes and order in their business. Today Maria is sharing three simple automations that you can set up today to decrease your workload and free up your time and head space.
Before she starts, I have a note for the self-confessed “tech-phobes” out there – technology doesn’t have to be scary! In fact, Maria is fab at taking the fear out of technology, so read on with an open mind and think of technology as your friend. Now, over to Maria…
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When you think of automations, you might think that sounds complicated, or even scary, but it doesn’t have to be. Once set up, an automation will feel like a godsend, with some jobs taking just a fraction of the time they did before. Here are my top 3!
If you’re often in meetings and booking calls with clients, you need this.
No more to-ing and fro-ing with “I’m free from 3pm until 5pm but I could do 12pm” then 17 days later you still haven’t booked the appointment!
Instead, simply send your client, your prospect or your business bestie a link to your calendar so they can see when you are free and can book a mutually convenient time to speak to you. It’s like magic!
Most scheduling systems are simple to set up (think step-by-step guides and videos). They also link up to your current online calendar, for example Google or iCal, so that you can control when you are free for meetings in ‘real time’.
I can honestly say if I was working with a client and I had to pick only one system to that I thought would have the biggest impact on their overall efficiency and time… this would be it.
Do you have repeating tasks and appointments in your business (and life)? Then you need a task management system.
Why is it so important?
As a business owner, you’re often working on lots of different projects which are competing for your time and attention. Add to that all the ideas you probably have and the home stuff, and your brain can get very full, very quickly.
Within about 5 minutes of waking you’ve probably thought of zillion things you need to do that day so it’s not surprising that things slip through the net and balls get dropped. As a business owner this isn’t a good place to be.
A task system stores all the things that you must remember to do and alerts you as and when you need to do them so that nothing gets forgotten – halleluiah!!
You pop the tasks into the system and tell it when and how often you need to do them and **poof** it appears on your to-do list when it needs to be done.
And the beauty of a task system is that you can start it small and grow it with your business.
Here’s a quick step-by step you can use to get started….
This alone will sky rocket your efficiency and save you tons of time doing things at the last minute or having a melt-down when something doesn’t get done at all.
So far so good yeah?
But wait, it gets even better….
And you can do it all a bit at a time.
Try a few systems, find one you like and start small. Get used to using the system and keep adding, tweaking and testing so that it works for YOU.
You will be amazed that you ever lived without it.
If a lot of your time (or your team's time) is spent in the inbox dealing with the same customer enquiries over and over OR you have processes which involve communicating the same information to your clients (such as client onboarding) then canned responses can be a godsend.
Canned response are pre-written responses to similar questions.
You write the email and once it is saved as a canned response, it is ready to grab and re-use each time that question is asked.
It will give you peace of mind knowing the ‘tone’ of your email responses are in line with your business brand and ethos and you don’t have to spend time pondering your responses. Furthermore, you don’t have to be the one responding to the emails, you can outsource this job and know that your clients are still getting brilliant and consistent support.
How does Customer Support Software Work?
Customer support software turns your inbox into a customer help desk. An email comes in and is assigned a ticket. You log on a couple of times a day and deal with each ticket (you can save canned responses within the software), close it and it’s stored away. If you need someone else to deal with it you can assign it to them and they’ll get a notification. You only ever have on-going ‘cases; in your inbox. If a customer emails in more than once the whole history of communication appears which jogs your memory and allows you to add personal touches to your reply… “Hi Jenny, how are the yoga classes going?”.
This ‘help desk’ takes the ‘noise’ out of your inbox, creates an amazing experience for your customer and a simple and efficient process for you and your team.
4 Easy Steps for Creating Canned Responses
There are loads of other things you could automate of course, but this is where I recommend you start. But remember... you don't have to do it all at once! Start with what’s easiest or most important for you, then layer in additional automations one at a time. If you get stuck, I’m always here to help at thedetailsdirector.com.
I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for reading. I can't wait to read your comments below.
What do you automate to free up your time? Or what have you been meaning to automate but put off (and why)? We'd love to hear from you, especially if you try any of Maria's tips above. So please share your tips, tricks and insights in the comments box below.
Maria Watson, aka The Details Director, helps business owners like you to create systems, processes and order in your business. Her mission is to help you to feel in control and eliminate overwhelm so that you can focus on the work you do best and love most. You can find her at thedetailsdirector.com