In 2019, I started the New Year talking about fixing your To-Do List, in 2020 I’m compiling some of my most helpful tips for you to bring into the New Year and your business.
Do you have professional or business goals you hope to achieve in 2020? Or do you just have a list of actions you’re going to take that you hope will create options and opportunities for you to capitalize on throughout the year?
Do you even believe in writing down goals and in New Year’s Resolutions specifically?
There’s also the question of whether to tell people your goals or not, which some research suggesting that you’re better off keeping your goals to yourself if you want to succeed, while others tell people their goals to get support in reaching their objectives from those around them.
I personally think either method can work for you depending on the type of person you are and what motivates you, what I do really like is the SMART model for conceiving goals, or at least initial goals and the steps to attain them:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Tangible
Regardless of your approach to the new year, have a safe and enjoyable2020
The new To Do List:
1. MOST URGENT
2. MOST IMPORTANT
3. MOST ENJOYABLE
By paring down my list I find it easier to focus on taking my tasks one at a time and I actually get things done. But how did I get from the overlong, overwhelming To Do list to the fixed up 3 item To Do List?
I started to realize I wasn’t getting everything on my list done anyway. In fact I wasn’t really getting anything done, just spending a lot of time making lists and not getting work done, so the panic of not putting everything down onto a list was outweighed by the fact that whether my list had 5 items or 20 items I was probably only get 3 items done anyway, so I was no further ahead in my work but was a ball of stress and wasted time.
Since I just needed to find a way to keep my To Do list short and pared down I went with three items that made sense to me: 1) The most urgent thing I need to get done, whatever if most pressing and has the shortest timeline, that just makes sense; 2) The most important thing for me to get done, this will be different for everyone, for you it might be work for your highest value client or a key piece of your business strategy, whatever is most important to you and you see as being of the highest value to your business, but isn’t urgent immediately, do that; 3) The last item should be one of the aspects of your business you most enjoy doing, something that will keep you motivated to continue to work and is emotionally rewarding and important to you as an individual and to your business.
So give it a try! If you find yourself ruled by your To Do List and you’re not being very productive anyway, why not try dramatically paring down your To Do List and managing it, rather than letting it rule you.
I recently took a picture of my desk for my Instagram. I was talking about my love of using paper to write your To Do list, as opposed to keeping a digital one. But looking back at the picture I realized something important in the way I keep my To Do list. I’ve essentially created a workflow process to keep me on track for the day!
-I have my daily tasks I do every morning before I start anything else.
-I have a quick breakdown of what I plan to focus my social media on throughout the week.
-Carrying on from the daily tasks on the To Do list I have my task list where I write other things I need to get done and what’s coming up next.
-I also keep space where I can make notes and jot down important bits of info.
I will keep this page running throughout my week, adding checks beside the top portion of the To Do list as I accomplish each task every day of the week, and if I’ve posted what I said I would on social media…or making a note if I added or changed something.
As new tasks get added throughout the week they go on the list, notice how it’s halfway down the page? That’s so I can add more important things above, and less time sensitive things below.
Anyway, it’s just a little thing that I thought I’d share. I found it very interesting that it came about so organically and it’s been very helpful to keep me on track and focused.
Here are some more specific factors to consider when hiring, so you can start off on the right foot with your employees and maintain positive labour relations and a good reputation as a great company to work for and do business with:
- Always remember to stay professional and in control of your emotions when dealing with employees;
- Remember that as the employer you have a degree of power over the people who work for you, and with that authority you owe them the responsibility to use it respectfully and effectively, for the good of the business and the employee; also be careful to distinguish what’s necessary for the business with what makes life easy for you and enriches yourself, as this will lead to resentment and dissatisfaction in your employees;
- When you’re getting ready to hire write an accurate job description and stick to it;
- Inform yourself on local labour laws and ensure you’re signed up for the necessary provincial and federal tax and compensation programs;
- Be careful of biases in your hiring process and communicate well and often throughout it;
- Have an initial interview to review the written job description once you make your hire, and go over what your onboarding process looks like and what your probationary period will require;
- Plan your onboarding and training and execute those plans effectively; and
- Gain feedback from your employees and communicate feedback to them.
Overall, just ensure you’re treating your employees with respect and respecting HR best practices and local labour laws. Communicate well and often and be as invested in your employees success and financial well-being as you are in your business’ because the two will go hand and hand.
Training is critically important! Please take the time to learn how to do it effectively.
Your business, at a minimum, should have a plan in place for individual training for each employee, structured training related to onboarding, and a holistic view of enterprise training.
I’ve always found this a very intuitive process, something easy to do, although it does take time and some thoughtfulness to accomplish. It also takes some risk and willingness to experiment to find what works for you and your organization.
So what do you do, actually? What does “workplace training” even look like? Imagine, if tomorrow an angel investor came to your business and offered to invest in your company and double your employees in 1 month. What would you do and how would you handle getting that many people, onboarded, trained, integrated and up-to-speed with how your company does business?
That’s workplace training. That’s enterprise training. The plan you put together to accomplish that is your enterprise training plan. And within it there will be a breakdown of specific courses, skills, and leadership capabilities you’ll also want to teach to your people. You’ll go over onboarding and job specific training. Some courses and seminars can be done in-house, some will be out-sourced.
In essence, coming up with an enterprise training plan is a bit like reverse engineering. You have a goal in mind, where you want your company to be, you deduce what skills and capabilities your employees will need to have to get there and accomplish that goal and then you come up with the plan to move from where you are at point A, to where you need to go to make your goals a reality at point B.
It’s important to set a Facebook schedule and stick to it. Consistently sticking to your schedule, whatever and whenever that is, and producing quality content is the most important way to develop your online presence and build an engaged audience. How you develop your Facebook schedule should depend on a variety of factors, including the data mentioned below, but also something that will fit into your work flow and what you’re able to stick to.
You schedule also allows you to pre-schedule your posts and have them ready for the week ahead, an important strategy for building and staying on brand, running campaigns and measuring whether you’re meeting your Facebook growth goals.
Most metric measures suggest posting only once per day is optimal, and around 3 times per week. It’s also important to find something that’s manageable, and above all something you can stick to consistently. When I was first building my business I had the time and resources to post daily, Monday through Friday. Now that I’m managing multiple accounts I’ve recently adjusted my schedule to Tuesdays and Thursdays, because that’s what I can stick to. Generally accepted wisdom suggests the best time to post is between 1-4 pm on weekdays.
For some clients I post 5 days a week on week days, which is important for them as they’re in a public information domain and consistently sharing information regularly is important for their brand. Most importantly, they have the resources to stick to that schedule.
For another client I post Monday/Wednesday/Friday, because it’s what they can afford, and if left to their own devices they’d post 2 times a day once every 2-3 weeks, which is sub-optimal.
From my personal observation engagement and views drops off toward the end of the week, and I see less engagement on posts Thursday and Friday compared to posts earlier in the week, but this may not hold true for your industry or your audience.
Some other Facebook tips:
- Use images! I rarely post on Facebook without a photo or image. Images get more engagement and draw the eye more than just words on a page.
- Use relevant hashtags, but not too many. Stick to 3 relevant hashtags that would be terms people might search if they were looking for information on the topic you’re writing about.
I think there’s still space for an opt-in newsletter, as long as you keep it relevant and infrequent. Depending on the nature of your business this might mean a weekly, monthly or quarterly publication. While I might see a journalist, political writer or pundit doing a weekly newsletter, I would advise another type of small business to do one only monthly, and depending on your industry you might only have something new to say quarterly.
To keep it relevant, don’t focus on what your newsletter can do for you, but what it can do for your audience and potential customers. Word templates and Publisher templates, are functional with multiple template ideas that will allow you to find something that meets your needs.
If you have the Microsoft Office suite of programs and haven’t been using Publisher you’re missing out. It’s a great way to prepare flyers, bulletins and even newsletters. If you’re operating on a do-it-yourself budget this is a great tool to start with to create some of your own promotional material.
Images are key to get eyes on your content, and Pixabay has been a good tool for finding images to use. But buyer beware, there’s always an inherent risk of copyright violation and these sites are only as good as they police themselves.
I do a surprising amount of image manipulation and editing in PowerPoint, and it’s also good for creating pitch decks, presentation or your own marketing plans and strategies. PowerPoint is particularly effective because it’s such a visual platform that allows you to map out ideas and work.
Build a website for your business. Change it as you’re developing your business to meet your changing business needs. Blog from it to reach potential customers. Affordable hosting and a great beginner to intermediate tool. I’ve also used Shopify (which I would recommend if you’re a product focused or pure sales business) and Wix and I definitely prefer WordPress as the best do-it-yourself, get online, and share content, platform.
I love having a cloud drive built into my Outlook email. From it I can share large documents from clients, access files regardless of what computer I’m on and back-up files from my computer hard drive. As a free tool that comes with a free email account, I think this is a great way for a business owner on a shoestring budget to create a collaborative workspace to meet employee and client needs.
I hope this round-up helps you go into 2020 strong and it’s the best year yet for your business!
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