Most designers have a one-man or one-woman business and I can totally understand how hard it is to be everywhere and try to cover all missing points to make things move forward.
Due to lack of resources, designers need to handle everything: creation, production, accounting, finance, management, HR, business development, marketing, etc. The question is how to deal with your weak points and multi-task effectively to be on top of everything?
From my own experience, planning is the key to getting everything done. If hiring an assistant or sales or marketing person is impossible at the moment, then you need to plan out the weeks and months ahead, so you know what you are supposed to do each day. Leave some free time for unexpected matters to be resolved, but you should know exactly what you’re going to do today, tomorrow, this week, and next month.
In order to keep you focused and fully energised on one task, don’t plan two tasks during one day. Keep an entire day for one task, don’t read emails and don’t open social media until your planned task is complete. For instance, you’ve decided that Monday will be your collection day and then just before fashion week, you will dedicate an entire week to finishing your collection.
Then, you can devote other days to others tasks, such as marketing on Tuesdays and accounting & HR on Wednesdays, tracking your sales performance and finding partners on Thursdays. Fridays can be about building your web-presence and traffic. Use your weekends for inspirational, cultural experiences, that you can plan on Fridays if the weekend is for the family. Controlling and planning both your work and free time will provide you with confidence that you are building momentum for your company each day, whatever may happen. You are in control and this will help you to know where you are going and what results you expect to achieve.
Don’t be afraid to take your time building this day-to-day assignments plan, it will help you to keep your goals on track and maintain motivation throughout the journey. You will notice your stress levels lowering as a result of knowing where you are going. If you have a Google gmail account or Google Suite account, use the Google Calendar with your professional login to fill in the agenda months ahead so that you receive a reminder on your phone. You will able to connect to it whenever you’re travelling or when you don’t have your laptop with you.
Start your day by viewing your plan first and adjusting it if something unexpected has happened. Most of the time you will try to stick to your plan and work towards the goals you expect to achieve each day.
Keep 100% of your attention on what should be done and by what time you should be finished. Follow your agenda until it’s time to relax, when you plan to go to the gym, spend time with family, or just read an inspirational book. You should schedule downtime into your agenda every day so you know that when the work is done, there’s a reward at the end of it.
Make it a new habit. Let this habit form by adopting it for at least 30 days and you will see how, by the end of the month, it has become routine, natural behaviour and that it’s now become essential to follow your plan.
As soon as you feel comfortable with your financials, think about hiring an assistant for executing tasks that you are not so good at or that have a less significant impact on your business. Don’t delegate important tasks to people with less experience or sensibility than you , otherwise it will weaken your relationships and you will not build a successful business in the way you expect.
How to keep both sides of your business under control: short-term and long-term perspective?
This is exactly the same problem that I was covering earlier. When you are aware that you need to operate on both levels, look after the operational part on a daily basis and still know where you’re going and what goals you want to achieve in five years?
The answer is, in your planning, which you should establish weeks ahead. Keep one day every two or three weeks when you don’t do any daily tasks, but instead only think about what’s next, finding inspirational stories, absorbing information and putting down your thoughts and financial projections of how your business will look two or five years down the line. It’s so important that you keep track of things. Don’t lose control of your future and where you’re going, where you are now and what to expect from your actions. Plan your future, visualize it, and keep it updated during those strategic days, when you are envisaging and projecting figures to make your plan a reality. Organize your folders on your computer in such a way that you can easily find this information and access it when you need it, when the right day has come.
To Sum Up:
- Plan your day-to-day activity months ahead, the further ahead the better. You need to know exactly what to do each day of the week. Remind yourself of your plan for the next day, before you go to bed.
- Make your planning efficient by not diluting your day doing several unrelated tasks, keep it simple and plan one important task a day. For instance, if you are working on a new collection and you know that you need a couple of days for that, book them in your calendar. Don’t open mails or any disturbing applications to distract you from the plan.
- Plan the future. Keep one or several days a month when you don’t do any operational tasks and just work on the long term strategic vision for your brand.
- Allow a 20% contingency margin when planning. Unexpected events do happen so have some spare hours built-in to resolve issues without jeopardizing your plan.
- Keep track of your performance and be aware of what’s holding you back or not making you as efficient as you would like to be. Take note of that and try to see if it is something personal that can be resolved or is it a major weakness that you need help with. If it is the latter, try to hire someone who can help you deal with those areas where you feel stuck and are sabotaging your agenda.
- Keep yourself motivated by preparing your day beforehand, consulting your activity agenda before going to bed and starting your day by reminding yourself what you want to achieve from the day and how efficient it should be.
- Set reminders of the main tasks of the day and keep track of it.
- Reward yourself with planned spare time, which you need for inspiration, your family or just relaxing. Knowing that it is planned will allow your mind to be free from the stress of having to get things done.
- Start your day with 20 minutes of meditation to keep you focused on your agenda and end the day by reminding yourself where you want to be in several years.
- Start working at the same time each day and do the most important task of the day first. For instance, if you have decided that one hour a day will be for Instagram management, start your day with this. Once you have finished, get to the task of the day, make it a habit.
- Cut out distractions. Never start your day with personal social media consultation or reading emails from others. By doing this, you are essentially fulfilling someone else’s agenda, not yours. Because your time is limited, you won’t even notice how you spent hours reading emails from other people and contributing to their posts, ultimately benefiting their goals and not yours.