Working for yourself can be very rewarding.
Being your own boss has a number of distinct advantages, including fitting your work around your other commitments, choosing which jobs you really want to do, and reaping the rewards of all your dedication and commitment.
There are some disadvantages, however, such as having to deal with mountains of paperwork. This can get in the way of doing the work you really want to do and is a frustrating distraction.
Much of the administrative work you have to tackle when you’re self-employed is necessary for compliance purposes and helps your business operate smoothly in the long run. Here are a few ways you can reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks so you can improve your productivity.
Organise your day
If you habitually spend time checking your email and social media accounts, you’re probably wasting precious time and interrupting your creative work. Try accessing your accounts once or twice a day, and think of it as opening the post at designated times.
Take a few minutes at the start of your day to create a work schedule. Assess roughly how long certain tasks should take and allocate the time to your schedule. If a job takes longer than anticipated, review your schedule to delete the least important task or move it to another day. In the future, remember to allow more time for the task that overran.
Learn to prioritise
Your “to do” list is undoubtedly a long one. To make sure the important tasks are tackled first, go through each one and tag it as an A, B or C. Go through all the A tasks – most people have lots of them – and number them in order of priority. This helps you to recognise the top priorities that should be tackled sooner rather than later.
If a specific task remains a C for a long period of time, maybe you need to reconsider whether doing it is a good use of your time after all. One way to decide is to consider the three Ds: Do, Delegate or Dump. If it must be done – but not necessarily by you – you need to look at alternative options.
Delegate your administrative tasks
Whether you operate a relatively small organisation or you are a one-woman band, you can make good use of an umbrella company as one way of dealing with some necessary but time-consuming administrative tasks. Also called a personal service company or intermediary, an umbrella company behaves like your employer and deals with all the associated requirements.
This means that the services you supply to clients are through an intermediary and the umbrella company becomes responsible, for example, for paying the correct amount of tax and national insurance on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about it. You can also get more information and help with IR35 and what it involves.
Make the most of technology
If you’re terrified of technology, now is the time to acquaint yourself with how useful it can be. Think of it as a way to access helpful tools rather than something that will take over your life. Aim to familiarise yourself with apps that can be used for email marketing, invoicing, project management and tracking time. Some solutions are also good for customer relationship management and lots of other tasks.
Automate regular tasks
It also helps to set up tools to automate some of your administrative procedures. For example, it is helpful to use apps to remind you of important regular meetings or to update the social media accounts you use for business purposes. You can also set up a number of templates for tasks such as invoices and thank-you letters. Design several different types of proposals or pitches for your work so you can generate new ones quickly and easily, customising them as and when they are needed.
Sync your devices
If you have several electronic devices, such as a smartphone, tablet and laptop, make sure your communications programs are synchronised so you don’t miss out on important messages when you are out and about. This also means that if you deal with an email by phone, you will be able to keep track of your reply on the other devices as well. If you’re still a fan of desktop computers, make sure you include them when syncing your other devices.
There is a great degree of satisfaction that comes from working for yourself, but there is nothing wrong with delegating tasks like administrative work to boost your productivity.