Research shows that the second biggest time waster for small businesses and solopreneurs is administration work, second to emails. Admin can blur the line between busy work and productive work and is definitely not revenue-generating. So how can you reduce the time spent on weekly admin?
If you don’t manage the time you set aside to do it, administration tasks can expand to fill the available space and before you realise it you’ve spent a whole morning on “admin”. So the most important starting point is to carve out specific time in your calendar where you will focus just on admin and be intentional with that time.
Many weekly admin tasks are repetitive e.g. writing a blog post or social media, sending out proposals, managing your calendar and scheduling appointments. Making digitisation your friend is key here – so don’t shy away from technology as it will really help (even if you’ve got to put some set-up time in first). It will help you manage administrative tasks simply & quickly.
Here are some tricks to tackle your admin workload more effectively & reduce the time spent on weekly admin.
Processes > Workflows > Systems
Don’t waste time thinking about what you need to do every time you need to do it. Nail your processes & workflows and put in simple systems to handle repetitive tasks. This will also help you create productive time management habits.
Brainstorm all the tasks you do every day/week/month. For example, you could map out your client onboarding process, what you need to include in every blog post, how you write & schedule your social media.
Whatever “thing” you have to do time & time again, break it down and record all the individual processes or tasks, put into a workflow and incorporate it into your systems.
You can create processes & workflows in a project management app such as Asana or Trello or create a simple checklist on a spreadsheet. Then add daily/weekly/monthly processes as repeatable appointments in your calendar including a link to the checklist/workflow.
If you want to learn more about why you should create processes and how to implement them, I wrote about a blog post about it: Why and how you should document your processes.
Now you have your processes in place, think about all the emails or documents you send out every week as part of that workflow. What can be put into an editable template?
In Gmail, you can create template emails for answers to recurring questions or direct people where to find certain information.
In Google Drive, you can create simple templates for client onboarding or consultation checklists for example. Or if you would prefer something with a bit more “pizazz”, create more visual templates in Canva.
Be sure to go back and link to any templates wherever you record your processes & workflows, so you don’t waste time navigating or finding the right template to use.
Just like paper, online documents and emails have a habit of getting out of control. And just like we are told with paper documents, handle your online documents the same way, with the one-touch approach. Bin it, action it, file it.
Set up an A-Z online filing cabinet for any PDFs or other downloaded reference documents – only save the things you really think you need or will be helpful.
Look at other information you have scattered around in your digital world. Are the same types of information filed in the same place? Would you quickly know where to find something? For example customer records. Don’t scatter them across various online platforms e.g. on emails and on a spreadsheet and offline e.g. business cards. Put them all in one place, maybe utilising a CRM such as Hubspot or Dubsado.
You know your processes & workflows, you have the templates created, you’re filing everything in its digital home and for the last step. Get things automated. There are so many tools to do this and automation is perfect for any repetitive or predictable task.
So for example:
- Implement online booking options such as Acuity & Calendly on your website (you can also connect to an app like Stripe to accept payments). This also has the added benefit of making bookings available to clients 24/7.
- Use Zapier to link apps, for example, my Stripe invoices are recorded automatically in Wave, which is my book-keeping software. No need to manually add them.
- Create invoices, recurring payments & follow-ups for late payments with Wave or Xero.
- Maximise email marketing by signing up with an email marketing automation service such as MailChimp or Mailerlite.
If you’d like to know more tools I use to automate tasks or boost my productivity, you can download the list here.
I’m including emails as part of the administration as I think people suffering with “email overwhelm” is because they treat their inbox as something it’s not.
It’s not a todo list.
It’s not storage for your files.
It’s not a dumping ground.
So much of our time gets taken up by emails every day. Don’t let it own you, spend some time “admin time” on getting it set up to work for you.
A few important things to become an email master:
- Don’t let it distract you so turn off notifications.
- Set certain times a day to check emails for a specified period of time.
- Action each email only once: delete it, file it, delegate it, if less than 2 mins do it, more than 2 minutes put it on the to-do list.
- Address people’s expectations of a reply. e.g. tell people I only reply between these hours every day within 48 hours. If it’s urgent, call me.
- Zapier offers some really helpful automated ways to handle emails.
You can also read here for more tips on managing your emails.
Final thought, review your administrative tasks and ask yourself what is important and/or urgent to complete and do you even need to do them? Can you just delete or abandon a certain task or delegate it to someone else? If you’re not sure what tasks you could delegate, why don’t we set up a call and chat about it? Don’t let out of control admin tasks sidetrack you, resulting in lost time and money.
Which of these tricks are you going to use to reduce time spent on admin? Let me know in the comments below.