How to keep all the plates spinning!
I recently asked the good people of Facebook to tell me where they struggle most when it comes to their productivity. One of the themes that arose was how to juggle multiple clients or projects without becoming stressed.
At the time of writing, I’m happily supporting 15 small business owners, so you might say that I have form in this area! I’d like to share four tips that will help you manage your time effectively, so you can give your best whilst keeping one eye on your own sanity!
1) Use your calendar.
Around half my clients are on a monthly retainer where I’ve promised to deliver a fixed number of hours’ support each month. The best way to be absolutely sure I have time to deliver that support? Give each client a weekly slot in my calendar. Think about each client’s individual needs, taking into consideration their own schedules (for me, that’s usually to do with the day on which they want to publish a new blog post or send a newsletter to their clients). Then pop that client in your calendar as a recurring appointment at the same time each week. Make sure you leave some white space in your calendar, though – you’ll see why later!
2) Tell your clients.
I want my clients to understand the way in which I work. It’s reassuring for them to know that I have arranged things in a way that ensures I always have enough time to deliver the support I’ve promised (provided they don't save up all their hours to use in the final week of the month!). So I tell them that I allocate a chunk of time to them each week, but I also make it very clear that this is not set in stone ….
3) Be prepared to be flexible.
It’s all very well and good having each client blocked out in your calendar each week. But what happens when something unexpected comes up? The last thing I want is for clients to feel they can’t contact me about something on a Thursday if their allocated time is on a Tuesday. Sometimes, things come up that need dealing with straight away. Although I can’t always drop everything to come to the rescue when something last minute needs doing, my philosophy is always “If I can help, I will”.
Putting things in your calendar can help you feel in control, but remember that you can’t control everything! Your clients will not always stick to the plan you’ve created for yourself. Accepting that is key! If a client needs something doing that doesn’t fit with your schedule, take a look at your calendar. If other things scheduled for that day aren’t time critical, see if you can move things around a little. If you’ve left some white space in your calendar, this should be fairly straightforward. Of course, it’s important to ensure that you don’t constantly relegate the needs of a less vocal client to prioritise someone who’s more prone to send you last-minute requests. You need to be willing to say ‘I can’t help you with that right now’ from time to time. Clients will understand, particularly if you’ve built a reputation to be helpful whenever you reasonably can.
4) Look after yourself.
It’s important in all of this to ensure that you’re looking after yourself. That means setting time aside to focus on developing your own business as well as scheduling your down time. When you’re in business to help others, these things can easily fall by the wayside. But as one of my clients regularly reminds her clients, you should always put on your own oxygen mask first. Taking proper breaks and giving yourself time-off should be non-negotiable. Make sure that your own energy levels are kept topped up, and juggling those 15 clients will be a piece of cake!
So there you have it! Four tips to help you take back control of your time and to cope better with the things you can't control (namely, other people).
In next week’s blog, I’ll be sharing some more tips to help you stay cool, calm and collected when being pulled in lots of different directions.
Over to you!
Do you find it hard to manage multiple clients or projects? Can you see how these tips might help? Perhaps you have your own suggestions of ways to keep all the plates spinning? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please do add a comment below.
If you know anyone who’s finding it hard to juggle right now, please pass this on!
Do you need help with your productivity? Take a look at how I can help you to get stuff done with less stress and more ease.