How to End Stressful Mondays (It's All About Friday Afternoon)
Have you ever had a day where a single phone call or email derailed your plans for the entire day?
Have you ever been exhausted at the end of a busy day only to realize how much work you didn't get to?
As a business owner I bet your answer is: All the time!
I know it was for me. New tasks were hijacking my time to work on older tasks while the deadlines just kept coming! I felt stressed, panicked, and overwhelmed.
Something had to change. I took a deep breath and a step back, and that's when I had my "duh" moment. As the saying goes, "I was too busy working in my business to work on my business."
So I made myself a tall iced coffee (yes, I drink way too much caffine) and hunkered down to solve this problem.
Because I am a CPA, I turned to an old friend for answers - my Princilpes of Cost Accounting book. And in those pages I found a simple no-nonsense way to take back control of my time. Who would think accounting could REDUCE stress? Well...me! That's why I'm here to help.
Getting back to basics
Let's face it, for all their elegant beauty, my stressed, panicked and overwhelmed mind doesn't have the energy or time to labor over analyzing a lot of data to decide on the best what-if scenerio blah, blah, blah. I need to quickly collect just enough information to make a confident decision and get back in action.
Pare down all the available data down to the bare essentials and one becomes the hands-down winner: CASH.
While working with business owners for two decades, I witnessed just how important cash is for small businesses. I would say most daily decisions are influenced in some way by available cash.
So just what is this simple no-nonsence way to take back control of my time so I can return to running my business and, not my business running me?
A Cash Budget
If you genuinely want to know your top priorities, a Cash Budget is your best friend. This fantastic report will:
- Show if there will be enough cash to get through the week
- Show which receipts and payments are vital in the coming week
- Show what tasks make the biggest impact in you business
A Cash Budget provides this priceless insight with straight-forward calculations:
Current Cash Balance + Incoming Cash - Outgoing Cash = Projected Cash
Usually, a Cash Budget is calculated for each week of the upcoming month, with the Projected Cash becoming the Current Cash Balance for the following week.
Now, when is the best time to use this amazing tool called a Cash Budget?
Why do I want to do this on a Friday afternoon? I;m trying to finish tasks not start new ones. I'm ready to relax.
I know this is what is going through your mind. Truthfully, you can choose any time that works with your schedule. It only takes about an hour, or less after you have gone through the process a couple of times. Like with most everything you get better with practice.
But, I have three very specific reasons for recommending Friday afternoons:
Unfinished tasks are still fresh in your mind.
This is the perfect time to review why tasks didn't get completed as expected. Ask yourself:
Were you depending on the cash from a task to meet an obligation? Unfinished tasks mean delayed billings.
Were there unplanned situations? Were they within your control or not?
Does the delay on this task mean other tasks need to be rescheduled? How will this affect future cash receipts?
Do you need to allocate more time to the task in the future? Or, were any actions unnecessary or redundant?
What would I do differently if I were starting the task today?
Finished tasks are still fresh in your mind
This is the perfect time to review how well a task was performed. Ask yourself:
Was the task finished on time or was a deadline extended?
Has the billing been done so payment will be received when planned?
Do you believe the time allocateda to the task is appropriate? Or, was it too generous?
What actions went well that you want to replicate on future tasks?
Provides a preview of next week's cash requirements
This is the perfect time to make sure you will be able to meet next week's obligations. It is no fun to find out Thursday morning you can't make payroll on Friday. Ask yourself:
Are expected cash receipts enough to cover your required cash payments?
If not, are there any cash receipts that can be collected earlier than expected? Or, are there any payments that can be rescheduled without substantial penalty?
If yes, are there any cash receipts critical to making sure all goes according to plan? If so, you should consider contacting the customer/client and verify there are no issues that could delay payment.
Are there any critical payment obligations that must be met? If so, set-up a reminder to make sure it is taken care of.
Now is your opportunity to take control of the coming week
You just reviewed the prior week for what went right and what went wrong. You know what actions are necessary to meet your cash requirements. Your schedule is empty.
You are in control
Open your calendar, get your planner or just grab a plain sheet of paper. No need to be fancy here. Keep it simple.
Block out one slice of time each day to complete one essential cash related task. Choose task that, when completed, you know you can say your day is successful even if nothing else goes as planned.
Isn't it liberating to know cash is handled? The essentials are scheduled and you are now ready to schedule time for the work you went into business to do.
Put your observations form this week's finished and unfinished tasks in action. You can focus the rest of your time on the important work of serving your customers and clients.
I bet Monday is feeling less stressful already!
BONUS TIP: Leave some amount of time each day unscheduled. I usually leave a 30-minute block of time open in the morning and another one open after lunch. Then, if (or better yet when) the unexpected happens, you have the flexibility to solve the issue without it hijacking your whole day!
For even more tips to reduce stress, download my free guide, "7 Ways to Waste Time & Money in Business (and How to Stop It!).