Get your Ducks in a Row in January — Four things to do now that will save your business valuable time later

by Lisa Jansen

If you’re starting the new year with promises such as; this year I will be more organised, have better work-life balance, take my business/career to new heights, or don’t leave things until last minutes; you’re in good company. But, let’s be honest, how long does our ‘new way of doing things’ usually last? A month, maybe two? By the time Easter rolls around most of us have fallen back into old habits.

Maybe there is a trick to help us stick to our business new year’s resolutions this year.

But maybe there is a trick to help us stick to our promises this year. What if we go a little overboard in January and get super organised now? Kind of like getting a head-start for the rest of the year.

For many of us January is a quieter month so it’s the perfect time to channel your inner organiser and get your (business’s) ducks in a row. But, planning alone won’t be enough. You can come up with great ideas of how you will manage your work and business better in 2016 but most of us will fall off the wagon once things get busy and hectic again.

The trick is to do it in a way that will be easily repeatable and executable for the rest of the year. You want to use your time now to develop and implement things that will save you time later in the year.

Four things to do in January to get your business’s ducks in a row for the rest of the year.

Here are four things you can do in January to get your business ready for the year — and give yourself a shot at actually delivering on those promises you’re making to yourself.

1. Develop templates

Great templates can make life so much easier and save heaps of time. Whether it’s client facing documents such as proposals for work, creative briefs, project updates or invoices, or internal documents such as project overviews, leave requests or timesheets; creating templates now means time saved later in the year.

Have a think about the types of documents that are needed regularly in your business. If they are pretty much the same, or very similar, each time a template is probably a valuable thing to have.

Great templates can make life so much easier and save heaps of time.

And maybe you don’t even need to develop templates from scratch. There are many already available on the web. Here are a few examples:

2. Develop & document processes

Whether it’s sales and marketing processes, client on-boarding, project management, invoicing or customer communication — developing and documenting efficient processes now can help significantly speed things up later on. Flowcharts are a great way to quickly document processes that are easy to understand and follow. Invest the time now so that when things get busy you (and your team) have an easy step-by-step document to follow and everyone knows what needs to be done.

Developing and documenting processes now can be a real time and stress saver later in the year

Learn more about documenting processes:

3. Review your team

I’m sure you’ve done (most of) your planning for the year by now and set your goals. But have you taken the time to look at your team? To REALLY look at you team? To look beyond how awesome they are and how much you like working with them to really think about if you, as a team, have all the skills and experience needed to achieve your goals?

Now is the time to identify gaps and find the talent you need. We all know people are what makes or breaks any business.

Now is the time to identify gaps in your team and find the talent you need.

4. Implement new tools and systems

Yes, technology can be a bit scary and can become a major distraction. But, it can make life so much easier when it gets busy. The important thing is to do it right. Don’t just sign up for the latest productivity tool and expect it to change your business. To really leverage the benefits technology can offer you need to invest time to implement the new tools in your business and get your team using them.

Don’t just sign up for the latest productivity tool and expect it to change your business.

January is a great time to bring in new systems and set them up properly. Do your research to make sure you’re getting the right tools for your business. But once you’ve made a decision commit to it. Sure, you want to test a new product for a while. But the sooner you make the yes or no call the better for your business. Once you’ve found the right one, you have to be all in and really commit to it — it’s all or nothing when it comes to technology. And be prepared to invest some time into it. Technology is getting smarter but it still can’t read minds.

Learn more about software implementations:

Do these four things now (or even just some/one of them) and you will have a much better shot at actually achieving your New Year’s resolutions this year.