You’re already running late for a meeting, need to make a reservation for lunch, and just realized you never returned the call from the dentist to schedule an appointment. To top it all off, you meant to look up the bio of the person you’re meeting for lunch, and have stacked work and meetings until then. There’s no possibility of doing the research without dropping the ball on something else.
You need some productivity hacks, and fast. Fear not, here are my top three hacks to help make your day less stressful and way more productive.
Decide what you’re not an expert in, and outsource it
Many small business owners and web professionals think they’re great at everything, because, well, they just do. It’s great to have pride in the awesomeness that you’re building, but offloading tasks can save you time, help free up space in your day, and allow you to focus on your strengths. I’m a good developer, strategist and inventor. I’m not a great designer. While doing everything myself makes me feel in control, outsourcing web, print and logo design helps me free more time for creating and strategizing. Remember that your business is awesome because you have differentiated yourself from others in your industry. That specialization probably has something to do with your strengths. By making more time for them to shine, you’ll also strengthen your business.
Select the right contractor
Finding good talent can be hard. Luckily there are plenty of places on the web that broker creative and technical expertise. Remember to use the same level of scrutiny when choosing a contractor from a marketplace that you’d use to select a contractor for a renovation project. Ask for references, bids, references and detailed work plans. If it doesn’t feel right, move onto the next candidate.
Get a personal assistant (spoiler: it’s super inexpensive)
Hiring a personal assistant used to be something only executives could do. Internet innovations have changed the personal assistant landscape. Services like FancyHands allow you to enter a task and have it completed by one of an army of assistants. I’ve had these pay-per-use personal assistants do everything from research to scheduling to transcription. Creating a task is quick and easy, and will knock your stress down a peg.
Partner with another pro
Listen, business is kinda like the hunger games — sometimes you have to form alliances in order to survive. If you need extra capacity for a big job, or want to accept a job slightly out of your zone of expertise, partner with a friend or community member that can help fill the need you’re looking for. Remember, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) do everything yourself. Focus on what you’re uniquely good at.
Use an agile backlog to get stuff done
You don’t have to be a part of a big team to use agile methodology to accomplish things efficiently. Check out the free tool, Trello, to create a “backlog,” “in-progress,” and “finished” column of “cards.” Prioritize the cards in your backlog (tasks to be done) by dragging to re-order them, and at the end of the week, be amazed by everything you’ve moved into the “finished” column. Every week, set aside a day to groom (or prioritize) tasks and check-in on the status of others. This hack makes it easy to prioritize like the pros!
Hacks in action
Now, let’s think about the scenario I opened with.
You’re running late for a meeting, and you can relax. Your personal assistant has already made a reservation for lunch and scheduled the appointment with the dentist you meant to make a week ago. While you’re at your meeting, you can rest easy knowing a bio for the person you’re meeting for lunch will be in your inbox, and you’ll spend your time on more interesting work because you’ve offloaded a few things on your personal agile board to your marketplace contractor or fellow pro. You’ve got a team behind you, and to your clients, you look professional and unstoppable. Well done, friend, well done.
If you have productivity hacks to share, or want more recommendations, hit me up on Twitter @ifyouwillit, or in the comments below.