Being self-employed can be a dream come true at times, but it can also turn into a bit of a nightmare.
Keeping a record of your finances, taking care of repetitive but necessary administrative tasks, working long hours around the clock and dealing with clients & customers can become tiring & stressful.
Chances are, you’ve become so busy, you don’t have the time to investigate new ways of working and easiest ways to operate. Not to worry, we’ve consolidated some great ways to streamline your workflow and work smarter to be more productive in less time.
Some of these tips may seem obvious, but chances are, many business owners are still not taking advantage of them!
Mobile apps can help you work much more easily when you’re on the move. They can also to work more efficiently, when synced up to your desktop computer.
For example, the free version of Google Drive is quite literally a pioneering app and piece of software for collaborating on work.
The fact that you can save your work to Google’s drive (basically a version of ‘the cloud) and access it anywhere in the world with an internet connection can make your working life substantially easier.
A social media management app is also a must for most business owners. Buffer is a great social media app that allows you to share links and content with a few clicks. You can click to share a page for example and then simply click “Add to Queue” to schedule your posts on different social media platforms.
Docusign is also an app that can save you a substantial amount of time when it comes to chasing signatures from vendors, clients and even employees. Being able to sign documents via a phone makes the whole process easier for everyone and you can easily email everything back to yourself at the office.
Depending on your job – reading can take up a large proportion of your time and working day. If this is the case, then speed reading could save you many hours per week.
The general method being speed-reading, is reading lines and paragraphs, rather than individual words. This way you take in a similar amount of information, in a third of the time.
The first tip to get started with speed-reading is to soften your gaze. Try and expand what you focus on so that you can take in a line at a time of information, rather than reading word by word.
You will also have to stop ‘sub-vocalising’ each individual word, whilst using some kind of a ‘pointer’. The pointer could be your finger, or it could be your cursor if you are reading online content. If it helps, you can highlight lines as you drag down the text selected. The pointer method works because our eyes are naturally drawn to anything that moves – a phenomenon known as “Smooth Pursuit Movements”.
A final way to improve your reading speed is to add audio at a fast pace. There are extensions that you can add to Google Chrome or Firefox for example, which will read the text on a given webpage for you. You can follow along with the pointer method at a surprisingly fast rate.
You can hire virtual assistants that are local to you, or on the other side of the world. Both come with specific advantages and disadvantages – particularly in reference to the amount paid per hour or per project.
Virtual assistants are often used for the more repetitive and mundane tasks such as data entry and filtering out unwanted emails, however, virtual assistants can be incredibly helpful when it comes to some of the more annoying tasks such as chasing invoices.
Many people will be happy to share their accounting software with a long-standing & trusted assistant, this way the assistant can automatically chase payments without having to be prompted. Virtual assistants are also great for carrying out online research. For example, you could ask an assistant to go through all the competitor’s reviews on Amazon to see if there is any pattern in terms of the negative and positive feedback – which you could then capitalise on in your product design.
Hate putting presentations together? Assistants can be put to work amalgamating information and putting in into a Powerpoint template for you.
Phone Answering Service
Using a telephone answering service from the likes of Moneypenny or Workwithme can be a highly effective way to enhance your productivity and to significantly reduce your stress levels too. By using a virtual receptionist you can enjoy all the benefits of a full time hire, without the full time wages and legal paperwork.
There are several major advantages to having a virtual receptionist. Firstly, you can greatly reduce the number of interruptions you get per day, allowing you to focus on the work at hand, instead of answering the phone every 20 minutes. With a 24/7 receptionist service, you can also completely relax at the end of a busy working day, without being interrupted by non-urgent business calls late in the day.
Finally, the fact that some answering service packages will give you a dedicated receptionist who will know your business well enough to pass as a full time receptionist – it can make you appear like a much bigger, perhaps even more professional and well established company.
Check Emails Sparingly and use Boomerang
A tip from Tim Ferris, is to check your emails sparingly and schedule your replies with a Gmail extension such as Boomerang.
Depending on your type of business, you can get away with only checking your emails once or twice a day, instead of being stuck on the perpetual treadmill of answering them in a futile attempt to clear your inbox.