Decluttering Work

Decluttering Work

Work Smarter

Most people work hard every day, are committed and perform well – but do not work smart.

This is because most people, regardless of education level, have never been taught how to work. Instead, they have developed work habits that are not the most efficient and effective ones.

We are not born naturally effective, although in my research there are studies that show some have a default setting enabling them to ignore the chaos and just get on with it. The rest, however, must learn the principles and practice them until they become habits.

I hear constantly from my team and clients that one of their biggest frustrations is finding themselves at the end of each day having worked hard on a lot of small crises but having not had the time to focus on any of their big-ticket items. They appear to be extremely busy and stressed but in reality, have not done much at all. If this is you, then it’s time for a change.

The impact of our lack of efficiency and effectiveness does not stop in the workplace. When I talk to people about what they would like to do if they were more in control of their time, most of the items are personal. Common responses are:

  • Come home earlier to see my kids
  • Have more time to look after my health
  • Avoid bringing my work stress home
  • Avoid waking up at night thinking about what I forgot to do

I find it interesting that none of these reasons for wanting to be more productive are profit or business result driven. As workers I believe that our general goal is to get our work done so we can spend time doing other things. If you are struggling with motivation, make the change personal not business related.

There are two steps to making a change:

  1. Own it – realise and take note of inefficiencies & ineffective practices
  2. Fix it – work on simple ways to improve performance and work life balance by challenging work habit
EFFICIENCY VS EFFECTIVENESS

Efficiency – doing things right (how)
Effectiveness – doing the right things (what)

WHERE TO START? – GET ORGANISED

There is so much literature and media showing different methods to ‘declutter’ and organise your personal items. For someone like myself these are a nightmare to read and watch. The copious number of items these people have is just mind boggling and no organising system is going to sort out the behaviour behind this type of clutter. They need a therapist, not little boxes.

A close friend suggested I write about how to minimalize, considering my place looks like we have just been robbed! The book wouldn’t be very long – declutter (donate or dump) and then don’t accumulate more things. If you need to buy products to help you organise (boxes, storage items etc) you have too many things.

I am aware that this is a very simplistic view and I can hear all the ‘what about my kids’ artwork from 7 years ago’ and other comments coming but it is just that simple.

Moving on, lets focus on decluttering the workplace.

A cluttered desk and Inbox, a cluttered mind

My desk has a phone, computer peripherals, lined notepad, water bottle and my pencil case. No trays, no work from months ago or random stationery you use once a blue moon. Admittedly, we are a paperless office, so I rarely have client files or documents on my desk as they are scanned into the system. Because of this I have multiple screens. If you have something electronic don’t print it, learn to utilise multiple screens. Try and get through your workday with a little less of a footprint on our amazing planet. Is that report that important? I bet you printed it and binned it in the same day. I can empathise as a ‘40 something’ how adjusting to not having paper is difficult. When we started our working lives, it was all paper based – but seriously, just get with the times and move on.

Having a clean desk policy not only makes your work environment look nice it helps you remain focused on the tasks in front of you. The same policy goes for having 50 windows open or a drive overloaded with documents.

Get into the habit of setting up your physical and electronic environment to be inducive for productivity.

Electronic Filing Mayhem?

Your electronic filing system should be so logical and make sense for you and your business, that it will be easy to respect and maintain. Your filing system should relate to how you see your role and the different hats you wear in your job.

Be honest Will I need it?

Be ruthless When was the last time I used it? What is the worst thing that can happen if I throw it out?

Be smart Can I find it easily somewhere else?

When naming a soft document, give it a label so clear and simple that you don’t have to open the document to know exactly what is inside. Also, consider that you may need to use the explorer search feature in the future, so don’t label 100 documents ‘client workpapers’ use the clients name and year as well.

If you are an employee or in a position where you are not in control of the electronic filing system in your workplace and it is inefficient, be the one to instigate change. I guarantee you that there will be countless others that feel the same way, but no one is bothered to do anything about it. Make it your project!

Also, keep in mind these types of changes take an investment of time and energy. At Nurture, the transition to paperless (which was my baby a few years ago) took a good 4 months of my time standing in the filing room opening and sorted every single client paper file. My staff supported me with the archiving and scanning yes, but I touched and decided on every piece of paper. This was tough, not only was I riddled with papercuts, but I felt very unproductive. Skip forward to now, we don’t generate or create the paper in the first place and will never have to go through this process again. We have less risk of losing documents, spend less time locating documents and have less storage requirements (two spare rooms to be exact).

THE BIG THREE TIMEWASTERS

TIME WASTER #1 – MANAGING WORKFLOW

Stress is not linked to the amount of work we have.

Stress is linked to the way you manage your workload.

5 Minute Rule

The 5 Minute Rule (sometimes referred to as the One Touch One Decision Rule) is a workflow method I personally use on a day to day basis at work and at home. This is a method that not only is easy to implement but can have a significant impact on your productivity and stress levels almost immediately.

If you can practise this principle until it becomes second nature this will be extremely valuable.

The logic is simple:
You need to make a decision as soon as you touch an email or a document or think about an idea. It does not mean you need to do it, you just need to decide what you will do and when.

Less than 5minutes? Do it immediately.

More than 5minutes? Decide when you will do it and schedule. Estimate amount of time you will need, go into your calendar, task app or notebook and schedule the tasks for a specific date and time.

Once you have decided to do it now or schedule it now, remove the email/piece of paper and advise the person of your intention (quick response with your timeframe can stop future headaches).

Make the decision and either delete or file the document. The only items in your inbox or in-tray, should be items you have not yet applied this rule to.

When you arrive home do you check the letterbox, open the letter, read it and then put it back in the letterbox thinking ‘I’ll deal with this later’ no!

TIME WASTER #2 – LACK OF FOCUS

It is important to take notice of the difference between interruption and distractions.

Interruption is caused by someone else and distraction is caused by you.

Reduce interruptions:

YOU decide. Ask the person to come back later or make a time to go through things with them. Start a list (batch communication). Daily, weekly or monthly set up calendar items and add items to the meeting during that time.

Create non-interrupted time:

If you are working on a key project or doing something which will have a high impact on your business, turn off your phones, close your inbox and focus.

Reduce Distractions:

1. Capture/write it down.

We start to work on something and suddenly remember a phone call we have to do. We either make the call and completely break our focus or decide to do it later and keep the idea playing in the back of our mind.

As soon as you think about something you need to do, simply write it down. Don’t let the thought go back into your subconscious. Use a mini notebook you carry everywhere or an app in your phone. On a daily basis, review your list while in your office. Apply the 5-minute rule.

2. Clean desk policy

Outlook is a much better task manager than your desk. Your desk doesn’t tell you when to do something and how long it will take.

Apply the 5-minute rule to your incoming work and remove.

TIME WASTER #3 – INEFFECTIVE MEETINGS

Eliminate unnecessary meetings. You need to be protective of your time and carefully select the meetings you will accept.

Assess the right amount of time required. We so often book one-hour meetings when they are not required.

Have an agenda and stick to it.

After a meeting make sure you take five minutes to plan your next steps so everyone knows what they are doing. Remember the 5minute rule.

HOMEWORK!

Be honest with yourself – Write down which time wasters are the most applicable to you.

You can do this for home and for work. Identify the biggest 2 or 3. Once you are clear on this, write down what do you need to do to improve. Improvement does not need to be complex. Simple strategies often get big results. In 21 days’, time, see how you are going and if you notice changes to you stress and productivity.

If not, then go back and review the strategies and perhaps what is stopping you from improving. Make sure that you inform those around you of your intentions, colleagues, friends and family. Having support is the key to making any changes to behaviour. Good Luck!!

Need help with your business? Speak to the team at Nurture Accounting
5 Free Time Management Apps To Increase Your Productivity

5 Free Time Management Apps To Increase Your Productivity

We’ve all had those days, where we sit back and think – Wow I got so much done! Then we also have those days where we look back and go, where did time go? I still have so much to do!

So what makes a productive and non-productive day? The answer is how you are budgeting your time!

No matter if you’re a manager, staff member or business owner it’s easy to loose track of the day. So here at Nurture Accounting we want you to not only set budgets financially, but also set budgets for your time!

By budget we mean the organising of your time, to enable you to be more effective and productive. To help we’ve put together 5 FREE Time management apps that will increase your productivity.

1. BE FOCUSED TIMER
Cost: FREE
Available on: iOS | Mac

Be focused is a timer that allows you to track blocks of work, as well as view prior work history. This will help you manage set and track your goals as well as tasks, you’ll also be able to customise work intervals to get the most out of your day.

2. TODOIST
Cost: FREE (Basic Option)
Available on: iOS | Android | Desktop | Most Web Apps

Todoist is a time management app that will help you assign to-do items and set due dates, you can also tag the to-do items with different tag labels. We love this because you can simply add tasks form any device (desktop or phone). It also focuses on your growth (which we love) as you get points for completing tasks consistently!

3. 30/30 APP
Cost: FREE
Available on: iOS

A lot of what you get out of the day, comes down to your ability to know when to move onto the next task Which is why we LOVE 30/30! This application allows you to focus on a specific task, but the catch is for 30 minutes, and when your time is up you stop and move on to the next item. The cycle is repeated. This is great for tracking the time that you’re spending on each task also!

4. LOOP HABIT TRACKER
Cost: FREE
Available on: iOs | Android

Who here has a bad habit? Whether it’s sleeping in, spending too much time on social media or simply not being in control of your day Loop can help. Habitloop makes it easier to be productive, both at work and at home. Simply set a goal and select the behaviour that you want to repeat on a daily basis. Eventually you’ll get into sync with these good habits and your bad ones will be left behind! This includes time management!

5. NOISLI
Cost: FREE
Available on: Desktop (paid option for mobile)

Noisli is great for those who find distractions… distracting. Noisli helps by blocking out distractions enabling you to focus on your task in front of you. You can choose nature sounds or ocean waves or customise your own sound. Ahh, relaxing and productive– thanks Noisli.

We highly recommend you visit www.noisli.com and have a listen ?

Remember that in order to get the most out of your day you need to value and budget your time.

We can help you get on top of things!

3 Time Management Tips For Busy Business Owners

3 Time Management Tips For Busy Business Owners

I have so much time in my day – said no business owner ever! Whether you run your business on your own, or alongside a team, managing your time and energy is crucial for the success of your business. With the bundle of jobs ahead of you, it can be overwhelming at times – so here are 5 time management tips to help you get your day on track.

1. START THE DAY WITH GOALS

It’s difficult to feel productive without the ability to measure your achievements, so setting goals helps you to identify clearly what you need to get out of the day. Not only should your day start with goals, but your week, month and year too. This can include goals of completing a certain project by 12pm, getting on-top of your emails, backing up your computers to a hard drive or scheduling some social media content. Whatever it is, setting goals will enable you to become more productive in each day.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Grab a white board, write down 3 goals for the day and achieve them! If you don’t reflect and think what you could have done differently to achieve those goals. Managing time is all about being conscious of the time you are using in each given task.

2. PRIORITISE WISELY

There simply isn’t enough hours in each day to complete everything that needs to be done. Consider what jobs are important and urgent and what jobs are important or urgent. As you prioritise the important and urgent jobs above standalone important or urgent jobs you will begin to identify what jobs

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: When setting your goals, stop and prioritise them this will give structure to your day allowing you to automatically proceed through your tasks without having to stop and think about what’s next.

3. LEARN TO SAY NO

As much as we as business owners like to think that we are invisible and taking on more work seems like the logical thing to do. Sometimes taking on work when we don’t really have the time is the illogical thing to do. This is why saying NO is extremely important. You’re the boss, it’s okay to say no – you need to protect the effectiveness and efficiency of your business.

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO: Reflect on the number of important and urgent jobs that need to be completed in the day, are there to many? If so, when a less urgent or less important task gets thrown at you say NO to it or delegate it to a staff member who can manage it.

Stay on top of your work – don’t let your work stay on top of you.

We can help you get on top of things!

3 New Years Resolutions for Business Owners

3 New Years Resolutions for Business Owners

For many of us business owners, the new year is a time to regather our vision for the business, take time to ourselves and spend time with the family. As people we think of resolutions that we need, and as business owners this is just as important. For business owners making a new years resolution can make a huge impact both for your motivation when you start back at work as well as during the year.

Here’s our top 3 New Years Resolutions we recommend trying out:

1. Prioritise Balance

The 9 to 5 that most employees enjoy, is often not the same balance that business owners enjoy. That’s why it’s important to prioritise balance. To continue to be a successful entrepreneur you must take the time to recharge your batteries, otherwise you risk burning out or making errors. Take time for you, try a yoga class or go for a walk along the beach. Promise us and yourself that you’ll make the time for balance this New Year.

2. Make Work Fun

Own a business they said, it’ll be fun they said. Okay, we’ve all been there – the questions of “why did I start this” and “I have no time anymore” are common questions business owners ask themselves. And if you’ve asked yourself these, it’s time to a) prioritise balance like we firstly recommended, and two start making work FUN! Create a happy place at work by creating happiness boosting traditions – yes you heard us right! Whether that’s a daily joke, watching a funny youtube video or making your workspace more invigorating. It’s important to have fun!

3. Delegate

Now, this is crucial. If you want to make work more fun, and prioritise balance you’re probably going to have to delegate. You could delegate a Fun enforcer at work, or delegate a job that you’ve been doing to an up and coming employee. You’re smart, you’ve accomplished a professional business and you’re probably not great at delegating because you trust yourself to do the job right. Are we right or are we right? So, stop that and start to delegate some of your tasks to employees that you’ve hired to help. Shifting the work to someone else is an adjustment, but once trained and confident you’ll have more balance in your life!

Need to delegate your paperwork? We can help!

3 Steps to a 2019 Business Plan

3 Steps to a 2019 Business Plan

Three Steps to a 2019 Business Plan!

One of the most common questions asked by our clients is for me to help them with their business plan. Sometimes even to write their business plan for them.

The consensus seems to be that writing a business plan is just too hard. Normally at this point their voice is filled with fear and they are holding their breath waiting for my reply. A business plan can seem a scary thing, but it does not have to be. Although Nurture technically can write a business plan, you could call us crazy but we won’t do it for you – why you ask? No other person apart from you knows your business and the ideas and plans you have as thoroughly as you.

Prove this by drafting your business plan yourself. The exercise will most likely give you a confidence boost as when you read your first draft, you will realise just how many ideas you have to move forward with. To put it very simply, a business plan is where you are at now with your business, and where you plan for it to go, and how are you going to make this happen. It is your roadmap.

So, although we won’t write one for you (because we want to empower you), we will however give you simple steps to write one.

  1. Write down you goals for your business.
  2. Sort these goals into short and medium term.
  3. Then use a template for your business plan, such as THIS TEMPLATE provided by the business.gov.au and start to type.

If you find there are certain sections that you are unsure of, or do not understand, then use this as a learning curve. If you have discovered that you have a hole in the knowledge of what you need to know with starting your business then down tools. This is the time for you to perhaps educate yourself or do some research. Better to have this lack of information sorted before you attempt to get things off the ground. Use this exercise of drafting a plan to your advantage. Soon enough you will have a first draft. Now, that does not seem too hard at all.

At Nurture Accounting, we love to work with clients particularly when starting their new business. Whilst we believe you dollars could be spent more effectively than we as your accountant write it for you, we will happily work through the review stage and add feedback and ideas to move forward. We have put together a template for a DIY business plan so that you can have a useful tool to start with and hit the ground running. When you are ready to share your business plan and work with an experienced business advisor whom will add value to your business startup, make contact with Nurture Accounting.

Need to bounce your ideas with someone! We’ve got just the person!