Self Employed

How to Stay on Track with Your Small Business

Dayna Steele

There is any number of how-to-stay-on-track articles that all basically say the same thing. They tell you to manage your time wisely, use your calendar, keep a to do list, schedule checking email, other messages, and social media, don’t get caught up in the time vampire online that is today’s news cycle, etc. The list can go on and on.

We all work in our unique way. I love to check news, email, messages, and social media throughout the day. I find all kinds of interesting things and can also reply to clients and potential clients promptly.

When The Growth Center asked me to talk about staying on track, I figured it was as good a time as any to explain the crazy method that works for me AND has worked for others in the past when they asked for my help. It all started when I created and ran The Space Store, the first NASA, and space-related retail operation online.

There was so much going on at any given time on any given day; I felt like a space hamster on a weightless treadmill not getting a thing done and going in too many different directions. I’d be in the middle of adding a new product that had just arrived when someone would walk in and show me a new product I might be interested in for the store. Ooooooh shiny!

Next thing you know, I had forgotten all about the products that needed to be added to the website and was perusing the catalog of new fun space toys and more. While I was doing that, the new product I’d already paid for sat at my feet and not on a website where people could be buying it.

Or, I would be updating things on the site when I would have a profound idea for a press release to try to get some free publicity, and the next thing you know, I was off doing that and would forget the stuff that needed updating on the store website. Too many squirrels and nothing getting done!

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So, what is a space girl to do?

I started with old-fashioned inboxes on my desk—one for each day of the workweek. Then, I created matching sections in my task folder and matching folders in my email and on my computer. Unless something was an emergency, it went into the correct box, section or folder I’m working with on the assigned day. Period.

I don’t remember the exact order. Still, it went something like this:

  • Monday, I updated the website
  • Tuesday I added new merchandise to the site
  • Wednesday I worked on press and free publicity ideas
  • Thursday I looked at and researched new potential products to add, and
  • Fridays, I did administrative chores.

I took care of personal things and finances on the weekend.

I have done this ever since in anything I work on throughout the week. The workload and projects have changed and increased, and I now do it for several companies and projects at one time.

However, the organization is still the same:

  • On Mondays, I work on theatre and speech projects
  • Tuesday, I write and research for this column
  • On Wednesdays, I work on my books
  • Thursday is Your Daily Success Tip administrative items
  • Friday is dedicated to the family corporation and investments
  • And on Saturday or Sunday, I still take care of personal things and finances

So, what’s my day look like?

Let’s take a Monday, for example.

Up early, coffee (lots), read the news, check social media, glance at email and put each in the designated folders (if something is urgent, I leave it in the email inbox), post the daily success tip, schedule any other social media, and then get into the folder, file and box for the day – email, task, computer, and physical inbox. And, if something comes in on this Monday that has to do with say my books or the 101 Ways to Rock book series, it goes in the corresponding file, section, folder, or inbox to be looked at and dealt with on Wednesday, and so on. This process is repeated all day as items come in from all the different sources and people.

Many say this is too much work, but I love to have several projects going on at once, and this keeps me on task, productive, AND successful.

As my Wonder Husband says, “If it’s stupid and it works, it ain’t stupid.”

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