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7 productivity hacks to build a million dollar business

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By Jane Copeland

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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to spend more time working in your zone of genius and less time being bogged down by the daily grind?

Today, I’m sharing 7 productivity hacks to stay organised while running your online business.

These are simple tools and hacks that I’ve developed over the years but wish I’d discovered a lot earlier.

They have helped me to be able to have a high daily output, despite not being a naturally organised person or a particularly fast worker…

1. Team

It’s simple really. The more people I hire, more of my time frees up and overall productivity goes up.

You’ve probably heard people say, “hire before you’re ready”. This is true because when you start to work with a virtual assistant or any new team member, you will need to make time to train them.

New team members will need time (and your effort) to get up to speed, so expect productivity to increase in time – and not initially.

Not sure where to find virtual staff or good freelancers?

Download the Outsourcing Guide for Online Business

2. Talk more

If you’re like me you’re probably doing a LOT of typing most days. The problem is that typing can take up an awful lot of time.

Instead, try doing the following…

Voice memos. If I have to give a long answer or instruction, I record a voice memo. Simply record your voice memo on your iPhone and email it to whomever it’s for, direct from your phone. Too easy!

A fantastic aps that does this and more (think videos and images too), is Voxer.

Voice Composition. Forget typing, compose documents by speaking out loud. You can now go keyboard-free with Google Docs.

This feature, which works on both mobile and desktop allows you to compose documents by simply speaking out loud into your device microphone.

voice typing jpeg

You can also use voice to text on your Mac too.

What I particularly love about these 3 hacks is that you can use them while you’re on the move. I often do my voice memos while I’m driving dropping my son at day-care or driving to the gym.

3. SOPs 

I can honestly say that I hate anything to do with systems and procedures. But boy-oh-boy have they been a game-changer.

SOPs stand for standard operating procedures. I now have SOPs for most tasks within my business. They save me having to explain the same task over and over and also ensure that it’s done correctly.

You would be surprised at how many processes you’re probably doing daily that you could create a system for (even if it’s just you in your business). Creating a SOP is as easy as documenting that process.

It’s simple, if you have to do it more than once write it down. Trust me, the sooner you start to do this the better.

For an in-depth discussion on this topic and to grab some ready made SOP’s, head here.

3. Automation 

I’m not talking about email automation, which I do and teach. Here, I’m referring to automating tasks that would otherwise be done by a person.

I recommend using Zapier for this. Essentially Zapier connects one web app to another and allows you to easily automate repetitive tasks.

Here are two of the many ways I’m using Zapier and automation in my business:

With students. In the past, for my group-coaching program, I have reviewed student’s work before each coaching call. This process is automated using a combination of google docs and folders and zapier.

Two hours before the group coaching call, I’m emailed with what I need to review (including links to student’s folders) and also what questions my students want help with. It works brilliantly.

For late payments. I use Zapier to follow up late payments for purchases done through PayPal. When a payment is late, a “zap” triggers the late payment email follow up process in Infusionsoft and also flags a team member if payment isn’t made within a time frame.

Zapier is simple to use, however you can create some powerful workflows. In fact, the sky is truly the limit with just how many tasks you can actually automate.

5. Easy task organisation

Trello is a project management and collaboration tool that helps organize projects and tasks, amongst yourself and your team.

Here’s what I like about Trello. I’m a visual person and as well as liking the look and feel of Trello’s interface, in once glance  I can see what I need to do as well as what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process.

Here’s how my Trello interface looks…

trello board

Each team member has 3 boards – “To Do”, “In Progress”, “Completed”.

Trello is one of many project management tools out there like Asana, Basecamp and Teamwork. I actually don’t think it’s as powerful as some of the others but it tends to work best for me.  I’m actually using it – unlike the other systems I’ve used for a week and then given up. Give it a go and see what you think.

By the way, I had help initially setting up these processes and automation in my business. If you need help, I recommend reaching out to Vic

6. Prioritise what’s important

Each Friday I break out my upcoming week in 3 categories: work, health and personal.

Under each category I list no more than 3 key activities that are priorities and need to be completed during during the next week.

Note, this isn’t a to-do-list (those tasks are in Trello). These are activities that need to be done in order to move towards my goals. Often these types of activities, the important ones, aren’t urgent – therefore you need to make them urgent.

Here’s how that looked for me this week…

priorities for the week

Without some kind of system to focus on your real priorities you can get caught up with losing sight of the big picture and instead just put out fires and busy daily-grind type work, that needs to be done but mostly doesn’t lead anywhere.

7. #workfromanywhere

Learn how to work from anywhere.

Sadly I don’t mean while your working from that cute villa in France or travelling through Argentina. I mean while your kids are messing up the lounge room or with Ninja Turtles or Dora playing in the background.

One of my colleagues has a four-year-old son like me. She doesn’t work when her son is around because “he’s too distracting”.

I found this surprising because if I waited until I had the ideal environment, I wouldn’t get any work done.

I’ve leant to work in short bursts with distractions and noise. My approach is: I can. I will. End of story.

That said it helps to determine when you work best. How that looks for me is:

9am – 11am                 Organise the child

11am – 2pm                 Productive

2pm onwards               Useless

10pm – 2pm                 On fire

Your productive times and your ideal day will of course be different. Try to set up your day so that you’re working at times when you’re at you’re at your best, whatever that might look like.

Remember, you make the rules. Whatever works best for you is the right way.

And there you have it my top 7 ways to get more done in less time.

What about you? What are your favourite organisation and productivity tools?

Download the Outsourcing Guide for Online Business

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Jane Copeland - to view all of Jane's blog post click here

Jane Copeland is an Australian entrepreneur and head of The Business Made Beautiful Academy – an online business school for women utilising her unique Next Top Coach ™ System. She is also a digital marketing authority, publisher of the award winning blog Copingwithjane.com and author of the book Boardroom to Baby. Jane's obsession with internet marketing and her teachings, have helped many people across the globe to stand out from the crowd and redefine their version of success. Learn more about Jane’s programs here.

  • This is wonderful! I agree about Trello. I LOVE it. I used Podio for a while but it just had way too much going on. I’m visual and trello does it for me. I don’t outsource much (yet) so there aren’t any boards for team members, but I do have a board for each client. They have access to it. They can see where their projects stand, make notes, find links or files they need etc..

    About the four year old… my son just turned four. I started using contractor-grade ear protection. The kind people wear around machinery or at gun ranges. They. Are. Amazing. I don’t use them unless we are in the same room because you can’t hear much at all.

    • Jane Copeland

      Contractor-grade ear protection – I love it! What a great idea. re Trello,I have boards for major projects too, like a launch, and in that way all the steps are there for the next one. I hadn’t thought about using it with clients so thanks for the tip!

  • Tracy Roman

    I’ve definitely been putting out fires and realized yesterday I must be more strategic if I want to have succes. Really great tips. Thank you.

    • Jane Copeland

      It’s easy to do isn’t it Tracy. Pleasure!

  • Danielle

    Jane did you mean that you’re on fire to work from 10pm to 2 AM ? When the baby sleeps right? 🙂 I also have a 4 year old bouncing around at home and for the longest time got so much work done right by his side… now he wants to help me with everything I do so we do more cooking and cleaning and gardening together and I do computer work when he is really really busy doing something else. Otherwise it’s in the am when he is at school. xoxo

    • Jane Copeland

      Yep! That’s exactly what I mean. My son is 4 too and I know what you mean about them wanting to help with everything.

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