Do you struggle to get everything you want to get done in a day?
Do you find yourself distracted with things that seem to show up unexpectedly?
These distractions can be phone calls, emails, employee questions, Facebook, YouTube…or whatever other distraction you enjoy on the net that shall remain unnamed. But no matter the reason you’re likely looking back and realizing you simply didn’t get as much done in your day as you had hoped.
This is a very common issue that almost every one of us deals with throughout our days but I am going to try to give you a little help and perspective on this.
After spending years getting caught up in my own distractions I’ve learned to combat this issue with the ‘work smarter and not harder’ approach and it’s this approach that I want to teach you a little about today.
Over the past couple of months I have had the good fortune to connect with a lot of great people in the SEO Cheat Guides community and I’ve learned that a common struggle seems to be finding a way to manage all the competing demands on our time (client work, continuing education, leads generation, family, friends, hopefully some exercise and then all the other demands life puts on us). The KEY to relieving the pressure on yourself is to ensure you stay organized and focused.
Now, at this point you’re likely saying something to the effect of “No sh*t Stuart. That’s not really all that ground-breaking” …and you’d be right. The real important nugget of information is in knowing HOW to stay organized and focused on your priorities.
I’m going to share with you MY system in the hopes that you can take it and adapt it to something that makes sense for you.
I’m going to start by sharing how I approach my overall goals and then how I’ve adapted that for my business. I have always broken them down into three major categories.
I use Stephen Coveys concept of start with the end in mind and I try to envision 12 months forward and what would make it an amazing year.
So for family I may think of vacations I want to take with my wife and kids, others I want to take just with my wife, experiences I want my kids to have, special moments, etc.
I’m sure you get the picture. I then break my goals down into quarterly goals by asking myself what I want to reach for in that quarter. I then divide the first quarter into monthly goals using the same approach and finally I divide the first month into weekly goals.
I find by doing this process at the beginning of the year I can actually design the outline for an amazing year and it becomes MUCH easier to achieve it (no joke…I wouldn’t have believed it until I tried it).
I do the exact same process for both my business and personal goals in terms of yearly goals being broken down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily task/goals. It really doesn’t take that much time but the focus it provides me is worth its weight in gold. It keeps me focused on working toward the overall vision I have for the year and allows me to accomplish it more easily.
By continually reviewing my weekly/daily goals I find I am less distracted by the common affliction that most entrepreneurs suffer from. You know it…it is the “shiny object syndrome”.
At this point you might be wondering what this has to do with running a digital marketing business and the answer is simple. I’ve taken this same process and adjusted it for the goals I have for my digital agency. I saw the benefits the approach had for my life goals so there was no reason it wouldn’t work for my SEO agency with a little adaptation.
You should know that I don’t pretend to be an organized project manager type person. Luckily I have employees who are much more organized than I am and I depend on them to keep things “in order” using this system.
So let’s run through how we set this up in our company and used it to scale up so quickly.
Here are some major categories we have objectives set up for:
Clients – Each client has quarterly goals that are derived from delivering ROI (return on investment) to the client. We then reverse engineer it down to the monthly and weekly tasks required to accomplish our deliverables. These tasks are then assigned to employees or VA’s with due dates. They are tracked and reviewed daily by our operations manager (or yourself in a smaller business). This ensures both accountability and organization.
PBN Setup – Based on the client’s needs we pull together quarterly goals for the number of new PBN’s we want to have and number of links we require for each. This is then reverse engineered to establish monthly and weekly tasks. These tasks will include finding, buying, setting up, posting content, building links, social profiles, driving traffic through to money sites, etc. These tasks are then assigned to employees or VA’s and given a due date and are tracked by our operations manager to ensure everything is completed on time.
Billing / Reporting – This group is repeated monthly but continually look to improve our system. We have a checklist of activities that must happen for all clients every month. The reporting is built by a VA (we have our full training both in screen cast and cheat guides so it is easier for her).
I won’t bore you by going through all of our categories but I’m sure you are starting to get the picture.
The benefit to putting in all this front end work is obvious after only a short time. Personally, my involvement at this point is much more strategic than tactical (meaning I don’t really get involved in doing the day-to-day tasks. It has become more oversight of the strategic plan and how we will add value to our clients over the quarter).
In order to ensure we add that value to the client the VERY FIRST thing we do for any new business or any client is to take the time to set up our quarterly objectives and break them down into monthly and weekly tasks. This allows me to ensure we have a step-by-step plan to meet our objectives and reference points to measure ourselves against every step of the way.
Another key to this whole process for us is that we simplify our lives dramatically by sticking to only a few business niches. This allows us to use many of the same approaches, refine our knowledge of what needs to be done and then use that to drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to service these clients. Since many of the individual tasks within a single niche are the same we are able to save a considerable amount of time and money for our clients by using this approach.
Are you beginning to see how this process allows me to scale everything quickly?
The benefit of using this process is it eliminates any question about what you or your team should be focusing on to achieve your quarterly objectives. Everyone is on the same page (or where you are by yourself it will give you laser like focus on the tasks at hand).
The investment of time up front and the weekly and monthly planning process pay huge dividends as everyone is aligned on the quarterly and yearly goals. Tasks are assigned and delivered and move us forward toward our strategic objectives.
To further help you along I am going to provide a little perspective here. Think of all these tasks as being ‘cookie cutter.’ The more you break down your daily tasks into their repeatable parts the more you’ll realize that none of this is rocket science it’s all organization. This is also what has allowed me to delegate so many of my tasks to others. I have broken down the tasks into repeatable sections that I simply provide a master set of instructions for.
I certainly consider this the ‘secret’ to my success in building multiple businesses.
I’m going to continue a little bit further here and try and share how this approach lets me spend more time focused on strategically growing my business, rather than working in my business.
- Each client gets his/her own calendar of deliverables and goals
- Depending on what a client has engaged us to do we have a pre-defined set of goals and deliverables…and because I am averse to ‘work’ I set up that schedule once and can use the same one for all clients who engage us to perform specific tasks for them
- I then add that client to our client list including the schedule of deliverables and roll that into the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly goals
- This is also where I assign those repeatable tasks to employees, and assign due dates (i.e. you know who owes you what and when they are to get it to you).
- Once it is rolled into the master planner I have defined EVERYTHING my business needs to accomplish, who is to accomplish it and when it is to be done.
For those of you thinking it…NO you don’t need to be an agency of any kind to set things up this way! I have done this from customer #1 in every business because it allows me to control the growth, plan resources and provide value to the customer in a simple, easy and effective manner.
Even now with as many clients as we service, this process takes me only 30-45 minutes every Sunday night and it provides me with the comfort and ease of knowing what to expect each week. Since it is a living and breathing document I am constantly adding and removing from it but I always know what I need to achieve and can foresee where we might run into issues.
If you are wondering where I track all this information and how I keep it all-straight you might be surprised. While there are a million different options out there I personally use Trello and create boards for each of the areas I have broken down.
All of my boards have been set-up to ensure all the tasks contained in them are as ‘cookie-cutter’ as possible.
Simple is scalable and complex is not. So if you want to grow you have to keep things simple and repeatable.
You can also click here to grab a copy of our guide on how to set-up a Trello board. You can start planning your own success right now! I have faith that you’ll be able to use this approach and grow your own business more than you ever thought possible.
Just stay organized and focused on your goals!!
I hope you enjoyed this post, and I would love to hear how you stay organized using Trello or other platforms. Please post a comment below and share your process.
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