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Dear Felicia,

How does a small business get and stay organized when it comes to administrative and miscellaneous tasks?

Nubia P.

via Twitter

 

Dear Nubia,

Administrative and miscellaneous tasks are a necessary part of business, but they sure can be big time wasters too.  If you are able to hire an administrative assistant who is primarily responsible for these tasks, or delegate them to a virtual assistant, then this will save you a lot of time — and make you more money — in the long run.  However, if you have to handle them for yourself until your business grows, then get disciplined about scheduling them as part of your day.

Here are four steps for maximizing your time and remaining organized to handle administrative tasks while running your business.

1.     Complete your critical or “must-do” tasks first: Identify your revenue-generating tasks and put them at the top of your daily to-do list.  Keep your list short at seven items or less.  You can keep a master list of to-do items a mile long, but keep that in a folder or Word file somewhere else.  Don’t use your long list as a daily guide because subconsciously, it is not good to end your day everyday with more things left to do than you have completed.  It is more psychologically rewarding to have a short list that you complete or nearly complete each day.

2.     Schedule everything, including breaks for administrative tasks: Schedule your day with a generous amount of time for revenue-generating tasks because they are priorities.  In between these tasks, or as a short break from them, schedule 15 to 30 minutes for administrative or miscellaneous items, such as answering e-mail or returning calls.  Working in blocks of time like this has really helped me.  I have gotten to the point where I schedule everything, including time for interruptions.  I know this may sound a little rigid, but it takes a good bit of discipline and focus to build a business that pays for itself and pays you well so sometimes we have to upgrade our habits.

3.     Start your day with energy and focus: Every day before I start working I take a few quiet minutes to get centered.  I then check my BlackBerry calendar so I know what is ahead.  I also have my to-do list — written the day before — on my desk waiting to be worked through when I get started in the morning.

4.     Be honest with yourself and eliminate or minimize distractions: I have found that e-mail and telephone calls distract me a lot.  So now, I don’t check e-mail or make phone calls until I have done two or three things on my list.  This way I build momentum and it’s easier for me to get back to work after checking e-mail for 30 minutes or taking a call.  I also now put my BlackBerry on silent and leave it in my purse and out of reach while I am working.  If it is there on my desk, I have the tendency to keep checking it every two minutes.  This is so silly, but it’s what all these gadgets and the Internet have done to us!  Identify your time wasting weaknesses and set yourself up for success by getting rid of the distractions.

Unless you are naturally structured, when you first attempt to manage your time like this it will feel odd and you will stray from it. But eventually if you stick with it, you will form new habits and feel great about how much real work (not busy work) you are getting done and that will compel you to stick with it.

Grace & Peace,

Felicia Joy

Felicia Joy is a nationally recognized entrepreneur who created $50 million in value for the various organizations and companies she served in corporate America before launching her business enterprise.  She is often called on to discuss the ins and outs of entrepreneurial success and has appeared on CNN, FOX and in other national press.  Felicia operates Ms. CEO Inc., a company that helps women entrepreneurs achieve more success, faster — as well as Joy Group International, LLC, a business development and consulting firm. Send her your questions at ask@feliciajoy.biz or www.twitter.com/feliciajoy.

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