When things were overwhelming and feeling out of control, I wanted to find simple tools to save time, make things easier. I always struggled with responsibility of deadlines and all things that would take me away from my happy place. When I had paperwork that was due to be done, I would feel heavy, lethargic and listless. Over the years, I slowly delegated what could be delegated and let go of the things that weren’t so important to focus on paperwork that was important.
I decided to let all that stuff go; I couldn’t fit everything in. The biggest surprise was nobody even noticed! I spent years doing unnecessary paperwork. This gave me time to focus on the store in other ways, and—above all else—being a mum.
There are so many different duties that are linked with paperwork, I am forever searching for ways to make some of these quicker or easier to do.
Paying wages has changed significantly over the years. Today, wage programs on the market make it much easier. Using these programs for up to eighty staff can be done in just over an hour.
Rostering/scheduling are super important to your business. Take time with these, as they will improve your sales and save you money. I have always put extra care into rosters.
Availability amongst staff is hard to control. There are some great rostering systems online. Just Google them, they’re worth your time, and most have a free trial period.
Every time you hire new staff, it creates a lot of paperwork. I developed my own step-by-step process for hiring and employing a group of staff, it works well and saves a huge amount of time.
We report weekly takings and monthly profit and loss to our franchisor. This helps them know we are not getting into financial problems.
Today, this is all online and sales figures are sent through directly.
I have offloaded the majority of our tax association to our accountant. This lifted my worry significantly! I actually felt lighter when we did this.
Accounts are usually due in 30 days. Instead of looking at these every day, I decided to look at accounts the first Tuesday of the month. This was just a small step, but it freed my mind of looking at bills every day, and it took away stress. A small step in the right direction.
I knew the important payments were automatically set up to come out of our bank accounts and others could be paid on the day I set aside each month.
There are four processes I use when it comes to paperwork:
1. Automation: If it is something that has to be paid each time of the month, week, year, then set up your bank accounts to have it automatically deducted.
Companies set up electronic funds transfers from your bank account or direct debits on your credit card because it is a simpler process and ensures they get paid on time.
2. Delegation: If someone else can do it, you must delegate. You may be like me and believe no one can do your jobs better. Delegation brings fear. This belief may be correct, but if you are squeezing things in and nothing is being done well, delegating to someone who has more time makes perfect sense.
However, wages and rosters are definitely something I do NOT recommend delegating to someone else. Setting yourself up a costed schedule/roster will help save you money each week.
3. Deletion: Unless it is something you legally have to do or makes a difference in your bottom line delete it.
This also comes with the fear of “what will happen if I don’t reply to that?” Or “what will happen if we throw that away and discover we needed it?” When you discover no one notices what you do, you will feel relief and silly that you wasted all those days, months or years dealing with things that don’t matter, things that steal your time.
4. Deferral: If it is something that you want to work on but other things are more important, file it away for another time … once you file it, forget it.
Everything that has a deadline comes with pressure. As soon as you know it has to be done by a certain time, your mind goes into overdrive and you feel anxious until it is done. Most people procrastinate with things that have deadlines and leave them until the last minute. I list every duty that I have to do on my planner on the exact day that it needs to be done. I do the duty and then don’t worry about it until it shows up again.
I receive many messages and emails daily; I also send many. It is my form of communication daily to my staff. I just check my emails on my laptop once in the morning. I delete those I don’t need and respond to those I have to. It no longer takes small chunks out of my day. I also receive text messages all day because we need to be available for our staff, but I only respond on the spot to the important ones. I respond to the others either the following morning or at the end of each day if I can.
Many of our friends say they cannot manage to get away for holidays. They are surprised by how often we do this and still have successful stores. With today’s modern world of technology, you can do anything from anywhere in the world. My most important office duty I have each week is wages, and I have done this duty in the most beautiful places in the world. You don’t want to take time out to sit and work, but when the other option is to stay home, I’ll take the holiday! I have watched sunsets in Santorini, played in Lapland with Father Christmas, climbed the Eiffel Tower, to name just a few, all on the same day as doing wages. We have also had many inexpensive holidays that are just as much fun: camping on a farm, spending time on the river, and travelling in a motor home. Any time away from everyday life is a holiday, as long as you spend it with people you love.
I want to share something that has been quite remarkable for us, and this happened by accident. Every busy period we have with the stores creates an anxious build-up time for me. One year, whilst I was overwhelmed with an upcoming Christmas period, my husband decided to take me away for a break. We booked a holiday to Bali, just the two of us for a week. We decided we would take some work, just in case we wanted to keep up instead of coming home and being behind. During this holiday we not only did all our Christmas shopping, we also discovered how much work we could get done without all the day-to-day distractions that can happen at home. We came back from this holiday with eight weeks of Christmas rosters completed, Christmas production for both stores done, and a step-by-step process for the lead up to Christmas. What gifts we didn’t buy, we purchased online and they were delivered to us upon our return. We even planned our Christmas Day food-shopping list, ordered the groceries online, and had them delivered on December 24.
During this week, we would wake up every day and go for a long breakfast together. Some mornings I would wake earlier and go for a run first. After breakfast, we would go to our room or find a nice relaxing place in the hotel, by the pool, or in a Bali hut and work through most of the day. We might have slipped off for a massage on some days, but if we did it was straight back to work. Five o’clock was happy hour, and we stopped work for the day, slipped into the pool, enjoyed a drink with other holidaymakers and unwind together. We had an early dinner together and went back to our room at a respectable hour. We continued this each day until all our work was done. We were relaxed and super grateful for the environment. We accidently discovered how special this was, so we now do it a twice a year, before the lead up to our two busiest periods, Christmas and Easter.
We came home after that first trip so far in front, our only regret was not discovering this earlier. Our busy periods are no longer stressful, and it has been great for our relationship, as we get quality time just the two of us … something you don’t often get when you have young children and lead busy lives.
There were periods during that trip I wanted to sit by the pool and read a book, instead of being surrounded by paperwork. I now have the incentive to finish work quicker to get more days at the end to relax, unwind and read.
At home, with all the distractions, it can be hard to keep on track with all there is to do. You must have a plan and stick to it. It is inevitable that you go off track at times, but a plan helps you find your way back quicker. Plan your paperwork carefully, e.g., stocktake on the second Tuesdays, payroll Thursdays, rostering Wednesdays, opening mail the first Tuesday of the month. Wake up and do these before anything else on those days. (I’m giggling to myself whilst writing this, as although I know this works and I teach this to people, I still manage to go off track. I always make sure if I skip a day, I catch back up the next.)
I have had some great offices and some terrible offices over the years. It is when I am in the great offices I work faster, smarter, and enjoy myself more. Check your environment is as good as it can be. Make sure it reflects who you are. You don’t have to have a large space, just clear away clutter and work from a tidy desk. Make sure you are dressed comfortably and the temperature in the room is slightly on the cooler side; if it is too warm you will feel sleepy. Have positive affirmations in sight, have an infuser or candles to make it smell nice, soft music if you enjoy working with music.
Only have in front of you what you are working on. Turn off notifications on your phone and laptop to stop distractions, you cut so much time by doing this. Focus on the job you are there to do. After finishing each job, or when you feel a little distracted, take a break, a walk around the block, or do a five-, ten- or twenty-minute meditation, these activities will give you more focus and help you achieve more.
Having a good workspace reduces stress. I always noticed a feeling of unease whenever I had big paperwork days coming up, but whenever I finished those days, a weight was taken off my shoulders and I received extra energy and a boost to my happiness. I have learnt to do things before they are due; delaying just delays your happiness.
Paperwork for me today is not something I stress about. The alternative is to give the whole lot to someone else, but you cannot afford to lose that control. We have always kept what we knew we had to, delegated what we could, deleted what we don’t need, and deferred things we want to deal with eventually. The rituals we incorporate with paperwork help balance other areas of our life, so I no longer have resentment spending a day doing paperwork.
I look forward to having my busy period holidays, surrounded by paperwork, with a reward at the end of every day.