A lot of MSPs start out the same — launched by techies that want to create a service offering they can control and develop. This often means the MSP owner is spending most of their time working IN the business and not ON the business. In other words, the owner is probably still involved with the daily technical and customer support activities of the MSP.
The first challenge for the MSP owner is to make changes that allow them to work on the business (and not in it). Once these day-to-day management activities have been transitioned successfully to other team members, the business owner can spend their valuable time on activities that can have an impact on the business and growth plans. These activities may include business plans, marketing/sales, building the team, and developing strategic partnerships.
Getting more control over your day
A lot of people think that once they have built a team to allow them to work ON the business, this will allow them to have control over their time, day, and activities. Unfortunately, that’s not usually the case!
With the increased responsibilities that come along with planning, business activities, growth, HR, and partnerships, you will find you have less time (and more stress). At this stage, business owners and managers need to get smarter with their time. They need to improve productivity!
What it means to be productive
A lot of business owners have busy lives, whether that’s in the office or at home. With the hustle and bustle of daily life and the constant firefighting, ‘busyness’ is often mistaken for being productive. The fundamental difference is the output achieved or the result. Are you making progress?
When you’re working in a reactive state like firefighting tasks, your head is just above the water, and the day dictates your direction and what you achieve (or don’t achieve). This is counterproductive, and if you have goals for the day, the month, or your life you’re going to struggle to move closer to them.
Switching to a proactive approach to dealing with tasks, projects, and planning will allow you to make progress, which is measurably bringing you closer and closer to your goals.
How to improve your daily time management and get results
- Get smart about email
Email is probably one of the biggest time drains in business. Reading and processing email puts you in a re-active state, and you’re basically working on someone else’s TO DO list when your replying and actioning emails.
To improve email processing:
- Remove distraction — Turn off alerts
- Gain control — Have scheduled times during the day when you open, read, and process email
- Take a proactive approach — Live by the INBOX ZERO method. Every time you ‘process’ email, you should deal with the email there and then. Whether it means deleting, forwarding, replying or moving emails to a TO PROCESS folder, each time you get your inbox to zero emails. This method puts you in a proactive state and removes the stress associated with a full inbox.
- Streamline — When sending emails, use specific subjects, keep the email short and snappy, and include a clear action you want the reader to take. This will allow for faster response, and it will increase the chances of the recipient using a similar format.
- Leverage technology
We’re all techies in the IT channel, so use technology to your advantage. Use apps like Evernote, Basecamp, Trello, etc. for task management and reminders.
- Plan, plan, plan
This is an important one – To gain true control of your time, day, week and life, you need to PLAN! Whether you plan on a Sunday for the week ahead, or the night before the days activities, get yourself a weekly planner and stick to it. Make sure your tasks align with your bigger goals.
- Establish routines and habits
Productivity is cultivated when you exercise regular routines and habits. This also feeds into your planning. Carve out your perfect day or times in the day for specific types of tasks. For example, when will you be working out of the office, or when are you going to the gym? Healthy habits like exercising and eating healthily, all boost productivity.
- Eat the frog
Get the biggest, hardest, ugliest task of the day done first. Don’t put it off! Completing this task will ensure you don’t procrastinate, and it will boost your mindset once the task is complete so then you can hit your TO DO list.
- Use the two-minute test
Can the task be done in two minutes or less? Then just do it now!
- Get out of the office
Most offices are full of distractions, and that’s even more true at the office of a managed service provider. Whether it’s for a couple of hours per week or a couple of days — get out of the office. Find some where to hot desk or set up a home office. You will find you get through tasks a lot more efficiently.
- Get rid of distractions
The biggest distraction that will follow you around is your mobile/cell phone. Turn off alerts and put it away … at least when tackling important tasks.
- Know your why
Why do you get up in the morning and do what you do? Doing a little self-discovery, looking at the bigger picture, and understanding why you want to build and grow your MSP will give you an overriding goal and drive that will support all of your daily activities
- Take action
Are you working on the right tasks and activities? If you’re not making progress, analyse your past daily planning and work out if your tasks align with your main goals and, ultimately, your WHY. During daily planning, ensure you have one to three tasks scheduled that will move you forward and feel like a win.
When you move to a proactive approach to planning and goal setting and incorporate productivity hacks into your daily routine, you will find that results will improve and tasks will be completed faster. You will also feel more energised, able to ‘turn off’ when you’re not working, and make progress growing your MSP.