When it comes to doing business, it feels like we always have more things to squeeze into the average day. The demands on us as business owners continue to grow, our "to do" list keeps getting longer and the days seems to get shorter. One of the biggest factors affecting our success is, without doubt, managing ourselves and managing our workload, neither of which is easy.
For most people working in their own business, I think it's fair to say that we haven't had formal "getting stuff done" training. We work out our own style of doing things, generally following the "squeaky wheel" approach of processing work by the client that makes the most noise or the job that has become the most urgent. Not the best way to manage anything.
The big problem is that often we haven't established smart and effective daily routines. Having been in business for many years, and worked with many business owners, I believe that routines and rituals are without a doubt, one of the biggest determining factors on whether or not a business is successful.
Determining the right routines and rituals is not easy. Often it's a case of trial and error. We need to try different things to see what works and what doesn't. We need to talk to other business owners to find out what they do and see if it will work for us. We need to read and research ways of establishing routines and getting things done, to look for ideas that might work for us.
So, what are the routines and rituals we need to establish and follow religiously? I think there are five specific ones that make the difference:
1. Have great morning rituals to get your day started in the right way.
This includes your personal routines, perhaps exercise, stopping and having a good breakfast, taking the time to plan your day ahead and thinking about your priorities for the day. Morning rituals are really important. Find one that works for you.
2. Plan your day rituals.
If you don't have an effective daily planning ritual that works for you (and this is the key), you will probably bounce around all day and not be as effective as you would like to be. Think through your day, what absolutely positively needs to be done, what has to be done first, what's going to derail you and so on. Once you have a daily plan, the next ritual is, of course, learning to stick to it.
3. Project management rituals.
This means the steps you take to actually get jobs done. This starts from the minute you submit a proposal or quote right through to the completion of the project. What processes and procedures do you have in place? Do you follow them? If not why not?
4. Health and wellbeing rituals.
As a self-confessed recovering workaholic, I know just how important it is to have good routines and rituals around your daily health and wellbeing. Once again, it's pointless if you establish routines and rituals that are unrealistic and unsustainable.
5. Money routines and rituals.
The last piece of the puzzle is around money. What are the routines and rituals you have here? Or more importantly, what do you need? Many businesses owners are not very good at managing money, managing their accounts, doing their bookwork etc. The same concept applies, we need to establish daily routines and rituals that work for us. Most of the time this relates to processing money tasks promptly.
Now as I touched on earlier, it's rare that we simply find a routine, establish it in our business and everything is rainbows and unicorns. We need to start by accepting that we need to have better routines and rituals and then set about finding the ones that resonate with us. Then we have to try them out and see if they work for us. Remember, it takes some time to turn a routine into a ritual.
The better we are at managing ourselves, the more likely we are to have a successful, profitable business. Take control of your daily routines and rituals and enjoy the results. Just be a little patient and keep looking for the routines and rituals that work for you.