Guest Blogger Matt Faustman is the co-founder and CEO of UpCounsel, a legal marketplace for SMBs that uses a virtual workforce of talented lawyers to reinvent the traditional legal model for businesses. Matt is an outspoken cheerleader for SMBs, B2B technology, and supporting local business communities. Follow him at @matthewfaustman.
We are all busy. Whether you are an entrepreneur, store manager, or Lyft driver (possibly all the above), each and every one of us feels busy. How do some people manage to move mountains in a single day while others struggle to complete a basic task list? More impressive are those who have the ability to adopt these efficiency mindsets within their own organizations.
Being a student of these individuals and organizations, I have observed four common disciplines, which when put to practice, allow you and a team to accomplish more and seemingly create more hours in your day. Like any good habit, these all take practice and consistency, but are so basic that you could start today.
Schedule “Do Not Disturb” Time
There are a million things to keep track of in a single day that have absolutely nothing to do with you actually completely anything. Sound familiar? As a founder, it is critical to keep a daily pulse on your company and everyone on the team. From the second I walk into the office, to the moment I leave, there is always something to talk about or hash out with another team member.
I like being available to everyone, and we encourage a great deal of collaboration, but sometimes you just need to get stuff done. [pullthis]On most days, shortly after getting into the office, I go into our conference room, shut the door, and answer every email in my inbox, take important calls and even write blog posts (like this one). This is my “Do Not Disturb” time.[/pullthis] Likewise, others on our team have large blocks of the day that they have designated for themselves and use headphones or other signals so everyone knows it. It is important to have a lively and vocal work environment, but sometimes these moments of solitude are vital to productivity.
Own Your Living To Do List
Cliche yes, but also effective, a well curated To-Do list can be the difference between getting sh$t done and not. A good To-Do list starts with your overall goals, breaks down into weekly objectives, and finally into daily tasks to accomplish those objectives. See a recent post by Arjun Dev Arora on Clarity, Awareness, and Focus which goes into more depth on the topic. [pullshow]
Creating your lists is only half the work, you have to make sure to curate it on a daily basis. The same goes for your team. At the beginning of each day and week, revisit your tasks so you know what is coming up and adjust as your week changes. Each day you go to work you should know exactly what needs to get accomplished that day and what objective it goes toward accomplishing.
Become a Follow-Up Machine
We are not big on meetings — they just take too much time — but they’re necessary inside an organization. We try to maximize their impact by making use of follow-up emails. We find that without follow-up emails most of the meeting is lost. Have you ever been in a meeting and realized you are covering the same exact things discussed in the last meeting?
After every meeting, we have each person put together a brief follow-up email and any tasks they are responsible for as a result of the meeting. In the next meeting, you know exactly what was previously talked about and what needed to be accomplished in between. It is amazing how much more efficient your meetings will be when you have these two things nailed down.
Create More Hours for Yourself Through Delegation
I am always on the hunt for ways to move faster, tackle my tasks smarter, and create additional hours in the day for myself. Delegation is key, but is probably one of the harder things for founders and general A-type personalities to undertake. The first step is identifying those items which can be delegated.
There are certain mundane tasks each day that do not require my full attention — but nonetheless need to get done. When you add them all up in a week, it can equal a lot of time. Try it! With the low costs created through collaborative consumption startups like TaskRabbit, getting these kind of tasks done is cost-effective enough that it makes sense to delegate them to people outside our team. Weekly tasks like groceries for the office, deliveries from local stores, and general office admin tasks get done with little effort.