053: Journaling & Documenting: The Amazing (And Almost Too Simple) Shortcut to Killer Productivity, Multiplied Results and Increased Sales

Most problems in Robert's business are not fixed by a crazy solution or a fancy piece of software. It's so easy to think that the reasons that you're not doing well or that you're not happy with your business is because you don't have one-click upsell, or because your website is not mobile-responsive, or your prices don't end in some magic number.

It's tempting to think that everything that has been ailing us and our business can be fixed with a magic wand. But, usually it's something really simple. Usually when you get tripped up or stalled/delayed, etc., it's typically because of these reasons:

  • Scope creep: you plan on something simple and the more you think about it, the bigger and more exciting it gets and before you know it, it's a huge beast of an undertaking and way more than what you intended. All of a sudden, you've gone from something that would take you one week to implement to an entire year.
  • Procrastination: there are a small number of activities that WILL make us money and an unlimited amount of activities that will not make us money and it's a lot more fun to sit around and think about all the non-money making ideas instead of just starting work on an actual money-making idea.
  • Distraction: letting yourself focus on a variety of things that keep you from our goal. For example, you might sit down in the morning to work on your e-book, but then you get an email about a product you must buy and next thing, you're reading about that product, buying that product, and hours have gone by.

How do you actually stick to completing everything that you've started? Today, we're going to talk about a real system to get you through the things that trip you up.

Journaling and Documenting

Have a Checklist. If you don't have a checklist, you're going to miss important steps.

For example, while recording and publishing this podcast, there are some steps that Robert has to go through each time.

It may seem silly to have a checklist for something that seems easy or that you do "all the time", but it's easy to miss a step which could affect your outcome. Sometimes, when you do something over and over and achieve mastery on it, you will blow through it faster and faster and take it for granted which can result in being sloppy. Adhering to a checklist will keep that from happening.

Most, if not all, of Robert and Lance's courses contain checklists. If you joined his podcast course, Podcast Crusher, there's a checklist for everything along the way, from setting up your first podcast to marketing your podcast and everything in between.

They also do this with Webinar Crusher. There's sections on how to create our PowerPoint presentation, how to find attendees, running and recording the webinar, and post-broadcasting/remarketing. They have a checklist for each part.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar is great because if you have that master calendar you can easily see things, delete them, move them around, etc. You can have multiple calendars (such as a family calendar, a business calendar, etc.) and you can share these different calendars with different people, but the screen YOU are looking at has all the different calendars in one place, in different color codes.

You can synchronize the calendar to your smartphones, tablets, etc. You can set it up to give you alerts/pop-ups.

But, there are a few caveats about using calendars to be aware of:

  • Appointments on the calendar are good until you start loading up to the point that when you look at today's agenda, there are 20 different things on it, which is entirely too overwhelming.
  • This is also what happens with the "To-do list." It also sounds good in principle but the same thing happens with the overwhelming amount of tasks. It grows faster than you are able to complete anything!
  • Some people swear by tools like Evernote, Dropbox, Gmail, etc. and if that works for you, great, but just in Robert's personal experience of meeting people who use these tools, they work for maybe a month or two before the system overtakes them. Too much time is spent managing that system as opposed to getting real things done.

Get a Help Desk

This is a real shortcut to efficiency and outsourcing effectively.

Step 1: If you're answering customer support queries over email, don't do that. Use a Help Desk instead. Emailing regarding customer issues is not efficient or effective.

From a customer point of view, if someone has a problem with one of your products, and they receive a response, they can always have it to refer to. They're not sending emails to an individual person where there is the back and forth of "I sent it", "It got lost", etc. Instead, they are posting the query/problem on a central help desk system.

Most help desk systems (Robert and Lance use ZenDesk), issue "tickets" whenever a customer initiates contact.

From the business point of view, you CAN have only yourself responding to tickets at first if you are a very small "outfit." But, if that becomes too much work later on because your business has grown, and you need to hire an extra person, you really don't have to do too much. You just have to create an account for them in the Help Desk system so they can access tickets.

If ZenDesk is currently out of your price range, there is a free option if you have a webhost that utilizes CPanel. There should be a QuickInstall button, you can install a free help desk solution called OS Ticket.

If you don't have CPanel, you can go to DoubleAgentHosting to get hosting that has the CPanel and OS Ticket capability.

Install the Help Desk solution in the "support" folder (aka page) of your website. If your website was www.backupcreator.com, then the Help Desk solution would be at www.backupcreator.com/support.

For whatever external freelancers or employees you might add to your Help Desk, you'd want to have a process in place for answering tickets.

For example, the customer wants a refund. There is a "script" that you'd want your Help Desk person to go through before a refund was issued:

Every Help Desk program allows you to have "canned responses." These are just responses that are pre-written and can be chosen from an automated system based on what sort of customer query comes in.

Step 2: Don't just start creating "canned responses" right off. You and/or your business partner will want to answer tickets yourself for a little while to see what the most common questions are coming in.

Step 3: After a few weeks, take some time to sit down and group your messages.

  • Step 3A: Responses. Figure out 2-3 responses to your most common messages.
  • Step 3B: Assignments. This is where you hire your freelancer or employee. Some queries/problems they are just not going to probably have the answer to. This is where they can assign the complicated queries back to the correct parties (in Robert's case, he is the programmer for their plugin's, etc.)
  • Step 3C: Procedures. The follow-through on the request, such as a refund.

This is where a Checklist or a Procedure Document would come in. For example, you'd have a Document/Checklist that would say, "If Customer wants this-send this email. If customer wants that-assign back to Programmer, and so forth.

About 80% of the queries/issues that come in will and can be handled by your Help Desk personnel. The other 20% will have to probably be assigned to one of the business seniors/owners but this process cuts way, way down on the time that ownership has to spend working on routine tasks.

Journaling/Journal Entries

This doesn't need to be paragraphs long. It is just 3 quick sentences about something you did TODAY. What is the purpose of this?

You're doing it with the consideration that at any one moment, an emergency could happen and one of the business owners/partners could become unavailable due to illness or injury.

You need to have procedures and checklists in place that would be easily replicated by another so that the business keeps functioning.

You can use any word processing software but Google Docs is a good option because it's basically a Word document that you can share just like a Google Calendar.

Then, you go to your Google Doc and post 3 quick sentences about what you did today that you'll need to know about later.

Some examples are:

  • What steps would I need to take to record and publish a podcast?
  • Quick directions on how to get your text messages to display on your iPad.
  • Directions on how to get your Google calendar to display on your iPad.
  • If you're the programmer, it could be how you fixed something on your WordPress blog (like the "white screen of death").

If you're the accountant, it might be who you gave refunds to that day or whose accounts you fixed.

If you're in charge of marketing, it could be how many affiliates you contacted that day.

Remember, these are just a few bullet points about little quirks that you may forget several months down the road and will need again but more importantly, they are a documenting of what you've worked on or "secrets" that you know so that if something were to happen to you, the business could keep working because your partners can pick up right where you left off instead of guessing where you've left things.

Just a warning: Do not use this for passwords. For that, use a password manager such as LastPass.

Hiring Freelance Employees Efficiently

Many people want the ego trip of hiring a team and looking at themselves as just the delegators while everyone else does the actual work.

The problem with being just the delegator is that no one else is going to do the job as good as you.

You need specific procedures/checklists in place, so while you do get to the point where you cannot do everything yourself, you DO need to do at least some things yourself at first so that when you make the directions and procedures for it, they are complete and can easily be followed without you having to micromanage tasks.

A good place to hire freelance employees from is Upwork. Upwork freelancers install a program on their computer that will show what their screen looks like while they are billing you for time.

A mistake people make when hiring employees is in not requiring them to create "X" per day. For example, if you're going to hire someone to be your Facebook ad manager, hire them on the basis of them creating 3 new ads per day. That way, they're not just dilly-dallying for a month and then at the end, rush to make a bunch of stuff.

If you take Robert and Lance's Income Machine course, and discover how to make a Thank You Page, Opt-In Page, etc., what if you hired someone to once a day look at your site and create new ideas for free gifts/free reports, and created a new Landing Page and Opt-In Page.

Even if you only hired them for a month, at the end of the month they will have created 30 new reports and 30 new Landing Pages and Opt-In Pages. If you hire someone on a 30-day basis to create 30 items at X per day, then, you know after the first few days if they are going to work for you, and if not, you can move on to the next freelance employee. That's better than waiting for a month and they don't deliver at all.

Closing Thoughts

Robert uses a system called 4 Daily Tasks. What you did for your 4 Daily Tasks are definitely something that you could include in your journal entries to document your goals and productivity.

Checklists are a powerful tool for productivity and efficiency. Document all of your processes from your podcasting to your Help Desk procedures. Checklists ensure that no steps are missed.

Everyone thinks they can hire an exact clone of themselves and they're going to do exactly what you would do in the exact same way. It never works that way.

This is why having procedures in place that are the same across the board will be far more efficient for your business.

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Filed in: Archive 1: 2012-2016PodcastSystems

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