You could literally have hundreds or thousands of emails in your inbox. Getting it sorted once is all well and good, but you need to keep on top of it.
You can achieve this and become an email ninja with these simple steps.
Sort your inbox
First of all, sort through your inbox, either by sender or by topic, whatever works best for you. For any emails you want to keep, create a folder and put them in there. Archive the emails you don’t need. Yes, archive them! If you were going to do something with the email you have done so by now
Organise your folders
I use three folders religiously: @action, @read, @pending for storing emails I need. You may decide to use different names but adding ‘@’ will put them at the top of the inbox. Using folders like these will keep your inbox at zero and if you don’t put things in place to keep you at zero, you’ll go back to square one.
Sort your subscriptions
You are probably subscribed to lists that you have completely forgotten about!
To prevent your inbox from filling up with loads of unwanted emails, go to unrollme.com and unsubscribe to all the lists that you don’t currently read consistently.
Stay subscribed to between 5 and 7, but these should be your ‘must reads’. Then create a rule that they get sent to your ‘@read’ folder when they come in. Then you can read them when it suits you.
Create an email schedule
You need to run your email, not the other way around! If you use Google Chrome, go to inboxpause.com and download it. You can set this up to pause your email.
However, if you don’t want to do this, set up an autoresponder explaining that emails are checked at set times and in case of an emergency to contact you another way. Check your email at a set time that works for you and deal with it accordingly. Stick to these times!
The 2 minute rule
If a task can be done in 2 minutes or less, just do it and get it done. The same can be said for email. If an email is going to take you less than 2 minutes to deal with, deal with it there and then. Even if it’s just to confirm receipt of the email, the sender will appreciate it. And if you’re not going to do anything with it, delete it.
It takes a lot to remember to do things all the time, whether you write it down or keep it in the back of your mind.
Remember, being reactive helps you get more done.
Stop keeping ‘data to lata’
If an email is going to help grow your business, use it now. Why hold onto for later? Chances are if you leave it, you will be too late as things change quite quickly in most industries.
So, you need to ask yourself that if you needed to or really wanted to, could you get hold of this email again? Could you re-sign up to a list? Could you get it from someone else? If yes, delete!
Turn off all notifications
You don’t need them. They only distract you and change your thought process. After all, you want to be in control of when you deal with your emails.
I would also suggest doing this for your social media accounts!
Create rules and templates
This is a must if you want to keep your inbox at zero.
Create rules for the places you often buy from. For example, automatically get all emails from Amazon sent to a specific folder.
Create templates for emails you send regularly and create a signature so you can just select it and send rather than typing out a brand new email each time.
This is super simple to do and will free up a load of time!
Set strict rules with your clients
You need to set some boundaries or ‘rules of engagement’ when you first start working with your clients. Explain to them that you answer emails at set times and not 24/7, and in case of emergency, give them another way to contact you. However, make sure you give them the justifications of an emergency.
The rules are up to you but I would suggest they give you as much notice as possible for changes. Ask for short and sweet emails and if it’s longer than a paragraph, schedule a call. You could also open a VIP email for your clients that only they have access to.
If you set a precedent that as soon as an email comes through you answer it right away, they’ll come to expect this in the future. Set the rules early and let them know when you can and can’t be contacted.
Start implementing these steps today and get your inbox at zero. Having a clutter-free inbox equals having a clutter-free mind!
You probably wanted more freedom and time for the things you love. You wanted to be in charge. You wanted to have more time to spend with family and doing the things you love.
When it comes to running a business you want to be able to get a lot done in a short amount of time.
Today, I want to share with you how I do this and how you can do it too.
But first, think about the time you’re wasting
It’s a lot, isn’t it! When you consider the 80/20 rule (i.e. 80% of what you’re doing doesn’t bring in income!) it’s easy to see how many hours you’re wasting each and every day.
So, what can you do about this?
The answer is: systems!
Systems are the only way to create freedom in a business. Yes, it will take time and effort to create them but it’s worth it!
How can systems help you in the long-run?
Once you have systems in place for each area of your business it’s easy show to others how to reach your standard if you ever need to take a step back.
Outsourcing the tasks that you are not the best at will free you up to do the more important activities in your business. In order words, there’s a step-by-step process for completing each and every task, so you and the people you work with will know exactly what to do.
However, before you decide to outsource, you need to create your systems!
Take a look at the systems I use in my business and see how you can implement them in yours.
Take a look at your finances before you look at outsourcing. Will outsourcing allow you to bring in more clients and more money?
2. Content Repurposing
Having a system for your content is a fantastic way to get the most out of a particular piece of content all whilst saving time. Create a system for your content that your virtual assistant (or other freelancer) can easily follow. You can create it and then have your VA run with it. Their role can involve repurposing it into different forms. For example, with one piece of content you can create blogs, Facebook Lives, videos, tweets, and social media images.
Create a system for your content that your virtual assistant (or another freelancer) can easily follow. You can create it and then have your VA run with it. Their role can involve repurposing it into different forms. For example, with one piece of content you can create blogs, Facebook Lives, videos, tweets, and social media images.
Their role can involve repurposing it into different forms. For example, with one piece of content you can create blogs, Facebook Lives, videos, tweets, and social media images.
3. Sales and Marketing
Have a steady stream of leads coming in through your sales funnel. Do this by creating leads through ads, social media and more, and nurture them by creating great content, engagement and becoming their ‘go-to’ person.
4. Upsells and Cross-Sells
If some is already your customer, then they are more likely to buy from you again. This is something that can be automated through email marketing. If they like and trust your services or products, they’re going to want to come back to you again.
There’s no point in trying to get new clients if you can’t keep a hold on your current ones! How can you do this? Give them great customer service and ask for feedback! Try to provide as much value to them as possible and have a system in place for keeping the lines of communication open.
If a client has left you previously because of a change in circumstances, then they are the easiest way to get a sale. Reaching out to them will show them they are appreciated. They’ve worked with you before and will likely spend more than the average client!
7. Build and Engage your Audience
Build and nurture your platforms so you can expand your reach and scale your audience so you’re growing your business. Provide value to your audience so that you can position yourself as an expert. Remember, people will buy based on your reputation!
You should have SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) in your business so that your VAs will know what to refer to when they have to do a particular task.
9. Client Onboarding and Offboarding
Use systems and workflows to deliver what you promised to your clients. Follow the same process with each to ensure you cover everything that needs to be covered.
Give great customer service so they won’t want to leave you and if they do decide to leave try to find out why. This is probably something that you can work on further!
10. Get the Best out of Freelancers
Stop trying to do everything!
When you take on a freelancer determine what tasks you want them to do, offer proper training, provide and encourage regular updates and teach them your systems.
Systems keep you consistent in your business and when you do something consistently people will start to notice.
Start developing those systems so you can create freedom and time in your business.
Being lazy isn’t going to make me more productive…
But think about it, if you find the quickest most efficient way to do every task in your business; that will mean you will get more done in less time.
Sounds too good to be true I know.
This morning I was on a deadline to get to the garage. I had to leave the house at 10am. Usually, I would do my main 3 tasks by 11am but I know had an hour to do them.
Do you think I managed it?
You bet your ass I did!
By being 100% focused on the task hand and not taking my time I got everything done that I needed to.
Does that mean usually I am lazy? No. However usually if you allocate yourself 2 hours to do something you will take 2 hours, if you allocate 1 it will take 1 and I just proved it!
Create Your Best Process
For every task I do, I know the outcome and the exact steps needed to complete it. When I am forced to do this quicker I ensure that I do not do anything that is unnecessary or will hold me back.
Small things like having everything I need to complete said task to hand, my checklist to ensure I don’t miss anything when doing it quickly. If it’s good enough for doctors and pilots its good enough for me. You see checklists reduce mistakes check out the book The Checklist and how it is used to save people’s lives. I use it to save time but it’s the same principle.
Get Super Specific
More often than not we put off a task as we are dreading it and do not know exactly what is needed. Another factor can be that it is a big task and it overwhelms you.
The best way to overcome this is to get super specific and break it down. This makes your life easier and means you get some small wins in.
Imagine you have to set up a whole website and you literally have no idea where to start. By breaking down the tasks into smaller manageable tasks you will be able to get started pretty much straight away.
Start with the outcome and reverse engineer the process. When your website is completed and you are 100% happy, what steps would have been made to get you there?
Choose what provide you are going to use WordPress, Wix etc
Buy the domain name
Add the theme
Get Logo created
Set up the hosting
Add relevant pages
Add relevant plug-ins
Create a bank of images of other websites that your client likes
Have professional images taken
Have a copywriter create your sales page
Have your About Page done
List your Services
Have a FAQ page
Create your Lead Generator
Lead Generator Set Up
Pick your email marketing provider (Aweber, Active Campaign etc)
Website linked to Autoresponder
Upload 5 blogs
You get the idea!!
The great thing about doing this is you only have to do it one and you can rinse and repeat in the future.
Feeling overworked and burnt out but still want to serve your clients. Outsource what you can and you will be able to get even more done in less time. People often do not like to outsource work that they have been asked to do. I don’t see a problem with it AS LONG as the person you outsource too follows your systems and procedures.
It’s as if you did the work then, it is also your responsibility to ensure each task is completed to your standards. It will be a learning curve to start with but give feedback to your outsourcer so that they can learn from it.
Sometimes it might mean that the work is actually done better. I am not great at video editing, I can do it buts it’s a total ball ache for me. One of my clients is a Facebook Live machine and has loads of great content to share, so I have outsourced this process to someone that can do it quicker and better than I can.
Win win! The clients get’s their work done to a great standard and I can concentrate on what I am good at.
Workout your Work!
Have you heard of HIIT which stands for High-Intensity Interval Training to get the best out of a workout in the quickest possible time? It means you do focused bursts of exercise to a high intensity but not for too long.
I have used this approach with work for some time. It means that I do a lot more focused work and have regular breaks. When I force myself to work to a timer I remain disciplined to keep to the task at hand and I know there is a break just around the corner. I work flat out for 25 minutes and take a 4 minute break which I used to make a coffee, put the washing on or even just sit in silence.
Working all day till the late hours doesn’t make you any more productive in fact you probably get less done. When our brains are tired and we have been working on something for a long period of time we tend to make mistakes or get side tracked.
Give it a go and let me know what you think!
Stop Multitasking Forever
It used to be a big positive to be able to multitask and spin many plates without getting stressed. I used to put it on my CV as a massive pro but it really is so bad.
When we multitask and switch between tasks SFA gets done. Have you ever tried to catch two rabbits at once? You’re much better off getting one and then the other right?
When you switch between tasks it takes about 20 minutes to get back into your rhythm. Imagine you have 3-4 tasks on the go at once!
By doing many tasks at the same time you are busy all day and don’t achieve anything. So concentrate on completing one brain powered task at a time. That way you will actually achieve something and you will get it done quicker than if you were trying to complete 3 things at once.
There are certain multitasks you can do which are productive. They have to be different types of tasks, so you group passive tasks with lower brain powered tasks.
Here are some examples:
Housework and listening to audible
Cooking and talking to clients
Driving and listening to audible or talking to clients
Going for a walk and catching up with clients or audible
Completing your Duolingo while on the loo!
These are great ways to get more done and not compromise on productivity.
Take a FULL Day Off
Now I have not always followed this as I was always tempted to just log on quickly…
However, I found that taking one full day off per week works wonders. I chose Saturday, it’s perfect as I can spend the day with my daughter and enjoy the fruits of my hard work all week.
By taking the day off I also feel refreshed and it also makes me excited to get back to work on Sunday. Now Sunday is my planning day and I take a half day so I can get organised for the following week. I plan meals, batch cook, iron school uniform etc which actually makes me more productive the following week. It is said for every minute you spend planning you save 10 minutes in implementation!
So by spending just 10 minutes planning my week, I save 100 minutes in execution!
How about those apples?!
I have highlighted a few how being lazy or shall we say more effective can boost your productivity.
Do you agree?
Do you use any of these techniques already or would you like to start one of them?
Perhaps you have a productivity hack that you would like to share with us?
Blogging is a crucial part of your business and the biggest obstacle is usually lack of planning which can lead to ostrich syndrome (aka procrastination).
So if you want to become a regular blogger with minimal stress this 5 step system will make is super simple.
1. Content Ideas
Having lots of ideas to choose from is essential and the first step in our 5 step blogging system.
To get you started, put your timer on your phone and write down as many subjects that your clients ask you about or would be interested in. Keep going until the time goes off. Do it now!
How did you get on? 5, 10, 15 maybe even 20 titles? If you post a blog per week that is at least a few months worth!
Think of FAQs use messages/emails people have asked you can check Facebook groups where your ideal clients are asking questions.
If you are struggling to come up with content creation you can find out more here >>
You need to decide how often you will be blogging. You can then schedule the content in so you know ahead of time what you will be writing about in advance.
There are several ways you can schedule your content. You can use a diary, a piece of paper, a tool like Trello, a spreadsheet or even your Google calendar.
However, you decide to schedule your content you have to be consistent! This is the only way that systems work, you have to implement them otherwise you won’t be able to rely on it.
This makes blogging a piece of cake. If you do your due diligence to research each subject your brain will be jam packed with content for you to share.
You can do this the week before you blog over a few days or you can do the day before you are due to write if you prefer. It depends on the content and whether you need to go more in detail and how good your memory is!
Remember the subjects you are writing about will be within your expertise you are just looking to get a few key points together and give your blog some structure.
I tend to write down the key points which tend to be the subtitles, any relevant statistics or quotes (with reference) and graphic ideas so I can easily get cracking when it’s time to write.
4. Write It
The final step is the hardest one but we have made it as easy as possible by having all of the relevant information to hand.
You will have already researched the blogs content so now you just need to get cracking.
Write your introduction so that the reader knows what you are talking about and what the blog will achieve. Then you break it down making it easily readable, that’s why the key points are so important.
People tend to scan read so by having subtitles people can get the gist of your content and using images that are relevant will help you to engage your audience.
Discuss each the key points in turn and then conclude with a roundup of the blog so that they know the key takeaway points.
5. Perfect It
I suggest doing this at least the day after you wrote the content. If you try to edit it too soon after writing it you will read what you want to rather than what is actually there.
It makes your job easier to edit as you haven’t just written it and you will more likely catch grammatical errors and typos.
A few tips would be to read the blog aloud as you will notice how it will be read by the viewer. Changing the font size also helps engage your brain more so that you don’t scan read it. You can use a tool called Grammarly to help catch any errors.
Add in images and refer to other relevant blogs which your reader may find useful. Once you have perfected the blog and are confident that the blog is finished hit publish and share it to your network.
Key Takeaway Points
Having a content bank full of ideas means you will never have writer’s block and will always have some inspiration.
By scheduling the blogs in you will plan your week accordingly to ensure you have enough time to research, write and edit it.
By researching your topic it will be fresh in your mind and you will be able to find supporting content for your opinions and ideas.
Writing it is probably the hardest part but by following this 5 step system you will find it much easier.
Perfecting the blog at a different time to writing it and planning your time effectively will ensure that your readers get a high-quality blog rather something rushed and thrown together at the last minute.
Why not watch my quick video below which covers my Blogging System
The ROI on email marketing is high than any social media platform. It has the best return for each $1 spent and you own the list rather than renting it.
As you will have noticed in 2016, organic reach is near zero on Facebook as they want you to pay to play. If you are a savvy business owner you will have been utilising social media to get people on to your email list.
By building a relationship with your audience and being consistent you will have created a money-making list. The small businesses that are killing it with email marketing are the ones that learn, test and adapt regularly.
They create an email marketing system that works for them to create and distribute awesome content to their list and keep to their regular routine.
How would you like to create the perfect email marketing system for your business?
I know you are busy and time is money, so without further ado let’s get started.
Create a Habit
We know that business live or die by their daily habits. You have to show up every day to be top of mind and make a difference to people’s lives. If you like money you should be emailing your list at least once per week.
If you don’t have time, in basic terms you need to make time.
You could start with once per week, providing a newsletter or roundup type email that gives the reader the best content from the week. Then you can build up to twice per week up to daily emails.
So how do you create this habit? You time block obviously!
You can create a lot in 30 minutes twice per week once you have your systems in place.
Mondays – Plan content and research topics
Tuesday – Write 2-3 emails
Thursday – Write 2-3 emails
Sunday – Track open and click through rates (monthly)
Create Your Content Hub
As part of your social media systemisation we create a hub of relevant content that you can access quickly and easily at any time. Perhaps you are on the train and an amazing idea comes to you, you have to have a system in place otherwise you may lose the idea forever.
Having a hub where all your ideas, 3rd party content and past articles you will never be short of ideas. You can also use a range of tools to make content curation and creation even easier.
Some tools I use on a bi-weekly basis to see what’s popular are
Buzzsumo – a content discovery tool which shows you the most popular content by topic.
Nuzzle – this tool analyses content that has been shared by your connections on Twitter and Facebook.
Twitter and Facebook Trending – you can easily create popular content using trending topics which are relevant to your audience.
Twitter and Facebook Lists – you can create a newsfeed which is filled with relevant content shared by industry influencers which is highly targeted for your audience.
Your audience doesn’t have to know the themes of the day, its to make your life easier. If I say create a months worth of content ideas you will probably draw a blank.
What if I say create 4 x motivational posts, 4 x tips for your audience, 4 x nuggets of wisdom, 4 x testimonials, 4 round ups of your content and other people’s.
Now that sounds more manageable right?
Analyse Your Numbers
You should know a lot of your business figures off the top of your head. If you don’t you should be able to easily access them.
Do you know how many people subscribe to your list daily, weekly and monthly on average?
Do you know how many people on average unsubscribe on a daily, weekly and monthly basis?
Do you know what your open rate is, your click through rate and how can you improve these?
If you don’t know your numbers you cannot improve on them. Just a 1% increase at each stage can make a big different to your overall bottom line.
If you have no clue where to start with your numbers, don’t fret I used to be like that too. You can only ‘wing’ it for so long though, becoming a proper business owner means knowing your numbers. Once you know what you are looking for it’s very easy!
If you are completely stuck email me at Kelly@kellymariewest.com with the subject line: What are my numbers?
So if you are ready to get serious with your email marketing here are you top takeaway points:
Create your habits for creating, research and scheduling intent