Let's start with a show of hands; if you start the day determined to make it a productive day, but before you know it, it’s lunchtime and you've barely made a dent in the to-do list. What happened?
Well you will be pleased to know you're not alone apart and I trust you didn't actually raise your hand...
It is true that some distractions are more obvious than others. Wouldn't it be great if we understood when we were being distracted and how to prevent being sucked into them?
We can easily recognise when we’re stuck in an internet rabbit hole, but others can be much more Machiavellian. In order for us to take action and start being more productive, we must first, recognise where we actually get stuck…
Email is a vital tool and we wouldn’t get very far without it these days, but it can be the source of endless distractions too — from newsletters you don’t need to sales alerts to endless email chains you could resolve with a quick phone call. It’s not unusual to get caught in email for much longer than expected, taking up valuable time.
In fact, a survey by Adobe found that people in the workplace spend an average of 3 hours per day on their emails, which totals 15 hours per week. At first glance, this might not sound like too much of a problem, as I mentioned, email is how many of us communicate with clients, customers, prospects, vendors, and distributors, to name but a few. However, around half of this time is thought to be spent checking for updates and fielding spam or junk mail, and this “email distraction” is estimated to be costing businesses as much as £6,500 a year in lost productivity. Managing your email is now almost like an extra part-time job that adds little to no extra value to your workday.
The solution here is not to give up email entirely. Try by being more intentional about your use of email and what you receive.
Choose an email schedule
Checking your inbox every 15 minutes is a sure fast way to get distracted. You might think a quick look at your inbox is harmless, but it can disrupt your workflow. Experts have found that on average, it takes around 23 minutes to get back to a task after getting distracted by something else. By switching tasks regularly, you keep interrupting your flow, preventing you from maintaining that focused state of mind where you can do your best work.
Instead of checking your email constantly, choose one or two times of the day to look at your inbox and reply to messages as needed. The “when” isn’t really important — what matters is that you stick to it.
For instance, does checking your email before heading out for the day or first thing in the morning help you plan your day? Or does it stop you from getting started on your tasks as quickly as you’d like? Try one plan for a couple of weeks, and if you don’t find it helpful, change it up.
In my experience, outsourcing the processing of all emails is one the most effective way for to stay on top of your inbox without having to spend too much of your time.
Whilst you still need to reply to some messages, let someone else prioritise them and even reply to some of them. A virtual assistant can organise the emails receive according to the level of priority, and once a day, check the top priority folder and reply to any urgent emails. This stops you from constantly being in your inbox and lets you do more important work in your business.
It’s unlikely your business will completely fall apart if you have to go back and forth between different programs to add information, but it sure takes up precious time you could use for tasks with a greater impact or return on investment. A global study of 10,500 office workers found that knowledge workers waste over 40% of their time on manual digital admin processes, and a Zapier survey also found that 76% of workers spend 1-3 hours per week simply moving data from one place to another.
So, data entry is one of those tasks you’ll want to get off your plate if possible. One of the most popular and common-place options is automation or outsourcing to a virtual Assistant.
Digital clutter can be just as distracting as a messy room. Not only do duplicate files on your computer slow down your computer speed, but they can also slow down your progress. Scrolling through masses of documents in search of a particular item can be a real time-suck. In fact, another global survey of knowledge workers found that the average time spent searching for documents is 4.5 hours per week.
Disorganisation doesn’t just waste time, but it makes it more likely you’ll forget something or miss an important deadline. So how can you make sure your digital space is always tidy?
Fortunately, there is no shortage of apps on the market that can help you. For instance, macOS users can use the productivity app Alfred to make file management and search much simpler, and Duplicate Detective to help you easily track down and delete duplicate files, folders, and programs. Windows users can use DupeGuru to do the same.
While it may only take a second to click “Send”, “Post”, “Publish”, “Upload” or “Tweet”, there is so much more that you need to consider for a successful social media strategy — responding to messages, engaging with users, creating or sourcing content, researching topics, and planning your strategy. What’s more, each social media platform has different audiences and requirements, so you need to tweak your strategy for each platform and execute them differently.
The average time small business owners spend on their social media marketing is 6 hours per week. That’s almost one full day of work you’ll spend on your platforms. It takes so much time to maintain a steady social media presence that it can easily keep you from doing the work you love.
What’s The Bottom Line?
With so many different tasks demanding our attention, it’s easy to get lost in time-wasters that keep us from our most important work without even realising it. While there are plenty of actions you can put in place to spend less time on admin tasks, social media, and fixing errors, these tasks will still eat up time regardless.
Many entrepreneurs choose to delegate these tasks entirely and hire a virtual assistant to take these tasks off their hands and reclaim time to focus on what really matters. You can hire a RAWCorpVA for an hour or 40 hours week -
Our mission is to help busy entrepreneurs and business owners achieve more. We know your time is precious, which is why you won’t need to do any of the heavy lifting.
If you’re ready to do more of the work that matters it's time to start delegating so you can grow. We are happy to discuss your requirements and we are very flexible with our time and resource.
Here at RAW Corporation, our prices start at £35+VAT per hour or you can get a 10 hour bundle for £300 +VAT. In return you could probably get your time-wasting work up to date and feel a huge sense of relief.
From there, you can buy additional bundles or hours to keep on top of the administrative side of your business so you can actually put your energy into seeing paying clients, growing your product range, and making money.
The more hours you buy, the cheaper the hourly cost becomes so you can control exactly how much you are paying and plan ahead for your business.