Working Smarter, Not Harder

A hand placing some colourful post it notes on a white wall which display different tasks

The age-old adage that is used by many business owners across the globe. But what does it really mean and how can you ensure you’re being as efficient as possible.

Working ‘smartly’ (or efficiently) quite simply means doing the right task in the best way, without wasting any time or effort. The best way to do that? Plan, measure and prioritise…

I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but planning for tomorrow today is the number one key to a productive day. (If you don’t do anything else suggested here, I guarantee this will immediately make you more efficient.) 

Still, if you want to be the ‘smartest worker’, please keep reading!

It’s great to have a plan or to do list for tomorrow (to avoid procrastination and hit the ground running), but without understanding how long a task might take, or knowing their value and priority, there will still be efficiency gaps.

Take the time to actively measure how long (averagely) each task needs. They might be daily, weekly, monthly or even annually. But in most cases, they will all be a repeat of something you’ve done before (or will become that way as your business endures). Once you know this, you’ll be able to start mastering your daily plan. 

Next, prioritise and add a value to each of the tasks. For example; a 1, 2, 3 priority scale in conjunction with an income earning scale (0, £, ££ or £££). This will help you determine which tasks to tackle first in the day and which could roll over to the following day if necessary – or even be removed entirely! 

Nothing is simple when running a business, there will always be other distractions that pop up, so plan for those too. Emails and calls for example (measure the average time you spend on these). They will invariably come in at random times throughout the day, disturbing your flow and impeding your efficiency! But you can stop them. Plan times into your day for checking emails and for taking/ returning calls. As long as you communicate this to your team and clients, no-one will be disappointed or frustrated.

This blog was originally featured in Issue 17 of Worthing & Adur Chamber Of Commerce’s Connect Magazine: Read it here.

‘Conveyer Belt’ Your Way To Saving Time

Navy alarm clock standing on a white desk infront of a plant

I recently worked on a project for a client, covering whilst a member of their team was away. She is extremely efficient, knows what she’s doing and never wastes time (I know this from working with her regularly)! And yet, whilst I was covering her work, I was around 30% quicker at getting the tasks done than usual.

I considered a number of things to try to understand this. Including: 

The process – was I changing or reducing the number of actions taken to achieve the same result? .. No.

The amount of work – were the number of work requests fewer than those usually provided? .. No.

The time of day – considering that each person varies in productivity level depending on the time of day and other influencing factors? .. No!

So what was it??

When she came back from her annual leave, we did the usual handover and I took the opportunity to talk to her about my thoughts on the timing issue. What I discovered, (and she has since taken up!), is that we use a different method, mine evidently saving significantly more time.

So here it is: The method;

I call it my conveyer belt system, which will hopefully make sense as I explain..

When taking on any task, simple or complex, I always break it down into chunks. Usually with admin, you’ll have a number of different tasks throughout any given day and any one action will be repeated several times. E.g. Invoice processing, raising quotes, filing documents, organising emails, updating spreadsheets, and so on etc. 

It’s highly likely that for any task that comes in you’ll do it as you go. I.e. Process that invoice, update the relevant spreadsheet, then reply to an email, process the next invoice etc. Whilst that feels productive because you’re getting through everything, it’s actually quite inefficient. You’re constantly having to go in and out of various files and systems, and your brain is having to focus on something new every 5 minutes!

If you consider for a moment, a factory. A product is created by going through various stages of a conveyer belt system, and each area of the conveyer belt focusses on one action. This is the most efficient way. It would be impossible for the labelling element to also design, create and package the product. And if it were possible, that one area of the machine would take considerably longer to produce multiple products at any one time.

So, to be as effective as possible, we need to adopt the same theory. 

Still with me? Not quite? OK, let’s run through a couple of examples..

Example1 – Invoice Processing: 

Firstly, it’s likely you’re going to receive more than one invoice per day, week or month. So, depending on the frequency, you want to choose one time of day, one day a week, or one day a month to process all of your invoices together. This is the first stage of your conveyer belt – working out what needs to be actioned and when. 

Next, breakdown the task of processing an invoice. What actions are required? You’ll need to;

  1. Open/ load/ view the invoice
  2. Save it to your files
  3. Add it to your accounting software
  4. Possibly add it to a task list or other spreadsheet for internal use/ reporting
  5. Get payment approval
  6. Pass it for payment

That’s quite a list just for one small job. I know each of those elements won’t take long, maybe 30 seconds to a minute, but that means each invoice can take up to 6 minutes to process! It also means that for each one, you have to move your brain through 6 different activities, adding on a few more precious seconds.

Getting back to our conveyer belt theory. If you were to instead action all invoices, within each stage, at the same time, think how much time and brain re-engagement effort that would save! Opening all (10 let’s say) invoices one after the other, then running through and saving them all, adding each to the accounting software, etc. etc. Until all actions are complete across your entire conveyer belt.

After the first one, this brings each ‘new’ 30-60 second action down to 20 or 40 seconds because you’re no longer having to think or work so hard on each section. Each action becomes a brief habit in that moment of time. And suddenly you’ve gone from 1 hour to completely process 10 invoices, to only 40 minutes. Across an entire day, you’ve saved almost 2.5 hours!! Just think what else you could be doing with that time.

Example 2 – Organising Emails:

If you’re anything like me, by the end of the day your inbox can start to look a bit messy and needs a good sort out ready for the next! You keep articles or newsletters you want to read, but haven’t and possibly won’t get round to. You have important emails that no longer need actioning but do need to be saved or filed. There’re junk emails you’ve skipped over in a hurry to get to more urgent matters. There’re non-urgent emails that need a response you haven’t gotten round to yet. And a number of other wonders in between!

Following a similar approach to the above, to get through this as quickly and efficiently as possible, we need to adopt the ‘conveyer belt’ method. Start by breaking down the types of emails you have;

  1. Urgent – needs a reply
  2. Non-urgent – but still needs a reply
  3. Information only – need to review but no reply required
  4. Informative – articles, newsletters, offers etc.
  5. Junk/ spam – Why am I still getting these!!!

Then, for each type, consider the actions required (and the priority). Work through each email type (not each email, each type). For example, all of the urgent – needs a reply emails. Once you’ve done one, your mindset will be focussed on appropriate wording and responses, so doing the next and the next will get easier and easier. Follow this with the non-urgent – needs a reply emails. They might not be urgent, but whilst your brain is in the right gear, get them done. It will take less time overall.

If you have emails that need filing out of your mail system, do them all at once. If you’ve decided that you want to get rid of all the newsletters from ‘products are us’ (because you’re just not going to get round to reading them), do a search, pull them all up at once and delete them all together. Don’t spend time unnecessarily running through each of your emails to find them. 

Find all of your junk emails and get into a rhythm – opening each one, unsubscribing and then deleting it. And so on within each area of your emails.

To summarise: 

Your whole day, week, month or even year can be broken down into chunks of the work, tasks and actions needed – areas of time that can be managed dependent on the frequency of the task required. Start there. Then once you’ve figured that out, you can focus on the individual tasks and the actions necessary to complete them. From there, you can set up your ‘conveyer belt’ system. Good luck! 

Thank you for reading our blog, I hope you’ve found the ‘conveyer belt’ idea useful. If you need any help or want to chat through this idea in more detail, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. 

Tel: 01903 688789. Email:

What To Outsource A Month Before Christmas

Christmas tree in a town centre covered in blue lights

With only 5 working weeks to go before Christmas hits, what do you have left on your to do list?  

In between concentrating on serving your customers, providing your services and managing your workspace and teams, there’s an abundance of operations and management jobs that need to be done. Why not take some of the pressure off and ensure you finish the year with all these tasks completed too. Here’s some ideas about what you can outsource to ensure you rest easy this Christmas. 


This time of year it’s always good to start getting ready for next, and an important part of that is organisation. You don’t want to come back to work in January with a messy inbox, unorganised filing systems and unruly databases. So why not enlist someone to help? It may only be a few hours work, but against providing your core services, it’s not necessarily a priority.  

An experienced personal assistant can expertly organise your emails, purging out of date or unnecessary correspondence, creating folders to file important emails, highlight important messages and much more. They can even send holding responses for you to give you more time to deal with key communications. 

When it comes to your digital filing systems – folders on your laptop/ computer, DropBox (or other file sharing platforms) or local servers – these can get out of hand after 12 months activity! It’s a task that you probably keep thinking about, but let’s face it, the prospect of sifting through and getting them sorted isn’t a fun one. Why not bite the bullet and recruit a helper? With an impartial view and no emotional attachment, they’ll quickly and efficiently tidy your files and likely make them much more user friendly too! 

The same goes with your databases. Over months of use and ongoing updating they’re prone to getting untidy. New names get added to notes, but not the ‘Contact’ section. Numbers and addresses aren’t always up to date. Old information and data entries are kept when they no longer need to be. Excel spreadsheets have formatting errors and inconsistencies. It’s a mess! Get a skilled administrator to have a look and take the stress of this task away. 

Whilst we’re on the subject of admin, have you sent your customers’ Christmas cards out yet? We can source, print, write and post them for you if you like? 


This is so important. We can’t stress enough how little time there is until businesses start slowing or shutting down for the 2-week holiday period. Realistically you only have 4 weeks to get your outstanding invoices sent or followed up for payment. It’s nice getting the orders in and goods sent out, but it’s even better to start a new year with the cash in the bank and your finances in order. We understand one can’t happen without the other, but these processes don’t have to be independent. Hiring a capable Credit Controller to follow up older debts and keep on top of new ones is the best way to ensure you’re ahead of the game when January comes around. 

Bookkeeping is another key area that’s often left until it’s an absolute must. Incoming invoices, receipts and payments are a regular daily occurrence for most businesses and it’s easy for them to pile up quickly without being properly logged, making year end books a bit of a headache. Why not alleviate some of the pain and let a professional help you get it all organised? 

Quick question … When was the last time you reviewed your annual cashflow results and forecasts to look for expenditure savings? We’d be happy to help by producing simple summaries and overviews for you.  

Digital Marketing  

It’s easy to let marketing go a little when you have a busy period, but the problem with that is, when it gets quiet again there’s nothing in the pipeline! Don’t let your new year suffer because of your December successes. Employ an experienced digital marketer to help create and keep on top of your newsletters, mailshots, annual summaries and infographics. Keep the promotions going for January and get a plan in place for the rest of the year. 

Whether you currently use social media as a marketing channel or not, now is the time to start thinking about your strategy. If you use it already, you’ll know how important a good plan is and if you don’t, you should be! Seek the services of a digital marketing expert so it’s not all on your shoulders. The best way to interact and engage with prospects often changes, their help and advice will be invaluable – Not to mention they’ll take the daily workload that comes with social marketing away too!  

FYI – We’ve worked with over 30 industries on 100’s of accounts, across multiple social media channels. We’re always happy to answer questions and share ideas. 

So, whilst you’re taking care of order fulfilling; customer services; staff reviews; stock takes; desk clearing; and new year goal setting, let us help with everything in between. Allow yourself to make time for the most important thing of all – spending time with family and friends and taking some much-needed time off! 

We have been successfully providing services remotely for six years now. We are members of the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) and have been for 6 years. We work on our clients’ behalf as part of their team, and you can be confident that all services we provide are GDPR compliant, we take confidentiality seriously. 

If you’d like help with your admin, finance tasks or digital marketing, then please get in touch:  

T – 01903 688789  E – 

Writing The Perfect Email Subject Line For Your Campaign

A person typing out an email at a laptop while sitting at a wooden table with other people

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When it comes to your email subject line, it’s often one of the last steps you think about when creating your email marketing campaign, but it’s so important and shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your email subject line is the first part of your content that your subscriber will see, so you need to make sure that it stands out and captures their attention.

With that in mind, we thought we’d share some of our own simple steps on how to create the perfect email subject line.

Keep it short, simple and to the point

In order to make your email campaign stand out from crowded inboxes, you need to keep it short, simple and to the point. Use no more than 50 characters (including spaces!) in your subject line, highlighting the main focus of your email. Whether that’s an offer you’re running, blog post you’re sharing  or new service you’re offering – tease what is included in your email campaign without giving too much away. Place the most important and relevant words towards the beginning of the subject line and be concise by avoiding using too many filler words.

Use Call to Actions

Your subject line is the chance to motivate and intrigue your recipients to click on your email campaign and engage with the content inside. To encourage this, try using call to action words, such as: Check Out, Discover, Enter Now, Try For Free and Shop Now, to name a few.

Personalise with a First Names

Using personalisation in your email subject line is a great way to encourage open rates. Especially when it comes to using your recipient’s first name. This will make them feel special and more interested to click on your email. After all, out of all of the emails that you receive on a daily basis, the ones that usually stand out and you click on are the ones that mention your name in the subject line.

Use Emoji’s

Using Emoji’s in your email subject line can really make you get noticed by your recipients. They’re modern, very on trend and constantly evolving. Just make sure that when you’re using them, they are relevant to what you’re talking about in the subject line and that you haven’t used too many at once.

Avoid using all-caps and overuse of question and exclamation marks

There’s nothing more off-putting than opening up your inbox and seeing a subject line like this:

More so than anything, this type of subject line is likely to make your recipient scroll straight past or delete, rather than catching their attention and opening the email. Overusing capital letters and punctuation looks like you’re shouting and may even be perceived as spam.

Although, that’s not to say that you can’t use capital letters, question marks or exclamation marks at all – just use them sparingly!

Test, Test and Test again!

The ultimate key to a successful email marketing campaign is to test and proofread multiple times. The same goes for your subject line. After all, this is the first thing your recipient will see from you. If it’s riddled with spelling errors and mistakes, it’s going to look unprofessional and people are likely to be put off by this and not even bother opening the full email.

If you feel like you could do with some support creating and sending email campaigns to your audiences, then get in touch. Our highly experienced team would love to help you out! | 01903 688789.

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your Business

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Spring has officially sprung! It’s the time of year to review and refresh, so we’ve pulled together some ways you can Spring Clean Your Business.

Update your website

Your website is the heart of your business. Is it giving the impression you want? Take time to review your website as a visitor and make any relevant changes. Could your copy do with being vamped up? Have you updated your website to include new services or products that you’re now offering? Do you need to remove any out of date information? These small changes will make all the difference – it’s just about taking some time out to actually do it!

Organise your emails

This is something we often put off time and time again, but what a difference it makes when we do it. Purge old emails (just think – do you really need to keep this?), Organise emails that you need to keep with the use of folders and subfolders and unsubscribe from any e-newsletters that you receive that you’re not interested in receiving anymore. This should make your inbox look a little less daunting!

Check your links

How often do you check the links included on your website, email signatures and social media profiles? Probably not at often as you should. If you manage to come across a rare spare 10 minutes in your working day, use this time to make sure that your links are still working and that they are pointing visitors to the correct place. This may not be the most entertaining of tasks, but very much worth doing every now and then.

Refresh your Social Media

Take a look at all of your social media account analytics and review them. Is the content that you’re sharing working? Are you over-selling? Do you need to interact with your followers more to give that ‘human touch’? Look back at your original social media strategy, this will help you to refocus.
Freshen up your social media visuals – it may be time to create a new profile icon or header to replace your current outdated one. We understand that as a small business owner you may not have these actions at the top of your priority list, but paying attention to this information and making small changes will really help your online presence moving forwards.

Revisit your business plan and goals

So, you had a business idea, created your business plan, officially started your business and it has gone from strength so strength. So you don’t need your business plan anymore, right? Wrong. You will always need your business plan – it’s the structure of how you built up your small business. You should look back at your business plan yearly and update it to keep up with your business growth and to help track if you are achieving your set ambitions and goals.

Get Cleaning!

Finally, how often do you actually get to clean your office space? Whether you work from home or in a shared office, tidy up your workspace. Eliminate any old paperwork from your desk by filing it away or shredding it. Sharpen your pencils, buy new pens that actually work and clean your computer. It doesn’t bear thinking about how many germs collect on keyboards!

If your business could do with a few extra hours in the day, we can help with our services. The best bit? You’ll only pay for the support that you need. Get in touch and make it happen today by dropping us an email or giving us a call on 01903 688789.