Working On vs. In Your Business

Working On vs. In Your Business

What is the Difference?

Working In = Short term projects, regular work processes and day to day operations

Spending all your time here can turn you into a full-time employee. While this is necessary in the start-up phase, in order to be most effective in growing your business you need to transition out of these functions to a leadership role.

Working On = Long term planning, overall strategic planning, growth and value initiatives

You are now overseeing the business, hiring staff, creating new products/services, and building a business that can run without you in the day to day operations.

Ray Silverstein on Entrepreneur.com calls it “doing” (working in) vs. “leading” (working on).

Both are very important. You need to know what is going on in your business in case a key person quits (as mentioned in this  Success.com article). Not so much that you can then take their role on, but so you can hire appropriately with a proper job description and deliverables.


Conclusion 

The goal of a leader is to create a business that runs without you. The employees are motivated and know how to complete their tasks. Your managers have clear directions, goals, and targets to reach. This leaves you to grow the business in new ways, whether that is implementing new strategies, services, products, or helping your team run at higher efficiency. 

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Our Guide to Inbox Zero

Our Guide to Inbox Zero

The initial meaning behind “inbox zero” is because of the brainpower or mental capacity you use towards your e-mail is very minimal. It could mean you have zero e-mails in your inbox, but overall it means you spend less time in your inbox.

Inbox zero was first made popular by Merlin Mann in 2007 during a Google Tech Talk.

Quick Tips:

There is no exact science to this but these general rules should help you get well on your way to Inbox Zero.

  • Turn your e-mail notifications off
  • Create specific folders to quickly organize what is important, urgent or can be delegated
  • Set up time blocks every day for your focused e-mail time

Watch the Video

The video will cover:

  • Ending the “mass CC’ing” in your corporate e-mails.
  • Making sure your e-mail time is intentional.

How does an Executive Assistant (EA) help?

  • 2-3 15 minute checks per day
    • That can go up or down based on your volume
  • Calendar + e-mail management
    • Don’t let appointments and important messages fall through the cracks
  • All folders except urgent + regular
    • Helping you stay focused on the most important e-mails

Did the Webinar Help?

What are you looking to implement?
Do you have any further questions?

Comment below, we would love to hear from you.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Book Recommendations on Inbox Zero:
Inbox Zero: How to Stop Checking Email and Start Finishing It by Ian Charnas
21 Days to Inbox Zero: Control E-Mail by Marshall Hughes
Daily Inbox Zero: 9 Proven Steps to Eliminate Email Overload by S.J. Scott
The Email Warrior: How to Clear Your Inbox and Keep it That Way by Ann Gomez

VEA Testimonial: Flexibility

VEA Testimonial: Flexibility

Jeff Bradshaw, President & CEO of V Strategies, has been working with us for a couple of years.

(VEA) provides us with the flexibility of scaling up or scaling down as needed.

Jeff Bradshaw

As Jeff mentioned, our hours are flexible. We have some of the lowest minimums in our industry at 20 hours per month, If you need us for 50 hours one month, but 20 the next, we scale as needed.

Instead of hiring or delegating full-time staff to various functions, our clients hire us to manage these workloads, such as:

  • E-mail/calendar management
  • Bookkeeping
  • Travel planning
  • Social media management
  • Expense tracking
  • Client follow-ups
  • A/R Follow-up

As well as many more tasks that we do for our clients on a day-to-day basis. If you are looking at strategies to better manage your payroll, you may want to consider talking to us first.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Staying Productive While Working From Home

Working from home is new for a lot of people, which means you are trying to figure it out quickly. I have been working from home for 4 years. In that time, we have had two kids (a now almost 4-year-old and a 3-month-old). I have been through the ringer, so here is advice from me, someone who has seen a lot.

Everything Starts the Night Before

Sunday night is crucial. It can set the tone for the whole week and allow you to go to bed with a clear plan Monday morning. I take a good 15-30 minutes to get prepared – here is what I do:

Sunday night:

  • Create my to-do lists, breaking down each task and goal to accomplish by the end of the week
  • Clear my notifications – E-mails, social media, and Slack notifications so I don’t have to clear a big backlog of junk, and unnecessary messages Monday morning
  • However, I do not respond to clients, staff or colleagues at this time. I don’t want anyone to expect that they can call or e-mail me on the weekend or after hours and get a response

Sunday-Thursday Night:

  • Prepare my clothes & toiletries for the next morning, including laying out my gym clothes to change into first thing
  • Place my books/journal for my morning routine on the table next to my chair
  • Prepare healthy snacks – Veggies, nuts, etc.

The Morning Routine

Starting well in the morning sets your pace for the whole day, I am sure many of us have seen the “Make your Bed” speech from William McRaven a US Navy Admiral.

I have created a morning routine that works for me in this season. If you count all of the morning routines I have created in the last 10 years alone, you would find at least 8-12. It constantly has to change. One season it’s working, another it gets stale. Here is my current morning routine under quarantine:

  • 6:00 – Read, meditate, pray
  • 6:30 – Read a business book
  • 7:00 – Clear notifications (e-mail, social media, Slack)
  • 7:15 – Make Breakfast with my oldest daughter
  • 7:30 – Eat breakfast and play with my kids
  • 8:15 – Get ready for my day, brush teeth, etc.
  • 8:30 – Start working

Due to my structured night-time routine, my mornings are seamless. I am working on being a morning person, but since it is still a battle, I want to make sure my only task is to shut off my alarm, get dressed and sit in a chair.

Three Ways to Stay Productive While Working

As mentioned above, every season looks different for what works and what doesn’t. When it comes to productivity, the first two months this year were tough. In the past week, I have hit my sweet spot of productivity thanks to these three recent finds.

The Mastery Journal

I follow John Lee Dumas (JLD) from Entrepreneurs on Fire. He created a “Mastery Journal” and this week I downloaded the fillable PDF. It has been a game-changer! He focuses on productive hours worked in short bursts. The goal of short bursts of time is to do it completely focused. No e-mail, no phone, no social media. You choose a task you want to accomplish and go 100% at it until your timer goes off. Here are two ways to keep on track.

Egg Timer

Use the ‘Egg Timer’ on-line. This keeps your phone away from you and even turned off if needed. Be careful with the volume on your computer when the egg timer goes off, it usually startles a few choice words out of me.

Stay Focused Extension

Download the ‘Stay Focused’ Chrome extension. I have added websites I waste time on to the extension like Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, & Twitter. I am allowed 10 minutes on those 4 apps during my workday. It keeps me from going down rabbit holes where you expect to be on Twitter for 10 minutes and an hour later you end up finally getting back to work! If you need LinkedIn for your time block, delete it from your list of “blocked sites” the day before.

Finish Well

Finishing well is just as important as starting well. I like to close off my day by again clearing notifications, creating a to-do list for the next day and decompressing. When I used to work full-time, I was a good 15-20 minutes away from home. In that time, I was able to settle my mind and come home without the burden of the workday on me.

Now my transition is down 12 stairs in a few seconds. This is the hardest part for me right now, switching from work mode to family mode. Here is what has worked:

  • Taking 10-15 minutes to myself
  • Closing off my computer
  • Listening to music on my phone
  • Pacing the hallway and setting my intentions for the night eg. play with my kids for 2 hours, cook dinner, ask my wife about her day
  • Playing a game on my phone or scrolling personal social media
  • To end this time, I leave my phone upstairs and head downstairs

None of those things are work-related and not having my phone on me (or even in sight) when I head downstairs helps me relax. The end of day decompressing is something I still need to work on so if you have any tips, please comment below.

Added Resources

Books:

Podcasts

What works for you in this season? What isn’t working? I would love to hear from you.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing, VEA Pros

 
Remote Work Downsides: A Response

Remote Work Downsides: A Response

Rani Molla of Vox.com just wrote a great article titled: “Working from home can make people more productive, just not during a pandemic.” In the article, she talks about the pros and cons of working from home. It is a fantastic article, and we suggest you read through it before continuing on.

Staying Connected

Now that you have read the article, here is our response. First off, the article starts with a study conducted by Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University before this breakout happened. With 50% of employees opting to work from home, however, they still came into the office once a week.

” I think coming in at least one day a week — but typically two or three — gets you connectivity to the workplace, helps with creativity. Most creativity is done in face-to-face environments. It encourages you to be ambitious and motivated. Full-time at home can be pretty miserable. Most people don’t enjoy it, you know, week in week out.”

Nicholas Bloom

Most of us are unable to do that as of this writing. How do you combat that now? Phone calls, face time or Zoom calls are crucial during this time. Especially if you are the only one living in your home. We are built for community and need to stay connected. Here are a few simple steps to take:

  • Check-in daily – whether that is with your boss, colleagues or clients. This will keep you motivated and focused. The term “social distancing” is the wrong term, it should be “physical distancing.” Find ways to stay connected.
  • After hours calls or video calls – Friends, family, mentors or favourite co-workers. Keep your social life going but do not just talk about COVID or work.
Project Lemons-to-Lemonade: Work from Home (WFH) Tips & Strategy

Create Habits

I have four kids and they’re at home, and I’m struggling to get anything done. And it’s not just that, it’s also that motivation and creativity come from being around other people. So I find it hard to be creative and, honestly, find it hard to self-motivate myself if I’m stuck in, you know, one room at home day in and day out.

Nicholas Bloom

This is an area where you need to give yourself grace. Your routines, habits and structure have been flipped on its head. It is a new season, which means things have to change. This change was quick, disruptive and out of left field.

Your previous routines may not work, you may not have a home office or your kids are too young to understand that you being at home doesn’t mean it is time to play, you still have to work. Find a secluded place in your home, set up a desk and make it as comfortable as possible.

Like your routines, your office does not have to be perfect. If it isn’t the most comfortable, schedule in more stretch breaks. If you were never happy with your previous routine, it is a chance to start a new one. You could wake up earlier to have some focused time to your self to read, meditate or exercise. Look for the silver linings, there are plenty there.

Our blog post on “Working Virtually: Best Practices and Tips to Help Companies Successfully Operate in a Virtual Environment” will help with some more practical steps.

Physical & Mental Health

I worry about an explosion of mental health issues. Because you’re isolating people at home all the time and removing them from social interactions, and that’s going to lead to depression. Depression itself generates — it’s not just mental health but physical health tends to do very badly.

Nicholas Bloom

This is the most important part that has been touched on already, but let’s go into depth. I have found that making a commitment to myself helps me stick to it. Here are some commitments you can make:

  • Decide you are going to wake up at __am
  • Your first activity in the morning is meditation
  • You are not allowed to watch TV unless you put in at least 20 minutes for a workout
  • Schedule your month with video calls, you will set 2 per week
  • Find an accountability partner to keep you on track of your above commitments
  • Set a commitment and comment below to let us know what it is

The Most Important Piece

There is tremendous opportunity in this season, 2020 is a forced reset year. Here are a few things you can do, depending on your situation:

Not Working

  • Further your education
  • Focus on your physical health, work out every day
  • If you need to eat better, start studying meal planning and implement it
  • If you find yourself lacking self-worth and confidence, or stuck in fear and worry, start meditating and reaching out to people to talk about it
  • Start a side business, there are plenty of opportunities to build something with little capital
    • Check out YouTube to learn digital marketing, website design, SEO and any other skills you need to launch a successful online business
  • Build your relationships, this is for family or friends, maybe even online dating…literally online dating, have a coffee over zoom or a phone call
  • Build strong habits, waking up early, reading a chapter a day, etc.

Working From Home (WFH)

  • Connect with your co-workers to build stronger relationships
  • Further your education online to round out or strengthen your knowledge
  • Ask your boss for x amount of time per week to work on a side project for the company, Google does this to great success
  • Clear your e-mail inbox
  • Follow up with that client, manager, supplier or colleague you have been meaning to reach out to

Business Owner or Boss

  • Connect with your employees, this is a chance to get to know them better and build strong relationships
  • Build your structures and processes, this will streamline your business saving you time and money
  • Check-in with your clients to see how you can help them with your products, services or connections to grow their business
  • Test new suppliers, vendors or products, shipping is still an essential service so if you have been waiting to trial something new this is the time

Interview with Global News on Working From Home

I will say it again, this is a reset season filled with silver linings. Make sure to comment below with what your commitments are and find an accountability partner to keep you on track. This is just a season and we are committed to becoming stronger in it, we hope you are as well.

Derek Burbidge
Manager of Sales & Marketing at VEA