10 Admin tips to protect your mental sanity
How has your 2018 been so far? Are you frazzled? Every freelancer I’ve spoken to recently say they have been flat out this quarter and they are overwhelmed! In 2015 The Guardian published an article on ‘the disease of being busy’ you can imagine how much more prevalent this with the communication we are surrounded by in 2018. In February, I attended the Digital Marketing Sanity workshop organised by Fascinating Company about digital marketing tips to keep you sane but what about admin tips?
Back in November, I wrote an article for Women in Business about not letting time rule you and how to be more productive. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons in the last 4 months about how to keep sane in an increasingly insanely busy world which I’m hoping will benefit others.
1) 2-minute rule
If you receive an email or message which takes less than 2 minutes to answer, answer it as soon as you see it! That way there is one less thing on your list and you won’t seem so overwhelmed.
2) Have a Strategy
I heard a great quote recently that ‘as a small business owner you should let your clients be your north star’ i.e. that listening to their demands and satisfying them is what guides you in growing your business. If you didn’t start the New Year with a strategy, it’s not too late to start. Plan a content marketing strategy, plan quarterly reviews, plan those tasks you can outsource to a VA like me!
3) Email accounts for different tasks
How many email accounts do you have? Do you have your business email, a personal one and maybe another linked to your phone? I have my business, plus several others for clients and committees I manage To prevent total email overload, I have notifications for just my business account and then I check the others at a specific time of the day or week depending on the frequency of events. Many CRM systems allow you to integrate your emails on one platform so you’re not swapping between applications all the time.
4) Create physical headspace
They say a change of scene is as good as rest and sometimes to be productive or more creative that’s exactly what we need. I’m very lucky that I live in a village with 7 independent coffee shops open and there are also several Coworking spaces nearby. The benefit of a coworking space is that not only do such locations encourage you to be more productive that might also help you expand your business and develop new solutions as you meet new business leads and learn the problems they are encountering.
5) Create mental headspace
According to an article in Lifehacker ‘when you have to-do items constantly floating around in your head or you hear a ping or vibrate every few minutes from your phone, your brain doesn’t get a chance to fully enter creative flow or process experiences’. In order to create that mental space, you have to divide up your tasks, prioritise them and keep things in perspective!
6) Who is your Soundboard?
Lots of my clients will use me as a sounding board if they have a particular business issue because a) I’m also a business owner and b) I know about their business but can see it from a neutral perspective. Having a supportive network of business peers is as important as having a good circle of friends because there are different people you will approach at various times depending on the challenges you are facing.
7) Get yourself a good Accountant!
I spoke at a business start-up event this year and the most frequent question I heard asked was about tracking expenses/mileage. My advice to anyone starting out is to get yourself a good proactive accountant who will give you advice on the optimal way of recording your finances and who will advise on how to integrate your systems as you grow. This is especially important for those selling products so your e-commerce site is talking to your stock inventory system, accountancy package etc. With the imminent arrival of Making Tax Digital getting your accounts in the of cloud rather than in a paper bag is optimal!
8) Limit yourself
The disadvantage of actually liking administrative tasks and organising things when lots of people don’t, is that whatever event you attend and people find out what you do for a living they want you to be on the Committee! Experience has taught me don’t be on more than 2 committees in one year because you will exhaust yourself mentally and start to loathe the thing you had such passion for. This applies to other nerdy people such as those who love numbers and people who are natural leaders and end up as the Chairperson of everything!
9) Hit the pause button
I had a week recently when 4 out of 5 mornings I was at an event at 07:30 and 4 out of 5 evenings, I had an event that I was helping to organise and I promised myself that I would never have another week like it on purpose. My curse is that I’m naturally curious and I love learning new things but sometimes you actually have to PAUSE sit back and ask yourself is this going to benefit my business or me personally in the long term? For mental health purposes, having a night in on the sofa vegging or talking to friends can be very productive!
10) Learn to say No
Lastly but by no means, least learn to say no. I used to work in an environment where burn out was commonplace. I learnt no matter where there are often 3 reasons for this in any combination 1) You are genuinely a very nice person who wants to please everyone and you find it hard to say no 2) organisationally the company you are in as a mess with no idea of real workload its employees are under 3) you live /work in an environment with no support network so you have no-one to give you advice (see points 4,5 and 6!)
In order to succeed in work as in life, we have to find a balance and do things in moderation! If you have spent the last quarter of this year overwhelmed with administrative tasks take 5 mins out of your busy schedule to see how I can help you close a few of those brain tabs and take some Admin Pain Away!