This post is brought to you by QuickBooks Online Payroll.
For the longest time, I was the absolute worst about one specific, admin-related task I need to do each week. After a regular meeting with Rachel, our Social Media Manager, I’m always supposed to send a follow-up document — pretty straightforward. Yet each week, I’d put it off later and later, until Rachel would finally need to remind me (probably too nicely on her end) that she was still waiting several days later. It’s the kind of task that takes me 15 minutes at most, but because it’s so easy to accomplish, I just let myself procrastinate. It’s easy for me to think oh, I’ll just get to that later. But then “later” would get to the point where it was clearly making my own work life harder. I don’t know about you, but the longer I procrastinate on a task, the more worked up I get about the fact that I still haven’t completed it — and the more I procrastinate.
I knew I had to fix this, because it was a needless wrench thrown into my otherwise-relatively-smooth work life. I began scheduling a time for myself to complete the document immediately following each weekly meeting. By simply scheduling a dedicated time for it while it’s still fresh in my mind, I just don’t give myself the option to procrastinate. I’m sure a lot of you have experienced something similar. Though the specific tasks we put off likely differ, we all procrastinate — it’s kind of a big part of being human. And it’s not the only near-universal way you’re probably making your work harder on yourself than it needs to be. That’s why we’ve partnered with Intuit Small Business maker of super-simple solutions to managing your finances like Quickbooks Online Payroll, to highlight some common workweek pain points and how to fix them.
With the help of the rest of the TFD team, here are all the ways you’re making your work harder on yourself than you need to — plus some of our best tips for time management and creating better systems in order to simplify your work life.
1. Letting the Sunday Scaries get to you.
Even if you love your job, it’s totally normal to feel anxious about the week ahead. But you can use that anxious energy to your advantage.
“I tend to get stressed out on Sundays (as many people do) before the work week ahead. A few months ago I started writing out everything that was stressing me out that I knew I needed to get done over the next week and that’s actually made things a lot easier. Adding the due date and when I plan on doing each task is also super helpful. It seems simple but it helps organize my thoughts, thus making my workload less hectic.” – Rachel, Social Media Manager
“Similarly to Rachel, I dedicate a couple of hours each Sunday evening for work. I make sure I go into each Monday morning with a clean inbox, a to-do list, an outfit laid out and my coffee ready, and any other little things that need doing done. I find generally that working a little on Sunday night makes the whole week feel easier, and makes my Mondays relatively light, which helps with my Monday evening ritual of cooking a special dinner for my husband and I (to further ward off what can be a potentially-depressing first day of the workweek).” – Chelsea, CEO & Founder
2. An out-of-control inbox.
Here’s another not-so-obvious, but big way people make their work harder on themselves than they need to: using precious mental energy just to try to remember everyone they need to respond to.
“I set up my gmail so that unread messages are all at the top (rather than dispersed throughout my inbox) which you can learn how to do here. I try to avoid checking any messages until I’m prepared to actually respond or at least sort them into relevant folders (good tips on that here), and then use a plug-in (Mixmax) to set reminders to myself to respond later. They pop back up on the top of my email if I haven’t gotten back by that time. Apparently there’s an old-school, analog way to set reminders for yourself using folders called the Tickler System that I’ve never done but sounds kind of fun!” – Annie, COO & Publisher
3. Trying to take care of tasks you’re not actually trained to handle yourself.
In my previous life as a freelancer, I used to keep track of all my work-related expenses in a spreadsheet. It was really time-consuming, and honestly super easy to forget certain line items. What helped me the most was switching to a software that kept track of my expenses for me.
With QuickBooks Online, business owners can easily stay on top of their finances as their business grows — no matter how complex or overwhelming things get. QuickBooks Online helps small business owners get paid, track their income and expenses, and run their payroll all in one place. The more you can streamline the basic needs of your business, the more time you can spend actually running it.
4. Focusing on distracting or harmful thoughts rather than taking action.
Similar to the Sunday scaries, if you can stop yourself from focusing only on what you haven’t done rather than doing it, you can make your work life a lot easier.
“I also have a mental health strategy that any time I have a really tough day or project ahead of me, I do not allow myself to think about it with any kind of dread or anxiety. I simply power through, moving from each task to the next, without really allowing myself to consider what lies ahead. I find that having that dreading feeling of ‘oh, man, I have this big thing to do or this horrible day tomorrow’ inevitably makes the individual tasks themselves feel more insurmountable and drains my energy. Focusing just on the task at hand and getting to the next step helps me stay positive and get things done quickly. I also make sure there is some kind of reward at the end to look forward to, even if it’s something as simple as a long bubble bath or a good movie.” – Chelsea
5. Having an all-or-nothing approach to your work.
On the other hand, trying to get through a big project or series of tasks all at once can be incredibly draining, so it’s important to give yourself breathing room.
“I have a bad habit of not taking regular breaks, and I do think it makes my work harder than it needs to be. I get so obsessed with finishing things that I don’t stop and take a breather, and while it feels productive at the moment, it’s actually incredibly inefficient. As I start to burn out, so does the quality of my work, and it will take me much longer to complete simple tasks. When I’m good about taking breaks and stepping away from the computer, I’ve found that I’m ultimately much more productive and can look at my work with a “fresh set of eyes,” which makes it easier to complete those tasks.” – Kristin, Managing Editor
6. Trying to do everything yourself.
Any small business owner will tell you the same thing: delegate, delegate, delegate.
“One of the hardest lessons we’ve had to learn as business owners is to delegate — not only to other people in our company, but also to professional services and software. For example, in the earliest days of TFD, ‘payroll’ consisted of handwritten checks mailed by US Post (which we would wait anxiously to reach their recipient days — sometimes weeks — later). We have since evolved and now use a professional payroll system. If you’re looking for a good option, Quickbooks Online Payroll integrates directly with Quickbooks Online accounting, so everything is in one place. I know we’ve only just scratched the surface of what we can utilize Quickbooks for but every time I take the time to learn about what else we can I’m always glad I did.” – Annie
7. Forgetting to write things down.
This one seems so obvious, but it’s so important. Little tasks are so easily forgotten when we don’t set reminders for ourselves.
“I’m a little old fashioned in that I always have a written to-do list for work. I regularly add items to it and check things off as they get accomplished. I find that when I have this in front of me each day I accomplish a lot more and less things slip through the cracks. I need all my tasks written down in one place in order to not overwhelm myself.” – Monica, Sales & Partnerships Manager
Small business owners, in particular, have a unique talent for making their work lives harder than they need to be. If that sounds like you, and you know you spend more time tracking your finances than you should be, definitely check out QuickBooks Online. It’s a one-stop-shop to keep track of everything from payroll to expenses. Get started streamlining your work life today — your future self will thank you!
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