How to get more time and focus
Helping people get focused and organised to work more efficiently is my thing.
When a client – let’s call them Charlotte – didn’t have enough time to get things done or keep on top of tasks, I was keen to learn about her business and challenges.
Charlotte is an energetic, people person who runs a training company. She has two members of staff, as well as a number of contract trainers who coach students. Everyone works remotely. She has an online task manager she didn’t use, lots of notes in a notepad and so-many-ideas on Post Its everywhere.
What were the challenges
Charlotte and her team weren’t productive and efficient as they wanted to be:
- Everyone was really busy throughout the week and had little to no white space in their calendars. This affected their energy levels and motivation for starting anything new.
- There was no time take a break or go out for a walk.
- Meetings always overran which created more problems getting things done.
- Some procedures and processes weren’t working and needed sorting out.
- There was frustration, anxiety and guilt if Charlotte took time to work on the business (on development) instead of in the business (on customers).
- There was never enough time to get everything done and some important tasks were being missed.
What could be better
After some discussion, we figured out what Charlotte’s objectives were:
- Keep on top of tasks and adding all of them into a trusted system
- Keep on top of email and eliminating any unnecessary messages to and from the team
- Manage projects more efficiently so there’s more time to get work done
- Improve communications internally (with trainers) and externally (students) so there are fewer meetings
- Have clear processes in place for onboarding students.
What were the improvements
I worked with Charlotte to create a BMS (business management system) that housed all the team’s areas for goals, tasks, projects, inbox, meetings, messaging, trainers, ideation, students, processes and resources.
There are many useful and time- and effort-saving things about this system:
- Everything is online, browser and app based so Charlotte and team can access it anywhere.
- A catch-all Inbox was created to capture every task from every bit of paper, so nothing was ever lost on Post Its ever again.
- A robust task and project management area, with scheduling, status, priorities, dates, responsibility, notes and comments, created accountability for everyone.
- Charlotte’s whole team use the business management system to work in and communicate with each other, which meant a lot less email in boxes.
- Each team member…
- can view project, date, team or individual priorities, so they know what they have to do and by when.
- has their own private area to gather ideas, write content, create tasks, schedules for themselves.
- Trainer and student areas were embedded with training videos, so everyone stayed focused and didn’t get lost in a YouTube hole.
- Student areas with individual and group areas provided onboarding docs and links to collateral.
- Many areas of the business connect to each other so there’s no duplication of documentation or effort, e.g. the inbox and tasks linked with projects, idea suggestions linked to regular meetings, and the processes with trainers and students.
What were the results
Things were running more smoothly for Charlotte and her team:
- Having a task and project management system helped make more space in their calendars.
- Fewer and timelier meetings because a shared schedule and improved internal comms meant more time.
- Fewer emails flying around within the team meant conversations were all in one place in the system.
- Because of the time savings, Charlotte has more time to work on business development without feeling guilty.
- There’s more time to get outdoors for a daily walk to refresh and reset.
- Analysing and updating processes in detail freed up time to prioritise what’s important and what’s urgent.
Charlotte and her team didn’t have enough time to breathe, so missed tasks and existing procedures weren’t sufficient to aid them.
Developing a connected business management system helped claw back a lot of time that everyone needed.
Charlotte’s pie-in-the-sky goal was to work a 4-day week, but it’s now becoming a reality.