Dialing in your Workday

When it comes to working from home, and living the entrepreneur lifestyle there are some definite advantages, as well as certain pitfalls that come with the territory. It’s been said that you can’t manage what you don’t measure, and that has never been truer than it is for our particular industry.

When it comes to productivity, busy isn’t always better, it’s just busier! For most of us the end result that matters is an increase in cash flow and that is typically how we grow our businesses and take them to the next level.

The First Step:

The first thing to do is figure out exactly how you’re spending your days. Trust me, it’s doubtful that you really have a clear picture unless you’ve already gone through this, or a similar exercise already. To get a really clear picture you should probably track your activities for at least a couple of weeks as routines can vary, but the longer timeline will give you the clearest picture.

If you use a notebook or day planner to keep track of your “to do’s” then for the next two weeks simply write down the start and end times for each activity. You can choose to compile the hours/minutes spent at the end of each day, or at the end of your two week period.

The Second Step:

Next, you’ll need to figure out where each of your typical daily tasks falls into as far as general categories. Each of us will have different businesses so this might reflect differently for each of us. Here are my general categories that hold my daily activities.

  • Delivery and Income – Anything that drives revenue, or adds to existing customer products.
  • Content Creation – This is the free content you create to drive traffic so you can convert them to customers or clients within your business.
  • Traffic & SEO – Anything related to driving traffic using both paid – PPC, or free – SEO, to your websites.
  • Community & Engagement – Growing or managing social profiles, comments etc. Basically building your online community.
  • Education & Training – It pays to stay at the top of your game, and investing in yourself is one of those things you need to continue throughout your lifetime. Courses, books, blog posts read, etc. all fall into this category.
  • Misc. Business – These are the tasks we all need to do on a regular basis to keep things running smoothly. Checking email, bookkeeping, setting goals, talking to clients, etc. Typically if you aren’t careful this category can end up taking way more time that you should let it. I’ll give you my personal breakdown targets below, but you’ll need to analyze your own business and where you are with it to decide what percentage of your valuable time should be allocated to it in order to maximize growth where it’s needed.
  • Supportive Actions – Now there are always things that don’t really fall into business categories per se, but that still contribute in some way towards our growth. I typically put things like working out, website maintenance, renovating the workplace, etc.

Now these are just my own personal categories and they may or may not fit your needs, but if they do, feel free to use them as you like or simply as a place to start. (I believe most documents should be fluid in nature and change as things progress)

I track my productivity using David Risley’s Point System (assigning arbitrary values to tasks and tracking your productivity over time using graphs) Google docs is a great place to keep this data and once you’ve set up your monthly system you can adjust your category percentages (using time or points as you like) each month to ensure you’re focusing on what’s important now for you.

My personal targets for March 2014 are:

  • Delivery & Income: 30%
  • Content Creation: 20%
  • Traffic & SEO: 5%
  • Community & Engagement: 20%
  • Education & Training: 20%
  • Misc. Business: 10%
  • Supportive Actions: 5%

Should a certain aspect of my business start to suffer, I can quickly adjust where my time is being spent and modify these values for as many months needed in order to bring up my lagging component.

The Third Step:

Now that you have a clearer idea of where and how your valuable time is being spent you might want to create a document outlining those tasks so you’ve got something to follow that fits the percentages you’ve established for yourself. You might call it your “Daily tasks for profitability plan”.

I know for myself when I first started this exercise I was surprised at how my days were unfolding. Despite being super busy I wasn’t getting the results I expected from myself and as it turns out it’s because I was spending way too much time doing things within my business that didn’t grow or develop it further.

Like all things change is never fun in the beginning but the results will speak for themselves as you start focusing your attention on the components within your business that actually matter the most!