#75 Prioritising Tasks - Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 3 - British Amazon Seller - the UK Private Label Specialist

#75 Prioritising Tasks – Overcoming Amazon Overwhelm Part 3

  1. WHAT TO WORK ON
    1. What you work on (effectiveness) is way more important than how well you do it (efficiency).
      1. Prioritising is absolutely critical. It is probably the single biggest factor after. This takes discipline, courage and energy. If you lack those, work on your mental and physical state. Go for a run. Phone a friend (Briefly!). Have a quick coffee. Whatever works for you. Then crack straight into it.
    2. How to identify what to work on:
      1. What worries you most?
        1. What are you avoiding that you know you need to do?
        2. Which area of the business feels most neglected? If you’re just starting out, it’s going to be product selection. If you’re next down the line, it will be finding suppliers etc.
        3. What keeps you awake at night?
      2. What great opportunity are you neglecting?
        1. e.g. a new product line;
        2. a new sales channel (eg eBay);
        3. building an email list;
        4. new marketing channels (eg Facebook)
  2. WHAT TO WORK ON FIRST
    1. COVEY GRID: Urgent vs. Important projects and tasks
      1. Urgent things are driven from outside you. I use an exclamation mark! to mark these
        1. external to your business e.g. HMRC (tax man in UK!); suppliers; Amazon
        2. internal to your business e.g. a VA or business partner
        3. They can fill your days but it’s reactive not proactive so it’s not a way to grow a business well. If you’re short of energy and time you may have to just deal with these however for now.
      2. Important tasks – are driven by long term impact. I use an asterisk * to mark.
        1. it can be avoiding large negative impact e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fines and legal issues
        2. it can also be gaining long term opportunities e.g. more revenue from another sales channel (eg Shopify site or eBay)
      3. Tasks can be both urgent and important.
      4. Work on Cat. I tasks as a top priority
    2. The Covey 2X2 grid: classify your thoughts/projects/ worries:
      1. Cat. I urgent and important matters- things that have big impact and have to be done, e.g. getting corporate tax return in on time to avoid fine and legal issues.
      2. Cat II: Important but not urgent. Things that have a big impact but not driven from outside. Eg. for me, creating and gearing up email marketing, setting up a Shopify website; Exploring Vietnam as a place to source from
      3. Cat III – urgent but not so important, e.g., responding to an email from a potential supplier who needs to know from you before Chinese New Year closes factory for the month.
    3. The Covey Grid: prioritise
      1. Do Cat. I urgent and important first. Once done, try to avoid this being a crisis next time.
        1. example:tax return: put the date for annual corporate tax return in your iPhone calendar with a date 4 weeks before to get in touch with your accountant.
      2. Make time each day to deal with III urgent crises. Again, try to find a way to make this systematic so it doesn’t end up driven by urgency so much.
      3. CRUCIAL: Carve out a sacred time to work on Important but not urgent tasks.
        1. 3 hours a day is ideal if full time; 1 hour is good if part time; even 20 minutes is effective if you’re cramming it in very part-time.
        2. After you have dispatched the most urgent tasks or projects, go straight to your most effective ones.
    4. The Lee/Schwabb nuclear method:
      1. If you’re really overwhelmed, this is the most effective single method I’ve ever met:
      2. list your biggest worries/urgencies etc.
      3. [star the important and add ! exclamation marks to urgent] [my addition]
      4. prioritise ruthlessly from most important on
      5. limit strictly to 7 tasks. 5 is better. 3 is more realistic.
      6. Work on the most important/urgent task until it is done or pushed as far on as you can
        1. example: getting Freight Quotes.
          1. Email 3 potential Freight Forwarders to check what info they need
          2. Gather obvious info like weight, dimensions, supplier address from supplier. Check the product value frm supplier emails. That’s one email but a crucial one.
          3. Check receiving address in USA e.g. EZPrep. One email.
          4. Check which duty category your products are in. One quick look up
          5. That may be all you can do in one day. But you’ve moved the task on as far as you can.
          6. When you check email in the afternoon/evening, if you have all that info, collate it then send it the FF.
  3. TIME USAGE
    1. Lack of time is lack of priorities. Worth reiterating. Always aim for an outcome/goal!
      1. if you can’t plan for a year, try a quarter
      2. If you can’t think that far ahead, try the next two weeks
      3. If your energy is low and your brain is mush, plan the next hour at least! What do you want done when you stand up in an hour from your Mac?
      4. One hour of great work is probably worth more than a day of nonsense activity. I’m ashamed to say I still end up doing the latter too much. Forgive yourself and move on.
    2. Multi-tasking is BS for any important activities. Turn off all distractions when working.
      1. Don’t read business emails in bed. I’m bad at this but have learned it doesn’t help your relationship and also you worry about things you can’t change at midnight.
      2. If you need to talk to your supplier at 1 am, do it. But don’t kid yourself you’ve turned in for the night. You’re working. You’ll need to get up a bit later, next day, probably, at least after a day or two of this. That’s okay. Plan accordingly. Just don’t do it in bed or you’ll end up not sleeping because you’re thinking about business. Time to sleep is time to sleep, even if it’s just 4-6 hours a night for a bit.
      3. DO NOT check social media while you need to compose key emails etc etc
      4. DO NOT get seduced into checking email inbox when you just need to send an email out. If needed, compose your email on Word/Notes/ etc etc and then get in and out as fast as possible in the actual email programme. (I’m bad at this but I’m learning…gradually)
      5. It sounds obvious but don’t do a Pokemon Go and walk into the path of traffic while Skyping your chinese supplier. Confession. I’ve come close.
        1. Don’t even think of texting while driving. So tempting. So illegal and so dangerous. Listen to a podcast and accept you’re driving. Or, pull over and take care of it there and then.
    3. However, certain tasks can be LAYERED.  Examples:
      1. Listening to this podcast while running for example.
      2. Taking care of phone calls while walking to the PO to collect a parcel from Amazon with a supplier sample which you weren’t in to collect (guess what I’ve just been doing!)
      3. Reading and replying to emails while on a train. (Don’t do it walking down the platform in London. It’s full of fast moving people. Don’t embarrass me by asking how I know not to do this)
  4. STAYING POSITIVE
    1. Do a gratitude list every evening before going to bed. It’s amazing how effective this is. I’ve been doing it for several months now and it really does help you stay positive.
    2. Remember to build in exercise, at least some sleep and at least some decent nutrition. If you’re overwhelmed, remember to take care of your body! Nothing beats physical energy. 
    3. Only Connect – isolation is a dream killer! Get yourself into some kind of mastermind if you’re not already and find out how others cope with real life as an entrepreneur.
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