In this entrepreneurial life many of us live, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, intimidated or at least unfocused when we start the day. If you’re like me, you have a big list of tasks and items to evaluate that need to be checked off, one by one. It doesn’t take long after your first cup of coffee to ask yourself:

“How am I going to get it all done? How am I going to start my day off right and knock all this stuff out? And if I can actually do that, do I have it in me to wake up tomorrow to do it all over again?”

I felt this very same way until I embraced a morning routine that allows me to work ON and IN my business. It isn’t done in an instant. It actually takes serious time – and yet, when I complete my morning, it makes me a lot more effective in ½ a day than most people are when they have an entire day to work with.

Ready to see what that looks like? Good.

AIM For Efficiency

The first half of my day – that’s right, I said first half, not first hour – is all about taking care of my business. To begin with, I have a number of areas for internal management or AIM for short. These areas include: Strategy. Finance. Sales. Marketing. HR. Professional development. Risk management. You get the picture. Every morning, I evaluate each “department” of my business in relation to how we function at Officeheads.

Here’s how I do it:

As I open my browser in Google Chrome, I have a series of bookmarks that address each area of the business. Every area has its own dashboard. I go through a series of tabs from left to right, one at a time. Working through this checklist is vital because if I don’t do it, my day could get swept up in a lot of other things.

  • My dashboard for Clients “forces” me to keep the people continually fueling my business – those special people known as clients – front and center.
    As part of this effort, I scan my list of clients and consider how I can deliver even better services to them. If I need to review pending contracts, I do. Do they need a call, email or other form of communication? Are there pertinent videos I might want to share with them – whether done by me or someone else – that they might appreciate? It’s all about keeping them top-of-mind and demonstrating to them that I have them top-of-mind too.
  • My dashboard for Marketing and Sales gives me a window into my marketing and sales activity.On the marketing side of this dashboard, I’ll give you a full admission: I have to force myself to engage in a deep dive because this area is so outside of my comfort zone. Nonetheless, I force myself to review my marketing activities, such as different types of content to potentially share. What about this or that article I saved – is that a possible blog topic I can write to? What’s being discussed in my industry-specific Facebook and LinkedIn groups? I scour my social media queue in Sprout Social to approve all curated content so that I can keep that stream of insight to the outside world consistently on track. I open my MailChimp account to review if anything needs to be reviewed as part of an upcoming eNewsletter or eBlast to be sent out to my mailing list. Finally, I open my Google Drive to evaluate any and all marketing documents that need to be reviewed – I offer suggestions to my marketing team on existing drafts and ultimately approve those drafts to keep the process of marketing my business moving right along. Now, when I move to the sales side of this dashboard, I’m a lot more in my comfort zone. I enjoy reviewing all of my sales metrics and activities that include upcoming meetings scheduled through Calendly or my CRM process through Insightly.
  • My dashboard for Finance is obviously an area I’m extremely comfortable with. While I tell my own clients to review their finances every other week, I love it enough to do it every day. And what is it that I’m reviewing exactly? I open HubDoc – a great resource to store my receipts online – as well as QuickBooks Online and Float, a cash flow management tool.
  • My dashboard for Officeheads Academy comes next – and I couldn’t be more excited to develop this new program for entrepreneurs who want to wrap their arms around their finances and feel more in control. From videos to blog posts to landing pages, it’s all here for me to get an up-close look to review, tweak and approve before it proceeds to the next stage of web design and development.
  • There’s a separate dashboard I have for Risk Management, which can include contracts, insurance and other critical items for business protection. It’s not something that needs attention every day, but by acknowledging it and referencing it every day I ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
  • Finally, my dashboard for HR comes last as part of my morning routine, which pertains to managing my team with BambooHR, making decisions on 401(k) plans through Guideline, managing payroll through a program we use called Gusto, and more. This dashboard typically comes last because while it’s certainly important, I don’t have to do a lot of intensive work in this area on an everyday basis.

“OK, but what about the rest of my day?”
When I’ve clicked off that last dashboard, I’m done! By the end of the morning, I’ve accomplished a lot to take care of my business, which is an awesome feeling. But I know what you’re thinking – “you want me to devote that much time to taking care of all the items of my business and then come back each day and repeat that? How will I have time for my other work?” I hear you. The key to making this work is that once I’ve done my morning routine, I almost never look back for the rest of the day unless it’s something very relevant or critical. Other than that, I move forward full speed and laser-focused on the rest of my day’s tasks. Another thing that helps with the “getting things done” question is that I’ve made it a point to not take meetings on Monday morning or Friday if possible so that I can clear the week before the weekend.

Give this system a try in your own business first thing in the morning – I think you’ll be amazed how much more efficient you can be. Not to mention you’ll have a feeling of being in control of your business instead of reacting to every little thing that comes across your desk.

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