How do you find balance as a business owner? My work colleagues ask me this in a roundabout way all the time. Their way of asking isn't usually a question, it's an exclamation: "How the hell do you do all that?" Or maybe, "When do you sleep?" Or sometimes, "Do you sleep?"
I do sleep, I promise. I don't always get 8 hours of sleep, as I imagine most of the world doesn't. As a business owner, I have to prioritize. I also have a secret weapon. Here are the Top 5 Best Practices for Productivity, according to me:
1. Utilize your spouse.
My spouse works for my soap business. He has done this since about 2008, when he would trade off with me and work at the farmer's market so I could have a day to sleep in. Since 2010, he has made soap for me, taken inventory, shipped mail orders, worked at farmer's markets, and run errands for the business. I keep him very busy, and it helps to keep me sane. He also gets our daughter ready for and to school, sometimes picks her up in the afternoons, and he cooks for the family. He does our grocery shopping and household errands and tasks, too. I do some household tasks, but I work at a regular ol' job, so I do what I can before collapsing. He does the rest.
2. Batch tasks and focus your efforts.
I never go to the post office to mail something on the weekends. Why would I? If I'm picking my daughter up after my job, I've got about an hour for errands. Since the post office is near her school, I can do all my mailing then. I can also go to the bank during that time. This is one tiny example of how to batch your tasks or errands so that you can get more done in a shorter amount of time. Checking your email at set times of day, instead of every time you pick up your phone, is another way to batch tasks. Check email at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm, and that's it. Answer all emails during that time, send what you need to send, and then don't look at it until the next designated time. You can do this. The world isn't going to fall apart if you don't return an email right away.
3. Stick to your vision.
Your business belongs to you. You must learn how to ignore people who will say, "You know what you should do? You should do THIS." There are a lot of people that know what they are doing in business, and WAY MORE people who don't know shit. Most of the latter are the ones who want to should all over your project. Tactfully ignore them by saying, "Hmm. I hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the idea." And then continue the close focus of your business. This leads into...
4. Learn how to say "no."
You must learn this, quickly. You must also learn that sometimes you will need to say it to yourself. It's easier to say it to others, and even easier to say it via email. I get soliciations all the time through email, and most of the ideas just don't interest me. I either think they are a bad idea, too much work, or simply do not fit into my business plan. Here is an easy statement you can feel free to copy and paste, if you find it hard to say no:
Thanks so much for your inquiry. However, I do not feel this opportunity is a good fit for me at this time.
Best of luck,
5. 98% perfect is perfect enough.
Send your work out into the world when it is 98% there. You must, at some point, stop fussing over every little thing and get it out there, or you won't ever make any money. Got a great idea? Make it happen, and throw it out into the world. Use the knowledge you have already gained from business to make the right decision, and 98% of the time, your 98% perfect idea will result in profits.
What are your favorite productivity suggestions?