For this installment of “Meet Apsos” we moved mountains, crossed oceans and traveled halfway around the globe to gain exclusive access to the man himself: Apsos Media’s founder and CEO, Matthew Apsokardu. Okay okay, so the whole mountains and oceans thing is...
As the owner of an HVAC company you have many things on your mind and to do list. If you are anything like every other entrepreneur out there you probably feel like there is never enough time in the day to get things done. In order to help you get control over your to-do list, we have put together a list of the top 11 productivity tips that every HVAC business owner should know.
Take care of yourself
Ok, this may be an obvious one but it’s very important. It’s so important that if you’re going to incorporate any of these tips, this one might have the biggest effect. Eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising are all proven to increase your energy levels, and the more energy you have in your “personal battery”, the more energy you can exert on a particular task, making you more productive.
Track your time
You can’t improve something if you don’t know where you’re starting from. Sign up for a time tracking app like Toggle which is available for free for your computer, Android, or Apple device. Use Toggl to track where you spend your time every day. At the end of the week look back and see what tasks could have been done quicker, or better yet, not done at all.
By identifying where you’re wasting time (hello endless scrolling through Facebook) and just how much time you’re wasting on those tasks, you can make a point of not doing them anymore.
Find your Biological Low Point and schedule tasks accordingly
Your energy level dips and spikes throughout the day. If you find yourself doing everything you can to keep yourself from falling asleep when 3pm rolls around then you know what I mean. That’s because most people’s energy levels dip at that time. On the other hand, many people report having higher levels of energy early in the morning, or late at night. That being said everyone is different.
To find out exactly when your energy levels peak and dip you can do what Chris Bailey from A Life of Productivity did and run an experiment over three weeks recording at what times you feel energetic, and when you don’t.
Use this knowledge to schedule your most important work during peak energy levels. When you have tons of energy you are not just able to get things done quicker, you also tend to do them better. On the other hand, use low energy times to do things that are not as important, like answering emails. Better yet, take a break.
Instead of using every ounce of energy you have to stay awake between 3pm and 6pm, take a nap for 25 minutes. Although this may seem like wasted time it’s not when you consider that afterwards you will be rested and your biological battery will be recharged allowing you to be more productive, getting more done in less time.
Create a list of overflow tasks and schedule a maintenance day
Not all tasks are created equal. At the beginning of the day rank all your tasks from 1 to 5, with 1 being crucially important, and 5 being not important. Focus on crucially important tasks first, that way if you run out of daylight the tasks that will be left over won’t be that important.
Then schedule a “maintenance day” about every other week and use that day to focus only on low importance tasks. Better yet, see if any of those tasks don’t need to get done at all. If two weeks have gone by and everything is running smoothly without them being done, then perhaps you don’t need to them at all.
Break big tasks into small ones that are no longer scary
Sometimes the most important tasks are the ones we procrastinate on the most because they are the most difficult. To reduce procrastination take those big tasks and break them down into smaller tasks. The goal is to be able to complete each mini task in around 25 minutes. Why 25 minutes? Well, here is why…
Start using a Pomodoro Timer ASAP
The Pomodoro technique involves working for 25 minutes, then taking a short 5-minute break, before returning for another 25-minute spurt of work. The reason this is so important is that it’s scientifically proven that 25 minutes is about as long as a person can focus before productivity and quality of work begin to drop.
By utilizing a Pomodoro timer like Focus Keeper (Brain Focus is a great alternative for Android) you can track your Pomodoros and make sure that you are taking enough breaks in order to stay at a peak productivity level. After you complete several Pomodoros (4 is a well-accepted number) take a slightly longer break, between 15 and 30 minutes, to make sure that you are giving your brain enough rest. Bonus points if you incorporate walking in your long break.
Learn the Pareto principle and reference it regularly
The Pareto Principle, or otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, states that 20 percent of actions, determine 80 percent of results. It may be a bit off sometimes, like 25/75, but the important thing to understand is that in general, a few very important actions will account for a majority of results. Perhaps you have 2 or 3 clients that make up a large percent of your revenue, or 1 of the 5 marketing channels you use accounts for a majority of your clients. So, what are the 20% of your tasks that are the most important?
As the owner of an HVAC company, your most important tasks are probably those that have to do with business development and company management. Looking at your daily list of tasks and categorizing them into either “20%” tasks or not will help you make sure that you are always focusing on the most important work.
Keep interruptions to a minimum
Science tells us that it takes a very long time for the human brain to focus on something, and when it is interrupted, it takes just as long to become focused again. That is why you should make sure that when you’re doing your most important work, or as productivity author Cal Newport calls it – “deep work”, you are keeping interruptions to a minimum, or better yet nonexistent.
To do so, do this work early in the morning when no one is awake yet, or if possible late at night. If this is not possible lock yourself in a room or office and put up a sign telling others not to bother you. Turn off your phone and focus. You will be surprised just how much you will be able to do during this period of time.
Use a personal task manager like Todoist
In order to reach peak productivity levels, you need to be able to focus on one thing at a time (surprise, surprise, multitasking doesn’t work) but you can’t focus on one task at a time if all the other things you need to do are constantly swimming around your head. To fix this, get those tasks out of your head and put them into a task management app like Todoist.
Todoist allows you to categorize tasks under different projects so everything stays organized, and divide them up between different days. Using Todoist you can also track how many tasks you tend to get done in a day. So, if you know that on average you can get through 15 tasks a day, and today you have 20, then you can easily go in and see what tasks you can possibly push to the next day.
Have an agenda for all calls and share it with the other person
One of the biggest time wasters in a business are meetings. You know how it is, you get in there and next thing you know you have spent 20 minutes talking about something that has nothing to do with the initial point of the meeting.
To avoid this create an agenda for every meeting and assign each item a time limit. Choose someone in the meeting to serve as the “timekeeper” and to make sure that you are sticking to the allotted time for each item. Knowing that there is a ticking clock will keep everyone on task and focused on the job at hand.
Upgrade your internal company software
Many HVAC companies are using old outdated software internally. This is important because the more outdated a software becomes the more bugs it can develop, slowing you down. Also, if you are not constantly on the lookout for better software, then you may not be running your company in the most efficient manner.
A free software that can you help you become more efficient and productive is Slack. Slack can be described as the child of email and text messaging and is hugely helpful in reducing the number of internal email exchanges. It helps teams communicate in real time in a similar way to text messaging, but gives you all the capabilities of email like file sharing. By making team communication more efficient, you will immediately increase your productivity and that of your employees since they will spend less time getting the information they need to do their job, and more time actually doing it.
We are confident that by incorporating even a few of these tips in your HVAC business and daily life, will help you get a handle over your to-do list, and reduce the feeling that no matter what you do, you don’t have enough time in the day.