eCommerce Made Easy

Maximizing Your E-Commerce Productivity: A Comprehensive Guide to Boosting Efficiency and Achieving Success

October 17, 2023 Carrie Saunders Episode 25
eCommerce Made Easy
Maximizing Your E-Commerce Productivity: A Comprehensive Guide to Boosting Efficiency and Achieving Success
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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

It happens to us all: one small distraction can change the course of your productivity for the rest of the day, causing tasks to fall behind and affect the rest of the week! How can you get yourself back on track?

Join me, Carrie Saunders, as we dive into maximizing your efficiency in an e-commerce environment. As a business owner, I have both tasks, employees, and clients that I need to juggle throughout my workweek. In this podcast, I am going to share with you my go-to strategies to stay on task not only for today, but for the whole year!

From setting goals to organizing your tasks, these proven methods will help you stay on track and effectively use your time, even the times when your brain is fried! Tune in to set yourself up for a positive, focused work routine!

Find out more information about the Business Visibility Made Easy Course at www.ecommercemadeeasypodcast.com/bvme

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Speaker 1:

As an online business owner and entrepreneur of over 20 years, I have continually struggled with getting the right things done, not getting distracted by getting pulled here and there. Sometimes I'm successful and sometimes I'm not. We all go through these stages. So in this episode, I'm going to talk you through some of the things that actually do work really well for me for staying on task and on track in my business and making sure that I'm not getting pulled in many different directions. And when I follow these tactics, I find I have a much more productive day, weeks and months, and whenever I fall off the bandwagon on some of these things, I really get kind of off the rails and I'm not nearly getting as many things done as I need to and I'm not pushing things forward like I want. So hopefully this episode will resonate with you and you'll pull out some gleams of tactics, of what you can use in your online business as either an entrepreneur or a solopreneur or however many people you may have on your team, and really narrow down and get down to the gritty and get the things done that you really need to have movement in your business. Welcome to the Ecommerce Made Easy podcast. I'm your host, kiri Saunders, when we started this business, all I had was a couch, a laptop and a nine month old my main goal To help others. Now, with over 20 years in the Ecommerce building industry and even more than that in web development, I have seen a lot. I love breaking down the hard tech and to easily understandable bits to help others be successful in their online business. Whether you're a seasoned Ecommerce veteran or just starting out, you've come to the right place, so sit back, relax and let's dive into the world of Ecommerce together.

Speaker 1:

Welcome back to this week's episode of Ecommerce Made Easy. I'm your host, kiri Saunders, as usual, and today we're talking business strategies on how we can stay focused as either the business owner, the entrepreneur or maybe the website manager, because many times, we get pulled in so many different directions when you're in this and it's just so easy to get distracted. Okay, so let's first get started by. Hopefully, you've already gone through and set clear priorities and goals for your business or the subsection of the business that you handle, so this is something that I encourage you to do, not just once a year, but I encourage you to do this quarterly. It's really important to do this more often than once a year because psychologically, in our minds, a year is really far away. When an actuality, when you really think about it, it's really not that far away. But our minds will put things off and we'll let things slide when we think of getting things done across a 12 month period.

Speaker 1:

I find whenever you do like the 12 week year I don't know if you've ever read that book highly recommend it. It is a great productivity book. But they talk about the 12 week year or doing things on a quarterly basis. So I highly recommend you go through your priorities and your goals, whether they're revenue goals, actionable items you want to get accomplished in your business or whatnot. I recommend you doing this quarterly. So I recommend you have that quarterly review.

Speaker 1:

Now you may want to do a yearly review too, where you kind of lay out what you might want to be doing in each of the quarters. But every quarter you really need to be seeing where you've come from, what you've gotten accomplished, where you want to go in the next quarter. Make sure you're hitting the revenue targets, the number of customers on your website targets or whatever metrics you are measuring. Take a look at those every single quarter. Now, obviously, sometimes these metrics we need to look at more often than every quarter, but at minimum we need to be looking at our goals and our priorities every single quarter. Now, once we do that, we're going to want to break that into monthly goals as well as weekly goals. We kind of just want to break these steps down so we can help hit that target at the end of the quarter, and if we do this every quarter, we're going to hit our yearly targets too.

Speaker 1:

It's something that seems kind of obvious, but you need to schedule this on your calendar or it won't happen. I know I've had it happen where I've not scheduled on my calendar and I've not let it happen. Or I've scheduled on my calendar and be like oh, I can't, I'm a little busy today, I'll do it next week. Now you need to stick with these reviews. Promise you, it's going to make a huge difference in your productivity, whether you're the business owner or not and you just help run a section of it. You are going to get a lot more done and be a lot more productive if you set these calendar dates and really stick with it. Okay, so once you've got your high level planning done which is super important we really need to make sure we're controlling our day to day activities and our weekly activities too, to make sure we are making progress on those goals. So some of the tactics that I use is I have a planner that I write in, as well as a digital system too, so you're gonna wanna figure out what works best for you.

Speaker 1:

I have found in talking with other business owners that typically a hybrid system like that, where you have something that's a written system as well as an online system, is best, because we all know that we won't create tasks and things like that in our online systems. Until we really write those tasks down on paper, they don't become as real. Now why do we need the online system then? Well, many times we have a lot of things we need to really capture, things that we want to do, and sometimes we wanna just be able to delegate those things, but we still need them captured first, and it's a little easier to move things around whenever it's digital versus written, because then you feel like you're spending a lot of time handwriting and rewriting things and moving things around. So, whenever we do the hybrid system and what I found works best for me is really brain dumping into the online system, taking that, reviewing it and pulling out my most important tasks from there, and then regularly reviewing all the tasks that I have and either deciding is this still worth doing? Do I just need to delete it? Do I need to delegate it? Is it worth doing, but it's not really in my wheelhouse and another staff member would be much better and more efficient at doing it, or is it something that I really need to do myself. So really try to keep that in mind.

Speaker 1:

Also, when you're doing a task system, especially an online one, I encourage you to categorize your tasks. For me, I like to do more administrative I would call it type task on Mondays and on Fridays. Those are my days where I'm trying to set up the week. So on Monday, I will be trying to set up the week and then on Friday I'll be evaluating what I didn't then get done to help me set up the next week, and we'll talk a little bit more about that here in a little bit. So when you categorize your task, whether you want to do the getting things done method and categorize it based upon your energy and where you might be located. So obviously you don't want your grocery list at the office, because when you go to the grocery store it's at the office, right. So you need to be thinking about what tasks can I bundle together that are similar tasks or location specific tasks, so that can really help you get things done. So say, you're a mom like I am and you're waiting for your kid to get done with an activity, and you're waiting in the car for 15, 20 minutes who knows how long and you have your phone with you. Well, having your task on an online system is a great way to knock out some of those quick tasks that you know won't take you too long but are still important to get done. And as long as you have them categorized and easy to find, well, then you can knock those out while you're waiting for your child to get done with their activity.

Speaker 1:

Another thing that I really like to do and this is really what's honed down into getting things really done is I always try to plan the next day at the end of my day. So I try to plan for my top three activities that I need to get accomplished on Tuesday. I plan those Monday late in the afternoon. Many times we all have that slump in the day where our minds still want to work or need to work, but they're not quite as fresh and you need to be doing kind of more administrative tasks. That's a perfect time to plan for your next day. It's also a perfect time to go through email or do some menial tasks like that that really they kind of need to get done, but they're not going to produce the most effort and profit in your business, but they still are things you need to get done. So grouping those together during your non-peak work time is very ideal.

Speaker 1:

Something I just recently started doing is I had this habit of all these years of checking my email first thing when I get to work and try to find what are the most important things I need to be doing today, et cetera. And even if I'd already planned out my next day, I was checking my email first thing, and that is such a huge rabbit hole, as I'm sure you understand. So I'm sure you've been on those shoes too. So what I've tried doing these past few weeks is a scheduling time right before lunch for my email work. Now what that's done for me is let me use my fresh brain first thing in the morning to really tackle those top three tasks that I planned out the previous day and start working on them right away. And to help me, like, stop checking my email, I've been purposely leaving my email open on a specific like folder that I know is not getting new email on it. I know it's in that folder. That way I don't even even if I automatically click on the email button icon, I'm not looking at my inbox.

Speaker 1:

Now some of you might say, well, why don't you just close your inbox or your email client? Well, for me personally, I don't have to log back into it when I am ready to start doing my email and I do want it available whenever I really, really, really actually need it. And if you know me, I'm kind of one that likes to leave stuff open on my computer, so I don't have to, like, go find it or log in, or, yeah, I need to do a little bit better at task, at tab management, I can tell you that and my staff can certainly tell you that. But I do like to have my email client open for when it is time to do it. So, choose what works better for you. If you have to close that email client, if you can be more disciplined well, not really more disciplined, but if you can be disciplined, how about that and just leave it open to a specific folder and that works for you? Do it Now. I am in the process of doing this the past few weeks, so if I have to, I'm going to just start closing my email client, but I do plan to check it right before lunch and at the end of the workday. So those are the two times that I have found over the many years that my brains last fresh. It's time to eat, right, it's time to take a break, and so doing the email right then is great time.

Speaker 1:

And speaking of email, let's talk about email for a bit, because you're probably like me. You probably get quite a bit of email every single day. So how do I manage the email Now? Email can get really overwhelming. There are some times that I'm so busy that I will have and this might sound like a low number to some of you, because some of you don't even process your inbox, but I like to process my inbox Sometimes I'll have upwards of four or five hundred emails in my inbox. I really really like to keep that ideally below a hundred and below two hundreds really my goal if I'm in a really busy season of the business. So how do I do that? So one of the things I can do is if I get behind on my email which can happen if I'm going to like a seminar or I'm building up something brand new for our business I might get really behind on my email. So how I accomplish really tackling that large number of email is I will sort my email by sender. What that can do is it can help you really focus your brain and your mind on what kind of conversations do I have with a specific person and you can then more easily figure out if you need to delete, delegate or file that email or respond to it.

Speaker 1:

What I recommend when you're doing this really getting your email from a very large number down to small is also only deal with those emails that are less than two minutes to do or to delete or to delegate. This is taught by David Allen and getting things done is, when you're processing your email, do the less than two minute ones first and then schedule time when you're coming back and doing the ones that are going to take more time and more thought. So when I'm trying to catch up on my email, I will sort by sender and then I do the two minute rule. I delete it, delete it, delete it, delegate it, etc. And I do everything that can take two minutes or less. And let me tell you, I can blow out hundreds of emails in a matter of anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes by doing that method, and it's so satisfying and it makes me feel so much better. So then, once I'm done with that and if I'm actually more on top of my email, I'll do something kind of similar.

Speaker 1:

When I'm doing my twice a day checking of email right before lunch and right before the workday ends is I will first process those that only take about two minutes. If I feel like it, I will sort by sender again, because sometimes I've left over some of the emails that take a little longer time, and then I will go through to the fast ones and then do the slower ones. This can really help you focus. Another thing I can do is I'll use a timer. I literally got some kitchen timers off. You know the big website that a lot of people get things off of and I got kitchen timers and I'll set a timer for 15 minutes. Let me tell you when that timer is running.

Speaker 1:

I blast through email so fast. It gamifies it for me. So find something that can help you gamify it and deal with it, because I know I'm talking a good bit of time here on email, but I just find the email can be such a time sink for us and if you're not doing it effectively, this couldn't really take up, like I said, a lot of your time and you're not going to get the things done that you really need to get done. Ok, so let's jump off of email now and let's go into what do you do during the times where you're not doing your email, that you're going to be doing those deep work items, those three tasks that you set the day before.

Speaker 1:

Now. I recommend getting time blocks. So for me, I have time blocks on Mondays. Mornings is my time block for administrative stuff, where I know I'm doing more of these things. That kind of keeps things turning and keeps the wheels turning. I'm going to be reviewing things that my staff are doing and making sure that they're set up for their week successfully, and I'm just going to be going through administrative tasks.

Speaker 1:

Now on Tuesday, wednesday, thursday are more my creative days. So in the morning on those days I will be doing either content creation for our business. I will be going through new things that we're developing, so I'll be doing some of the more creative and thoughtful things for the business. And then Friday is a bit more of a my middle solenius day, except for Friday afternoon. I do my weekly review. I slate one to two hours every Friday afternoon. Sometimes I'll put it a little earlier in the afternoon. It kind of depends upon how my brains are working for that week. And I go through, I go through all those tasks that I didn't get done for the week. I go through my digital task system, plan out what's really important to get done next week, what's in alignment with my goals, what's going to move the business forward and help my staff continue to be doing their things and moving the business forward as well as myself. So I like to do time blocking for that.

Speaker 1:

Personally, for me, doing phone calls in the morning is disruptive to my brain and how my brain works. So I try to always schedule my phone calls in the afternoon. So really try to look at your brain, how it works and should you be doing your phone calls in the morning or should you be like me and doing them more in the afternoon as a general rule. Now I will make exceptions for clients that can't do a phone call in the afternoon, in our time zone, of course, but my general rule is afternoon phone calls because for me, being an introverted extrovert, which I believe is called an omnivert I can thrive and really be energized by a phone call, or sometimes it really can suck all that creative energy out of me. So I try to really respect how my brain works, and it's a very important thing to do as an online business owner and entrepreneur is really respect how your brain works. So really think about that.

Speaker 1:

When you're time blocking, setting up, when you're going to be doing specific tasks Like I said, for me, weekly reviews work really well. For me, late on Friday. For you it could be Sunday evening before the work day starts. I try to do more family things on Sunday evening. Sometimes I'm recording my podcast on Sunday evening, which I am for this week's episode. So really think about when does your brain work well for specific types of tasks? It's really important to really hone in on that and if you're not sure, here's a tactic I've used before many times actually, and I will regularly do this sometimes is I will take a notebook and I will, literally for the whole week, write down the time and what I'm doing, and every time I switch tasks I will write down the time and what it is I'm doing and then I'll kind of go back and evaluate that. Was that effective? Did it drain me? Was it energizing? So I'll look at these tasks and figure out what worked well, when and what didn't, so that I can shift and pivot and make a better choices the next week.

Speaker 1:

So, as a technical person too, another thing that I have a tendency to do and I know a lot of people do is multitasking. Now, you probably know that they say multitasking is a killer of productivity, and I completely agree with that. Multitasking can really kill your productivity, which is another reason to go back to that time blocking that we talked about. There are some exceptions that I found with multitasking is a good idea. You know, many times I'm downloading a client's site so that we can work on it and there's no point in me like not doing something else why that downloads, right that's. You know, it's just, it's just time that I don't need to sit there and watch it.

Speaker 1:

But you need to also make sure that you're not multitasking and talking to different people, like we have an instant messenger that's in-house, that we use that you know. I need to make sure that I'm focused on specific people's conversations, one at a time, rather than hopping across all my employees at the same time, because then it gets inefficient and you need to load up new information in your head. They say, every time you task switch, it can take 10 to 20 minutes for you to really get back on track. So minimizing your multitasking is super important. We do obviously have to do it sometimes, but really minimizing it and it's something that I've worked through the past, you know, say five to 10 years is really honing myself down into not doing too much multitasking. It's just something my brain normally wants to do. So I have to be very conscious about not multitasking.

Speaker 1:

And then if you're a business owner, like me, you really need to regularly evaluate the tasks you are doing. Is it something you can delegate and teach somebody else to do, even if it takes some more time? If you are the business owner, it's going to save your business time and money If you're doing the things that only you can do and you're delegating the other things to other people, especially if the things you're delegating are not things that are really in your wheelhouse and things that you're not really great at. So really, when you're doing like maybe you do an audit, like I said, where you're writing down the time and you're writing down each task you do all day for like a week would be great. You know, at least a couple of days is good. I find for me a week is good because my days of the week kind of vary on what I'm doing.

Speaker 1:

Really, like, look back at it, think about it. Can I delegate this task or can I automate this task? Sometimes we can just automate the task. Does it drain you? If it drains, you see if there's somebody else that can do it, and then it energizes. There are some tasks that I have done in the past that drain me, but they energize some of my other staff members because that's in their love language and things that they love to do. So really, take a look at it and if you need to have somebody else, look at your list and help you question if this should be your task or not.

Speaker 1:

It's something that's really easy to forget to do as a business owner because you kind of especially if you're started your business on your own and you have morphed over the many years. You kind of get used to doing certain tasks Well. Sometimes I don't want to say you grow out of the task, but you kind of do and somebody else is more appropriate for them to do. Like I said, it's just something that's more in their wheelhouse than something they're better at than you are. So really look at that and then, as we talked about before, make sure you're reviewing and reflecting. I've talked about this a few times already in this podcast episode, but really reviewing and reflecting is super important. It's not a time waste. I used to think that reviewing and reflecting on what I did or didn't do for the week or the month or the quarter was kind of like a waste of my time, but really it's not. It really helps you process what's going on and help you improve it, and I will say that this is a new thing that I've started recently too. When we talk about processing, as I just said, the word process it made me think about it, as I've started journaling.

Speaker 1:

Now, for the past couple of years, I have journaled every day pretty much without doubt every day a one liner of what happened the previous day. So the first thing I do in the morning as I'll journal what happened the previous day, one line Now the past month. What I have done instead actually month and a half now is I've gotten an actual journal from full focus. Full focus is a planner. I love to use a full focus planner. It's actually wonderful. I've used several planners over the years and I think this is the one appropriate for this season of my life and I decided to get their full focus journal.

Speaker 1:

I'm not really one into journaling. It's just kind of not my jam. It's not something I've ever considered to be worth my time. But something was pulling me to do this journaling the past month and a half and I decided to. You know what, if I buy something to journal with, I'm going to be committed to actually doing the journaling. Sometimes we got to buy something to make us do something right. So I have been journaling pretty much without fail every single day. There's been a few days I might have to skip just because of life, but what I'm finding is even it only takes me probably five minutes, maybe less, sometimes maybe 10. But what it is doing is it is helping my brain process the previous day and it's not just a one-liner this time.

Speaker 1:

This journal has prompts and asks you kind of in-depth questions. Some of the questions are the same the other every day, but then at the bottom there's always a brand new style of question and I'm finding it really helps me process and, being in business for almost 21 years now, I think I've been missing processing what happened the previous day, what went well, what didn't. One of the tactics I learned last year in the fall I took a course on time and time management. It was a daily wins. So this person teaches you to write down your three daily wins from the previous day. We need to be focusing on what went well on previous days. It helps build us up. Now. Obviously, we want to pivot and make things better if something didn't go well, but really honing in on what did go well is something that I feel like society doesn't do quite as well as it used to, so being purposeful about writing down your three daily wins. So, even if you decide not to journal, write down your three daily wins from the previous day, it's going to really help set your mindset up for that day.

Speaker 1:

And, speaking of that, it reminds me of I do a morning routine and I evaluate this regularly and have recently changed it. Like I said early in the podcast episode, I started not doing my email first thing in the morning and that was on my daily morning routine for work. For workdays was checking my email. Now I had slated it for only 15 minutes, but that never happened. It was always more than 15 minutes. I would go down some rabbit hole and I wouldn't get to my top three things or I would get to one or two of my top three things for the day. So really bringing out a morning routine that works for you is going to be super important as well.

Speaker 1:

For example, my morning routine includes journaling. It includes reviewing my top three things that I planned out the previous day that I need to get done. It includes daily affirmations, so things that I want to be thinking positively about, that I want to change my neural network in my brain about and I want to be progressing on. So I do daily affirmations as well and I will regularly review those daily affirmations and change them when the season is appropriate for it. So really think about what are the few things in your morning that's going to set up the rest of your day to be successful and you really should be looking at how can I bring more positivity and focus. Those are the things you're going to want to be thinking about when you make your morning routine.

Speaker 1:

So I recommend having a morning routine. Then I also recommend having a close your workday type of routine and an end to your workday type of routine. So mine, for example, is the checking of the email, planning my top three things for the next day. So many times I go hand in hand. Sometimes things come in my email that I might need to pivot on what I'm doing the next day. So that's why I do that late in the day on my workday. And so think about what are those little wrap up things that you need to do at the end of your workday.

Speaker 1:

Maybe it's tidying your work desk. If that's something that's important to you, it's something I probably should do a little bit more of. If anybody's ever seen my workspace, it's, I would say, neat but messy all at the same time, and I'm working on that. But for my brain, I don't quite need it to be perfect. Sometimes I just need things where I need them, and so find your right balance there too.

Speaker 1:

We're all a bit different, okay, so hopefully I talked about a lot of things that I do. I hope this helps glean some inspiration for you. We all have different brains and how they work and what works well for them. So really take some of these little pieces, try them out, see if it works, see what doesn't work and really just bring the whole goal of this is bring more positivity and focus into your workday and you know, planning ahead as well as planning for the now, so you're really going to get all of that balance and down and pat.

Speaker 1:

So hopefully you enjoyed this week's episode of the Ecommerce Made Easy podcast. I know today wasn't really about e-commerce, but as e-commerce owners and online business owners, we need to be making sure that our focus is appropriate and that we're moving the needle on our business and making good progress. So I hope to see you in next week's episode. Be sure to rate us on your favorite podcast app. That really helps us a lot. It helps get our word out so that other people will learn about our podcast and learn all the things that I am helping teach you guys, and if you have any questions at all, feel free to email us at podcast at bcsengineeringcom, and I will see you next week.

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