Simplify Your Office, Simplify Your Life

simplify your office, simplify your life and businessWhen I moved last year, one of the key things that I wanted to do was make sure I had an absolute minimum amount of paperwork around me. And because I was moving I wanted everything to be simple and streamlined.

But you don’t have to be moving to make life easier for you in your office.

There are lots of ways you can simplify things.

Clear the clutter

In practical terms, clearing the clutter is a great start. Not only do you not have things lying around everywhere, you improve the energy flow around your environment which can only help creativity and productivity.
So it’s worth sorting out all your stuff, throw away things you don’t need and only keep what is necessary. Clear your desk, your cupboards and your drawers.

Go digital

And get your paperwork scanned. We live in a digital age and now you can keep everything on a miniscule disc. Or if you’re like me in the Cloud where you can access it from anywhere.

One caveat here, you do have to organise it at the beginning to make life simple. So ensure files are scanned together and in order, and then stored in similarly labelled folders online. Then you can always find things.

And going forward just periodically scan and file any new paperwork that comes in, and shred the originals. It defeats the object of you keep paper and digital copies.

Cloud storage

I highly recommend getting a full Cloud storage solution which also runs backups. That way you don’t have to remember to back up – a major improvement, and your backup is not in the same building, also good security. You can access your documents from anywhere with any computer, or most smart phones. And in the event your computer crashes you have everything there, ready to reinstall at the press of a button. This has happened to me and it really is a lifesaver.

Create a routine

On a personal level it’s also great to have a routine, that way you don’t waste time deciding what to do or jumping from one thing to the next, for example some people have admin days on Friday, or maybe you write first thing and check emails at lunchtime. Keep it standard and only do things in the right slot, then you don’t get distracted. It helps you focus too.

What else can you do to make things simple?

Get someone else to do it

Well you can also outsource some of your work, have someone else deal with all the admin or accounts for example, or perhaps your social media.

Minimise Mail

You can also get your mail handled by someone else. Either a secretarial service which will open it and either forward or deal with it directly, or use mailing house and just get mail sent once a week, so you are not dealing with bits and pieces daily.

Fewer Phones

Do you have more than one phone? perhaps it time to go down to one, or have a dual SIM phone so you can still keep two numbers. Or you can use virtual numbers such as Skype In numbers. You can have a geographical number in nearly any country and people call that but it comes through on your Skype, or you can forward it wherever you want.
Or alternatively you could use a call answering service to take all your initial calls, that way you only deal with the important ones.

You can think of more ….

These are just a few ideas to help you start to streamline and simplify your office and your working. I’m sure you can think of plenty more, please do add any thoughts in the comments.

Just think about this question, and see how you can make changes.

What takes up a lot of your time and energy and how can you turn that around?

If you are looking for some support in moving forward or finding more time to get everything done, why not book a call with Julia to chat about it?

First published on the Authentic Edge Blog

Overwhelming Being A Female Entrepreneur

Overwhelm and female Entrepreneurs - Julia McdaidI wondered “can I write a whole blog about overwhelm? Really?”.
Truth be told I think I can, and then some. It is widespread in the entrepreneur world. And I particularly see it as I work mainly with female entrepreneurs, and for some reason overwhelm seems to plague them more than most.

It is usually the biggest cause of not getting things done. Do you find that? You have so many things to do you don’t know where to start. You are almost certainly in overwhelm, all the tasks become too much, and you can’t see the wood for the trees. So you fiddle about, do a bit here and a bit there, but not really with any focus.

Why does it happen?

Usually the reason you fall into overwhelm is that you are trying to do everything yourself. Sometimes there is just too much to do and other times it just feels that way because you are doing it all. As a woman it is typical that you are trying to do everything and look after everyone and everything.

And that I think is where we fall over. The focus goes, no focus, no planning, just a busy head and a busy desk and not a whole lot of productivity. Or of course you may spend all your time planning, and none actually doing, it can be an avoidance tactic!

And being an entrepreneur its likely you are also an ideas person too, so you are always having new ideas and thinking if new ways to do things or new things to try or people to call or connect with, the list is endless.

Is confidence a factor?

I think sometimes another cause of overwhelm , or at least a contributor is lack of confidence, or lack of belief. Sometimes we know what needs doing but we are scared to do it, or scared of what might happen if we do, so we put it off. And the more we put it off the scarier it becomes, and the more our to do list accumulates, until we get really caught up in the “must do”,” have to”, “need to do” etc.

So what is the answer?

How do you step out of it and move forward more effectively?

Well, I am a great believer in lists, and notebooks. Often the problem is that you have too much going round in your head, so if you can get it all out that lets you think more clearly.

Use “to do” lists for all the things you think of that need doing, and use a notebook to capture all those ideas. Once its written down you know you have a record so you can let it go until you have time to develop it further.
The same with lists, write it all down so it’s out of your head. Then each day sort out the list and the priorities to create a “to do” list for that day with all the most important things.

You can still keep the main list with all the other things as a reminder, and to create lists for the following days.

Look after yourself

And it is important to ensure you are fit and healthy too, make sure you look after number one. If you don’t you will end up exhausted and possibly ill, I have seen it happen and its not fun, so please take this seriously. It’s common for female entrepreneurs especially to leave their health on the back burner, I think it’s our caring instinct.

Little things like taking regular breaks, eating properly – and regularly, and taking daily exercise can all help you to feel calmer and more focused, as well as making you stronger to deal with everything else.

Don’t go it alone

Another way to make your life easier is to identify the things you can outsource and get help. I know this can be hard to do, especially when you are used to doing everything. And also budget is often a constraint here. Its so easy to believe its all cost and so you might as well just do it. But the real cost is to your time, and not having that time to do the more important things. Your role in your business really is one of managing, creating and maybe customer facing. Things that are not your strengths or not fun for you can and should be delegated to someone who can do it for you. This frees up so much time and brain space, which really helps you to do the important stuff.

So in summary, to get out of the overwhelm trap, look after yourself, tighten up your time management and prioritising, learn to say no, delegate things other people can do.

And if you are finding tough and would like some support, or some ideas and guidance, do get in touch with me and lets chat about it.
Schedule a call with Julia

When Asking For Help Is Hard…..

asking for help can be hard in business. Julia McdaidIt’s one of the things about being a solopreneur, and even more so if you are single as well, you are on your own. Not only are you running your business you are also entirely responsible for keeping a roof over your head, food on the table and all of your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.

Now I know you may argue that we all are, and I do agree, it’s just that when there is nobody else there at all it can feel very hard sometimes. It’s something I have seen and heard a lot with women entrepreneurs.

As women we are used to helping others, its instinctive, but what about those times when you feel overwhelmed, or down and you don’t know which way to turn?

What do you do when you know you want to reach out and you don’t know who to call? And what do you do when it seems the only way to get help is to pay for it and you don’t have any budget for that, especially of you are in the early days of your business?

Because asking for help, showing vulnerability can be a very scary thing.

At the same time I’d say we all know the value of working with others and the benefits it can have for a business owner, and at least in theory we know we work better with support.

Help may be support in moving forward and growing your business, maybe with a coach or mentor, or a buddy you work with, or it may be of a more practical nature where you are delegating out some of your tasks. It may be appropriate for you to do both, in the long term it almost certainly will.

For some its easy, they have a support network in place and know exactly where to go. For others its harder, they recognise the need to reach out and don’t feel anyone in their circle is the right person to reach to. They may not be confident in who to ask. It’s hard, you are used to working alone, and as I said earlier if you are single it’s even harder, yet that’s most likely when you most need the support.

Having the awareness to know it’s time to reach out is a great place to be, its a big thing to get that level of self knowledge.

To then take that last step and ask for help often feels very hard though. We fear sharing our vulnerable side yet actually it’s an attractive quality and a strength. How often have you found yourself drawn to someone who is totally open and honest.

I know friends who have reached out on Social media and have received an amazing response, they were publicly vulnerable and support came. And if you have a private social media profile where you know all your contacts then maybe its a way you could go to reach out, I know some people prefer to just put it put there and let serendipity take care of finding the right person.

And if that not for you, and it won’t be for all I know, ask your inner guidance for help, for pointers about where to turn. Or ask a friend for a recommendation for the kind of help you need.

Its not uncommon to feel stuck and nervous when it comes to asking for help. In reality you know that if you don’t get help you are likely to end up in a bit of a rut and may even become anxious and stressed, or overwhelm kicks in and overtakes you. When you have reached the point where you know help would be good, you know that if you reach out you will move forward more quickly.

And it’s worth building up a support network so that you have people you know and trust around you. Then when you need to call in help it will become obvious who to turn to.

Tips to Shift Procrastination

Do it now! Beat procrastinationAs promised following on from the last blog here are a few tips to help beat procrastination for those who have tendencies towards it.

In terms of planning for your business ask yourself a question like “What can I, and only I, do which will give superior results?”

Make a list of these things – these are the things you should concentrate on.

These are going to be the activities that are referred to as ‘working ON your business’, i.e. strategic business activities that help to create that brighter future, as opposed to ‘working IN your business’, i.e. the day-to-day activities necessary to get the job done.

Here are a few ideas to shift your focus.

  • Have a big focus.
    Its always worth having a big vision and keeping it in mind

  • Use tools like vision boards and screensavers to keep your big vision in mind

  • Always consider whether things will move you towards your end goal

  • Only do what is relevant

  • Delegate what you don’t enjoy

  • Delegate things which are not best use of your time

  • Employ a cleaner, and a gardener if relevant to you

  • Learn to say no!

  • However you feel, just start – its amazing how effective this is

  • Break things down into small actions

  • Reward yourself for completing things

  • Use a timer, decide to work for an hour on a certain thing, then take a break

  • Plan your work

  • Set aside times when you can not be interupted
    This is by no means a comprehensive list and I’m sure you can add many more suggestions. At the end of the day its about finding what works for you. And remember, often the most important things in our lives are not the most urgent.

    Are You Sacrificing Down Time For Housework?

    Give yourself more free time, delegate the houseworkSomething that is on my list of things that bug me, is how busy professional people deny themselves any “me time”

    I watch friends and colleagues rushing around all week, then they get home at the weekend and what do they do? Housework, DIY, gardening. And before they know it its Monday again, and they have had no downtime at all.

    And then they complain about having no time….

    I have one thing to say to you

    Get a cleaner! (and a gardener if it applies)

    They need the work, you need the time, for a few $/€/£ a week you can have all the little jobs done and give (buy) yourself some free time.

    Unless it is your hobby and you really enjoy it, why waste your precious time on things you’d rather not do? How much is your time worth?

    And if you choose to, don’t complain you have no spare time….. 😉

    Delegating When It All Feels Overwhelming

    When you start your business it may well be just you, or you may start with staff straight away. But even if it is just you, sorting out what needs to be done and who is going to do it will still be something you need to do.

    Its always good to delegate the things you're not best atWhilst it may be essential initially, it is unlikely that you will be either able or willing to do everything yourself as your business grows. Bear in mind why you started in business in the first place. I doubt it was to give yourself a job with an eighty hour week?

    As the business owner you have to have time to do the things that are essential to developing and growing your business. That means the planning and thinking and strategic stuff.
    Leaders should only do what only they can do. Sir John Harvey-Jones

    As you try and free up time to do these things, think about what is taking up your time. Is it things that you have to do, or could somebody else do them? What is your time worth? How many orders do you lose if you spend time doing tasks that someone else could be doing at half the cost?

    Even if you don’t have staff you can still get other people to help. You can sub-contract or outsource some of the work. This may be part of the production or service delivery, or it may be administrative tasks like your book keeping and telephone answering.

    You might use other companies, individuals or “virtual” resources. For example it is becoming quite common for small business owners to use a virtual PA, who can deal with your telephone calls and administration even though they are not based at your office.

    There are also things that can be done via the internet, for example you can automate your IT backups, so that they happen automatically, and your data is off site.

    But also you might outsource some of the areas in your business that we have already looked at, such as your marketing or PR.

    So if you think there is too much for one person to do, remember – there is always a way……….

    The above is taken from Julia’s book Start Up 101