and other ramblings of a small business owner

Other Ramblings

Job Tracking

I’m thinking that I’d like to develop a system for job tracking. I use Todoist as a task manager and absolutely love it (well, saying that I’m not in love with the Windows 10 app but it works great using the browser version).

Todoist is perfect for tracking individual tasks, but I’ve never found a way of keeping a master job list that I’m happy with. If I record the overall job in Todoist it’s not granular enough – what I need there is my next action. But then, when I tick off my next action I need something that shows me the status off the job. Have I confused you yet?

I spent a bit of time looking for ‘job tracker software’ yesterday morning but as usual ended up feeling frustrated because I couldn’t find exactly what I needed. Maybe I should be using different words to search for it? There’s plenty of task managers (like Todoist) out there, and also loads of project management and collaboration tools – but at a glance I’m not sure if either are what I’ve got in mind. I’m sure there must be something that does what I want, I just need to find it…

What I’m thinking of is something that I can enter all jobs into, whether they’re one-off ‘update this web page’ jobs or multi-task projects. Each job will need a unique id assigned to it, a way of recording status, notes, and ideally a way of recording sub-tasks for the more complicated jobs.

I think I’ve got four potential approaches to the solution:

  1. Create my own relational database using Access
  2. Find a piece of software that I install directly on my computer
  3. Find a WordPress plugin and set it up as a private website that I can access anywhere
  4. Sign up for a cloud-based service where my data is stored on someone elses server

There are pros and cons of each approach. I suspect the cloud-based service would be the easiest to find, but is my least favourite approach. I know I’m going to sound terribly old fashioned, because everything is cloud these days, but I really prefer to be in control of my own data. I don’t want to sign up for something where it’s all stored elsewhere and I lose everything if the service-provider goes pop. If I do look at cloud solutions an absolute essential would be some kind of export option so I can regularly save my own backup. But I’m going to look at the other options first.

I’m thinking the WordPress plugin approach might suit me. I work with WordPress all the time, so am comfortable with that. It would allow me to run the system online so that I can access it anywhere (not just in the office). But I would have full control over the data – I could take backups of the whole thing and move it to a different server if necessary. It kind of feels like it would have the good stuff about a cloud-based solution but with a level of control that I’m happy with.

Time for some research!

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: databases, job tracking, software, systems

Should I care about 118?

Can anyone tell me if I should actually care if our business details are in the 118 directory? I’m pretty sure we don’t get any business from it.

My problem is that every now and then I get a call from them asking to check my details. It’s supposed to be every 12 months but I’ve just had my second call from them within a couple of weeks and it’s so irritating. My work generally needs quite a bit of concentration and I have enough distractions without having to answer these sorts of phone calls.

The poor woman who just phoned me got quite an earful. But she was stubbornly keeping to her script instead of acknowledging that I was trying to say I’d already confirmed my details a couple of weeks ago… At least engage in a human conversation with me!

Should I just see if I can get our business removed from the directory? It’s not like we actively signed up to it in the first place. Will it cause an apocalypse or will it make no difference apart from stopping the phone calls?

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: directories, interruptions

Where are all the women business writers?

I think I might have started on an interesting journey.

There are a few blogs that I follow because I really like the approach of the bloggers. When I say ‘follow’, I mean that I have subscribed to their sites and actively read the updates that land in my inbox. I know that I’ve found someone interesting when I open the email and find myself following the links to read the full article. These are people that I’d like to sit down with over a pint and pick their brains.

But, I realised the other day that all the people I follow are men. In other areas, I find that I lean towards the female – for example, I listen to more female singers than male. And when it comes to fiction my favourite authors are female. Not that I don’t like male singers and authors, it’s just that I like a strong female role model … if I’m having a low energy day then I listen to Madonna to give me some extra Raargh.

So, it suddenly felt wrong that in business I’m not following any women. After all I’m a woman and I run a business! So, I started looking for some inspiration and came across this interesting article on the Guardian website: Imposter syndrome and time issues: why women don’t write business books. And, you know what – my business library is a bit lacking in women business writers. It’s not that there’s none, but it’s a bit male-dominated.

Is it because, as the article suggests, there are a lack of books written by women, or is it because for some unconscious reason I’ve been leaning towards books written by men. Hmmm, neither explanation is very inspiring.

So, I’m actively looking for:

1. Some BRILLIANT business books by some brilliant women (I’m just finishing one now and will post a review shortly)

and

2. Some great blogs written by women on the subject of business / productivity / self improvement

Come on ladies, I know you’re out there.

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: women in business

Argh, need to listen to my own advice

OK, I’ve learnt an important lesson. I find myself quite often explaining to clients the importance of keeping their websites backed up and any software running on the up-to-date. Why is this? Because if you leave them too long without updating the software you stand a good chance of getting hacked.

I’m currently working on a new design and rebuild of this site and what have I found? It’s bloomin’ been hacked, hasn’t it? It’s a good job that I’ve opted to add the content back in post by post rather than importing en-masse (even if it doesn’t sound like a very efficient approach) because it’s giving me a chance to strip out all those nasty little links to nasty little websites.

So, once I’ve got this new version of the site up and running I’m going to do a monthly back up and software update to keep everything ship shape.

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: websites

Great time management article

Just found this great article on time management by TentBlogger: My Time Management 101. Definitely worth a read.

Every now and then I try categorising my tasks as:

  • Urgent & Important
  • Urgent & Not Important
  • Not Urgent But Important
  • Not Urgent & Not Important

but end up with everything being ‘Urgent & Imporant’ or ‘Not Urgent But Important’. I guess everything seems important to me! Is that because I only do important things (probably not) or just that I have difficulty seeing anything as not important?

For example:

  • making that update to a client’s website is obviously important and needs to be done as soon as possible (though isn’t necessarily urgent)
  • however putting an invoice I’ve just paid through our bookkeeping software can wait indefinitely, sovaldi sale but is still important – after all we need to keep our accounts up-to-date so we know where are financially

Both of those I would put in the ‘Not Urgent But Important’ box, but it’s clear which one needs to get done first. Problem is I end up with 50+ tasks in the ‘Not Urgent But Important’ box and then I start struggling with how categorising them in that way helps me. Oh dear, time for some time management angst…

Actually, the important thing is that I know what needs doing. I’ve got a system that I trust to record all my tasks, and, yes there’s a lot of them, but they’re not going to get forgotten. I just need to review the list regularly and make sure that the most important things get done first.

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: time management

Relaxed on the inside?

How’s this for achieving relaxation inside and out? Last night I downloaded a guided relaxation recording to help me sleep. It was doing really well – had started at my feet and worked up to my head and I was really beginning to feel the benefit. And then the narrator started on the internal organs – being told to relax my intestines was just too much for me. I’m sorry but being told to relax my insides would have been enough for me, discount cialis without naming my organs. Is it me or is that a bit weird?

Think I need to find a different recording…

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: relaxation, stress management

Back on track

I’m pleased to say that we’ve got our worklog back on track. Digging out the previous week’s backup did unearth a couple more missing tasks but I’m now feeling much more confident that it’s up-to-date. The lesson I will take away from this is to not mess with Excel filtering on a vitally important spreadsheet – from now on I’ll always work on a copy if I want to manipulate the data. Not the most efficient way of working, but much more efficient than having to recreate a broken spreadsheet!

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: task management

Technology or human error?

I’ve just discovered something rather worrying. We track our current task list on a spreadsheet which we call our ‘worklog’. It’s a central place for us to record everything that needs doing, whether it’s client work or business tasks, which we can both access. The idea is that we have a reliable place to track the jobs we need to do rather than keeping it all in our heads or on random bits of paper. We’ve been using it for a few years now and it’s worked really well for us. Until this morning…

What I discovered this morning is that a load of what was in there has been duplicated and a load of other stuff has gone missing (and not because they’re tasks we’ve completed). Eek! I’m trying to figure out if it’s something I’ve done but there’s so much wrong that I can’t see how I could have accidentally done it without noticing. Or is it because I was using some filtering to inspect different parts of the list? But filtering a spreadsheet shouldn’t mess with the data should it?

What’s going on??

I’ve spent the last hour removing duplicate entries and brainstorming anything that should be on there … but the whole point of it is that I shouldn’t have to remember everything so I’m sure there will be things I’ve missed. Might have to dig out last week’s backup, but of course that will only give me what was included a week ago, a lot of which we would have done anyway. Am also going through emails from clients to make sure I’m not missing anything there.

What a nuisance!

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: task management

The importance of business planning

My last post was a review of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People last September – now that doesn’t make me feel like a highly effective person! But I’m still here, check still reading lots of business books and working hard at my business.

The last year has been an interesting one. We moved into our office last June and our finances instantly took a turn for the worse. But we didn’t let that stop us. We tightened our belts and did some serious financial planning to make sure that we started bringing in enough money to cover costs and our living expenses. As a result I feel much more in control of our finances and have got a detailed budget for the different areas of running the business. And I’m pleased to say that business has picked up again and our finances are looking healthier than they have done for quite a while.

The last few months we’ve had a lot of work on, here so we’ve mostly been keeping our heads down and working at keeping on top of our workload, but this week has sparked off a new phase of business planning. Wednesday turned into an “Emily you MUST do some business planning” day. First thing was my weekly business breakfast at Tregenna Castle, St Ives where we were given inspirational talk on branding by Joy of Approach (thanks Joy!). We (that is myself and my partner) then went off for a meeting with a business mentor – this was a guy we’d met a couple of times before but hadn’t seen for a loooong time. It was great to catch up with him and as always he was overflowing with ideas on how we can develop our business.

The result of this is that we’ve agreed to set aside a half day each week to concentrate on business planning and implementing the ideas – with the focus on taking action. It’s not that we haven’t been thinking about business planning for the last six months, but we do tend to get caught up in working for the business rather than developing the business. So, now we’re looking at things with renewed vigour. Let’s see what we can achieve!

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: business planning

Been on holiday … to Cornwall

Are you ready for a bit of a sob story? We had a holiday to Spain planned this week. It was going to be our first trip abroad for about five years. My parents flew out a few days before and we were to join them on Tuesday for some serious relaxation.

But … the French decided to strike on exactly the day we were to fly out so our flight was cancelled! As there are only two flights a week from Newquay there wasn’t an awful lot we could do about it. So there went our Spanish holiday.

However, we decided to make the most of it. We live in Cornwall after all which is the perfect place to have a holiday anyway. And we’ve had some glorious weather. So we’ve been real tourists for the last few days – went for a wander round Newlyn and had an icecream from Jelberts; went for a walk along the coast to Botallack and had dinner at the Queens Arms (yum); and had a day out shopping in Truro, with lunch at good old Fodders.

Not quite what we had planned but a really chilled out few days. Back to work with a vengeance on Monday!

Category: Other Ramblings | Tags: relaxation