20 Ways to Simplify Your Business Life
Last weekend I read an article in the newspaper “20 ways to simplify your life” written to help busy wives and mothers reduce their stress by simplifying their lives.
I thought a similar article aimed at business people and managers would be a good idea too.
There are some people in business, management and life, who are always desperately busy and running from crisis to crisis. Urgent job to more urgent job! Long working days and even weekends!
Then there are others who are always relaxed and can take time out for golf or a long lunch, or go on holiday and yet still have everything under control.
In my experience the relaxed group are the more successful and became successful because they were organised. Not as a result of working themselves to death.
If this is you, then give yourself a 15 minute break to read this article now.
So, based on my own experience and observations as well as various books read over many years, here are 20 ways that I think will help you to simplify your business / working life and which I hope will help you to be more relaxed and successful.
They are in alphabetical order so you can read them all and decide which ones are important for you.
- BIG PICTURE NOT SMALL PROBLEMS
When you are up to your waist in crocodiles, it’s difficult to remember your original plan to drain the swamp! So if you are surrounded by immediate problem crocodiles, step outside them for a while and focus on your original plans and objectives. See those problems and setbacks as just small traffic holdups on the big highway leading to your planned destination. Compare them to your life, your family and friends and put them into perspective. Successful people don’t let little things get them down.
- BUDGETS AND PLANNING
If you don’t set realistic plans and goals for the future of your business and budgets so that you keep control over progress during the year, you will be stressed and flying by the seat of your pants every day. If you have, then you will be able to relax most of the time, monitor the results and take action to correct things only if they go wrong. You don’t even have to be there to do that.
- CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN – DON’T STRESS ABOUT THE REST
There is a prayer that sums this up perfectly.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Pretty smart isn’t it! Start by accepting that some things in business are like the wind, beyond your control, but by setting your sails right you can use the wind to sail anywhere you want. Spend some time working out the direction of the winds that affect your business and how you can adjust what you do to take advantage of them.
- CONTROL YOUR COMMUNICATION
When you are the boss or the owner of a business whatever you want done gets done right now, even at the expense of customer service, sales or profits. So if the things you want done are not urgent or life threatening it is better to save them for a weekly meeting with your staff and allow them to incorporate your requests into their regular work schedules.
- DECISIONS DOWN THE LINE
Save yourself heaps of time by passing the responsibility for some decisions as far down to the frontline as possible. All you have to do is set some guidelines, dollar limits and monitor the results to make sure they are doing the right thing. Employees value the responsibility they are given and will in the main be as careful with your money as you are.
- DE-CLUTTER YOUR DESK AND YOUR LIFE
If everything about your job or your business is starting to get on top of you, then start the process of change by tidying your desk. Make a pile of the things you have to do now in priority order and file away the others. If they are not important enough to need immediate action, they are not worth stressing about.
- DELEGATE (THE BIG ONE)
If you have employees ask yourself whether you are using them as well as you could to relieve you of some of your regular tasks that take up your time. Most people have the capacity to do more and many welcome the opportunity to handle new tasks. Make a list of your regular tasks and how long they take and decide who could do them for you.
If you are a small business with no one to delegate to, try delegating some of your work to other organisations. For example bookkeeping, accounting, invoicing, sales, marketing, taking phone calls, calling customers etc. These specialist experts will do the job better than you in half the time, while you focus on running the business.
- FEEDBACK FOR STAFF
Feedback is the breakfast of Champions!
If you want staff that manage themselves and make life easy for you, they have to know when they are doing what you want. So you have to tell them what has pleased you and what they need to do to make you happier. Get them to measure real results and show them that you are interested. That is feedback! Focus on the positive and soon you will have a self motivated team that gets the job done without needing your involvement.
- KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI’s)
Don’t manage your business by “gut feel”. Set up benchmarks for performance that will let you know whether your business and employees are performing up to expectations. If they are then you don’t need to do anything! If they are not then you need to find out why and correct the problem. If they are doing better than expected then you need to know why so that you can keep it going. Delegate the setting up of KPI’s for each job and the reporting of results by setting it as a task for the employees concerned. All you have to do is monitor the results.
- KEEP A DIARY
I have kept a page a day diary for most of my business life, which has the tasks allocated for the day and scheduled for action at particular times of the day. A written diary works better for me than an electronic one. Having a task related diary is the critical thing and prioritising the tasks so you have no doubts which to complete first. If you do not use a written or electronic diary now you will be amazed how easy it becomes and how simple it makes your daily life.
Meetings can either be huge timewasters or fantastic time savers. It depends how you organise them. Where you have a group of managers or supervisors reporting to you each with a different area of responsibility, having a regular short meeting with each where you review their key performance indicators and projects they are handling, is an efficient way to keep your hand on the wheel without doing the work. If you also make it a rule to cover other subjects only during the meeting. Don’t let them come to you with ideas or problems at any other time unless they are life threatening and do the same yourself. Just make a note of what you want to discuss and keep it in the employee’s file as a reminder. I have developed a standard weekly report template that you can get your managers / supervisors to use. Just contact me and I will send it out to you.
If you want self motivated staff, remember that pats on the back work better than kicks in the butt. When you have motivated staff you win.
It’s a fairly good rule that most goals will take longer to achieve than you or your employees expect. So you have to be patient and realistic and expect unexpected delays. Don’t be impatient and don’t give up!
- PERSONAL ASSISTANT
Over the years I have seen the best investment for a self employed business person has been the employment of a good P.A. They take a pile of the regular admin work off the business owner’s shoulders and give them time to focus on the money making tasks they do best.
- PERSONAL PLEASURE
If you don’t put time for your personal pleasure in your weekly action plan it will never happen. If you promise yourself that you will take time out for yourself as soon as the rush is over, or when you reach $2m turnover, forget it! You already work hard so give yourself the rewards now. As soon as you do that your own motivation will be better and you will achieve more. Try it – what have you got to lose?
Put your list of tasks for the day and the week into priority order and tackle them one at a time. Schedule phone calls for the first hour of the day – in and out and have messages taken outside that time so that you can phone back when it suits you. An efficient colleague of mine makes a point of handling the worst phone calls first to get them over with, so he can enjoy the rest of the day without them haunting him.
- RELEVANT INFORMATION ONLY
Most people in business have too much irrelevant information to deal with and as a result miss what is important for their business or industry. Set aside two hours once a week, or once a month when you review all, the trade and industry magazines and newsletters, decide what is useful information and throw away the rest. Make a point of NOT looking at any of it until that time.
- RESPONSIBILITY NOT TASKS
If you keep on handing out orders and tasks to employees you will have the problem of controlling what happens and following up to make sure they happen. This is hard work.
If you delegate the “responsibility” for making things happen, then they have to worry about how to do it, not you. They may even do it better that you were able to. All you are concerned about is that they produce the results you want.
- SAY “NO”
You can keep things simple in your life and business by saying “NO”. Just because there is a new product some customers may be interested in buying does not mean you have to provide it. Most “opportunities” for new business will complicate the business you have now and you will end up with only 20% of your products accounting for 80% of your sales.
- WHAT’S IMPORTANT REALLY!
If you were told you only had a short time left to live, you would pretty soon get your priorities in order. And the first one would not be to spend more time at work. So, have a think about the things that do matter like friends and family and the other things that give you pleasure and start enjoying them now.
So relax and start chilling out – with a bit of organisation you too can enjoy a successful business and personal life. Life is not an emergency and sometimes doing things slower and more deliberately gets them done quicker and better in the long run.