September: Back to business, not back to busy-ness.

With the Labor Day weekend behind us, the carefree days of summer are gone once again.

Oh. Who am I kidding? When you own a small business, there are no real carefree days. (How is it that our kids “busy” makes us so busy? That just doesn’t seem fair.)

The business world has a cycle to it; and for most of us, the pace does slow during the summer months. Then September rolls around and it’s like everyone suddenly wakes up and remembers that they have businesses to run.

This is welcome news if you have been feeling your business slide into a bit of summer slump. But an abrupt surge in business can be just as anxiety inducing as an abrupt slump in sales, if you don’t have a plan for handling the new workflow.

Before the panic sets in, let’s talk strategy for handling the busyness:

 Take time to plan and stick to the plan

You just landed a big client. Congrats! Now what? There are no shortcuts when it comes to taking the appropriate amount of time to plan out the steps needed to finish a new project. So make sure to take as much time as needed in the early stages. Talk with everyone who will have a hand in the project and get a sense of how much time it will take each person to complete her piece of the puzzle. Also consider the order in which each part needs to happen. Then manage the whole project accordingly.

Proper planning is especially crucial when it comes to new projects, but having the right plan in place is just as important when it comes to checking routine projects off of your to-do list. If you don’t plan out these routine jobs, you risk losing them in the busy shuffle. The difference here, though, is that you can likely save time by planning further in advance.

For example, at Spring Insight, we have optimized our blogging and social media calendar. We roughly plot out topics for the whole month in our marketing meeting at the end of the previous month. We check-in weekly, but this monthly plan makes most of our weekly meetings fairly short (30 minutes or so) leaving ample time during the week for productivity.

What the experts suggest:

When it comes to planning out each workday, consider your priorities carefully. Make a list of the two or three tasks that are the most important to complete and require the most focus. Do these first, whenever possible. Once you’ve completed these tasks, your day already feels like a success. Then you can move on to the less critical tasks, such as routine meetings, or push them to the next day.

Delegate and outsource more often

The best way to handle an uptick in demand for your business is to make sure your company is operating as efficiently as possible. Ideally, this means that each person is spending her time on actions that she is best suited to perform. Streamlining your business in this way is easier said than done of course, but it is a good idea to at least consider where some shuffling of responsibilities could occur.

Of course, you don’t want to overwhelm your employees, but if someone on your staff has expressed interest in learning something new or taking on additional responsibilities, take her up on her offer. Don’t let the additional time for training and ironing out logistics stop you from taking advantage if what will eventually free up your time to put toward business development.

Don’t have anyone within your organization who can reasonably help out? Many tasks from recruiting and hiring new staff (my personal stamp of approval goes to TalentFront) to marketing and website strategy can be outsourced for reasonable rates. Now, if only you could find a reliable company like Spring Insight to help you with marketing and website strategy.

What the experts suggest:

Chances are you will spend time today doing projects and tasks that someone else could take off your plate.  At the end of the day, try writing down two things you did that someone else could have done for you. The next day, delegate those things. 

Feel less busy

It seems like pop-psychology—because it is—but a good part of what it means to be less busy is simply finding ways to feel less busy. If you are feeling stressed or anxious, one quick fix is to change your work environment. Changing scenery by getting out of the office for a couple of hours and heading to your favorite coffee shop or even a public park can do wonders for your state of mind.

Additionally, keep in mind that we are really good at filling up our time. If you give yourself two weeks to complete a presentation, it will take you two weeks. If you give yourself two days, it will take you two days. I’m not suggesting that you should wait until the last minute to prepare for that presentation. Be realistic. But also make sure you’re not hiding from tasks you really need to do by allowing yourself to be distracted by details that don’t really matter. It’s all about having the right perspective.

What the experts suggest:

Stop talking about being busy. There’s a big difference between being busy and being productive. It’s wonderful to be proud of your accomplishments. Filling up your waking hours is not an accomplishment. Instead of talking about how busy you are and reinforcing how overwhelmed you feel, recalibrate by talking about your accomplishments.

If you are strategic and follow the above tips, the busyness will pass and you’ll be left with a strong customer base to carry you through the next few months and into the New Year. With a little planning, delegation, and perspective, you will be ready to ride this new wave of business. If you are aren’t quite there yet, contact Spring Insight and let’s talk about how our team can help you market your business, so you can concentrate on being awesome at what you do.

How do you deal with getting back to busy?

 Let me know in the comments, or on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.