How to know what to prioritize when everything seems important — Susan Elford

Three Big Places you can look to Prioritize with Purpose, Execute with Efficiency and Outsource to Remove Overwhelm (FREE RESOURCE)

One of the plagues of the new business owner and emerging entrepreneur is knowing what to prioritize.

What do you do first when EVERYTHING seems to be “most” important?

Especially when you’re in the start-up stage when you may not have yet set up a structure for your days and a method to organize your creative madness.

Having been a business owner myself for 20+ years and having worked with hundreds of business owners in the early stages of building their new business, the answer isn’t a quick-fix, but there are three key areas I like to look at when helping my clients design a structure that works for them.

Here are three key areas to examine when designing your days with Purpose and Efficiency to remove the Overwhelm: 1) Prioritize with Purpose

In Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, McKeown makes the case for being an “essentialist” vs the “non-essentialist.” The Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, the Essentialist mindset requires us to grapple with trade-offs and make tough decisions about where to focus our energy and to Follow One Course Until Successful (F-O-C-U-S).

The challenge is that many entrepreneurs are highly creative, highly energetic, and often have too many ideas in a single day to execute everything that needs to be done with efficiency.

McKeown advocates for living by design vs. by default. Instead of making choices reactively, such as allowing your inbox to dictate the flow of your day, McKeown and many productivity experts advocate for determining where your highest point of contribution lies and then executing from there.

As a brand new business owner, there’s still the place of needing to get clients in the door before you can start giving yourself the luxury of outsourcing or really choosing what needs to be done. It ALL needs to get done, am I right?

The TWO essential things you need to do as a business owner are simply:

i. Client work

ii. Marketing

If your daily work tasks aren’t focused on one of these areas, you need to ask yourself what they are in service of.

Client work and Marketing. If your daily tasks aren’t focused on one of the areas you need to ask yourself what you are in service of Click To Tweet

2) Execute with Efficiency

Alliteration aside, executing with efficiency is a combination of time management, the highest use of your talents, and implementing brave boundaries.

The first thing I have my clients do when they come to me wanting to get more done in their day is to identify their time leaks. (FREE DOWNLOAD). The tedious task of writing down how you spend your time will pay off when you can visibly identify where you are allowing time to literally leak out of your day. Much like a food diary, this time diary has you stop and notice how you are spending your time. It elevates the conscious choice around that time and, once you’re clear about how you’re spending those parts of your day when you have the most energy, you may choose to rearrange your day or eliminate some things out of your workday altogether.

The next big thing with ensuring your talents are being put to best use is to understand your personal work style and build your self-awareness around your unique traits. There are many resources out there. The Enneagram is quite popular right now, and of course, the age-old Myers Briggs always delivers some insights. I find the ease of Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz quite insightful as well as Strengths-Finder, for identifying your top strengths — as well as your bottom strengths. Spending more time working with your natural style vs. against it will help you execute your workday with more efficiency.

And now, what about maintaining Brave Boundaries around your time and the competing things that call for your attention? The combination of Rubin’s Four Tendencies (I’m naturally an Obliger) and being aware of the boundaries I would cross to Oblige, has helped me to move my tendency to more of an “Upholder” during my workday when I need to not only “get stuff done,” but get the “right” stuff done in my business each day. A great resource to learn more about Setting Brave Boundaries is Nedra Glover Tawwab’s book. Set Boundaries, Find Peace: a guide to reclaiming yourself. I highly recommend this book that will help you see that, as Tawwab says, “your boundaries around how you manage your time are the solution to your time-management issues.”

Alliteration aside, executing with efficiency is a combination of time management, the highest use of your talents, and implementing brave boundaries. Click To Tweet

3) Outsource to Remove Overwhelm

The new business owner often quickly looks over the option of outsourcing as they see more dollars going out the window than coming in, during the early stages of business building.

The topic of your money story is for another day, but suffice to say, if you’re thinking your new business is going to bring in money overnight, what you want is a J-O-B and not the investment in a business that can take up to two years before turning a profit and you can pay yourself. You need to be sure you’re in this for the long haul, and that means putting in systems and processes that are worth the investment now as they will save you time and money now and into the future. (P.S. Time is money when you’re running a business)

Here are a few things you can outsource early in your business without breaking the bank:

i. Scheduling — there are free scheduling tools you can put on your website or in your email signature so potential and current clients can schedule time with you with ease, professionalism, and efficiency. I use Acuity Scheduling, however, there are many others, such as Schedule Once, Calendly and Simply Book.

ii. Expenses and Billing — Of course hire a bookkeeper when you have the resources to do so, in the meantime, Quickbooks or another similar bookkeeping program can keep your invoicing and expenses organized really easily to avoid the tedium of rummaging through that shoebox full of invoices prior to tax time. I find this part of your business can be an absolute time suck, so the earlier you automate this process, the better.

iii. Automate your Social Media — Precious few business owners can get away with not using social media, but who has time (apart from your teenager) to spend all day on social? I sit down once a week and schedule my posts for the week. Yes, I now have support in terms of a Social Media Manager as well, but in the early days, I did it all myself. Using a scheduling system such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social means you can set it and forget it.

Interested in learning more about time-saving and business mindset and methodology? Join my newsletter for monthly inspiration and content to keep you motivated and on track, all month long. You can sign up for that HERE. And if that’s not enough, the Aligned Business Collective may be for you — this community of early-stage entrepreneurs meet bi-weekly to learn new content and keep delivering and on track in their growing business, each and every week. To find out more about that, check out this link and reach out so we can chat about if this small group program is the best option for you in this stage of your business journey.

To your success, in business, in your career and in life,

Susan

TLDR? Choose how you spend your time wisely and implement time-saving strategies so you get the essential things done in your business, and you are working with your unique strengths to get the most out of every day.

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Originally published at https://susanelford.com on March 1, 2022.

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I'm a Leadership Coach & PR Consultant in Calgary. President Lean In Calgary #leadership #entrepreneur #familyadventures #Mom #travel http://www.susanelford.com

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Susan Elford

Susan Elford

I'm a Leadership Coach & PR Consultant in Calgary. President Lean In Calgary #leadership #entrepreneur #familyadventures #Mom #travel http://www.susanelford.com

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