We get it, it’s exciting to take on all the new leads, but at what stage do you need to cap the workload in order to keep the quality in the service you have to offer?
We’ve listed 5 tips to planning a solid workflow for business owners struggling to stay on top.
1. Track your time
Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it? Though so many people don’t do it. When you track your time it gives you a realistic expectation on how long it takes you to do certain tasks. Sometimes you can get so stuck into what you’re doing that you’ve blown out 1, 2, 3 extra hours you didn’t account for. You’d be so surprised at how much valuable time some of these ‘simple tasks’ can suck from your day.
There are some great programs out there that you can use and track your jobs. We use Harvest in our studio and we find it fantastic for what we need it for. Each time a new job comes into the studio, we create a new project in Harvest and hit the timer when we work on that specific job. We then add a brief description so we know what tasks are taking up the most time. The best part, it has an app we can use across all of our devices.
There are other programs out there you can use, Toggl is another one. Though it can be as simple as hitting your phone timer and creating a manual timesheet. Just do a quick Google search and suss out your options, then find the one that works best for you. But, if you can’t be bothered to do that, we did it for you. Check out the article 7 Best Time Tracker Software Compared by codeinwp.
Another benefit to time tracking? Knowing how much time you actually spend on things so you can charge for it. Which brings us to our next tip…
2. Price yourself right
If you’re a one man/woman show, and you’re needing to take on say 30 jobs a month to bring in a stable income, it might be time to reassess your prices. For starters, if you’re getting 30 jobs a month you’re clearly sought after, so know that you’re worth it. It’s important to make sure you’re not jeopardising your quality for quantity. The last thing you need is to be rushing through jobs to get to the next one on the to-do list and not giving your clients the true attention they deserve (and have paid for).
By upping your prices, you can provide that financial stability you need for your business and then allocate the much needed time to spend servicing your clients. If your clients won’t pay more, it might be time to reposition and look for ones that will. Have a chat with your accountant and discuss your pricing strategy, that’s what they’re there for!
3. Create a damn good WIP
This one is golden. Having a WIP (work in progress) doc is super important. It helps to monitor the work you have going on in your business and seeing things from a top level perspective. Following on from the above tips, once you know how long things take to complete and how much cash money you need to make for the month, you can begin to understand when you’re at capacity.
Most of you will be aware of these programs but if you aren’t, we’ve listed 4 that help to monitor and track the progress of jobs: Monday, Trello, Asana, Airtable. If you can’t wrap your head around the interfaces, you can always use good ol’ fashioned MS Excel, which can do the same thing on a base level. These programs all differ and suit each person differently.
We’re personally big fans of Monday, (we were right into Airtable prior to that) it has completely changed up the way we work in our studio because it suits our needs. We can colour code categories, link boards, have internal discussions on each project to track the progress without always referring back to email and allocate a timeline. So, a simple overview shows us on the calendar if we’re close to capacity and when to move out our projects into the next month.
Most of the programs we’ve listed have both paid and free versions, try them all and see what works best for you.
4. Set realistic productivity times
Hard fact, you will never be 100% productive all of the time. WTF does that mean? Well, don’t book your week out to the exact time it takes you to complete a task. You need to factor in the times where you procrastinate, because guess what guys, shit happens. Some days you’re switched on and other days it takes you 20 minutes to figure out why you opened up a folder. Factor in these times, especially from a weekly/monthly perspective and you’ll always hit the deadline.
Too often we see people allocating the exact amount of hours it takes to complete a task in the week and completely book their week out. Only to find that one tiny little mishap screwed up the whole flow of the week and boom, deadlines are missed. If you know something is going to take you 4 hours, allocate 6. Then hell, if you are productive you’ll be ahead. This is why we limit the amount of meetings we have in a week and have created a booking system for calls. Did you know that following a distraction, it takes, on average, a full 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back into what you were doing? For more check out the article Distractions Are Hurting You More Than You Realize: Here’s Why.
Don’t set yourself up to fail, set yourself up to win!
5. Create a buffer
Just like we said above, you’re never 100% productive, so don’t book your week out like you will be. We always factor in a buffer day. That gives us time to focus on any work overflow or to attend to things we didn’t account for that came up. It personally also gives us creative time. Regardless of what industry you’re in, you always need time to just reset and think clearly, if you’re constantly buzzing and overthinking, you’ll never have time to think logistically and you make mistakes. Having this time also prevents burnout, imagine running your car on empty, what happens after a while? It stops. Think of your mind and body the same way, don’t overwork yourself and you’ll find yourself being more productive, producing better work and actually enjoying it!
Sounds simple right? That’s because it is. Like we always say; fail to plan, plan to fail. Having good systems and processes in place help to prevent overwhelm and provide you with good clarity. Each month we allocate a number of jobs, then we plan them over the month in order of their size and priority. This helps us then to plan our weeks and days effectively and efficiently. We use all of the above day in day out and it has been a game changer for us, so we hope we can help you too!
If you have any questions or want to know more, click here and get in touch. Or check out the services page to see what’s on offer. Alternatively, head over and follow us on Instagram and see what’s happening with us daily!