The Importance of Managing Time Effectively: Setting Realistic Timescales and Other Tips
November 27, 2017
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schedule-planning-startup-launching

Whether you're an entrepreneur or are employed by a large-scale company, time management is important. However, most people struggle to manage time efficiently and often get bogged down in non-essential tasks.

 

Without the ability to manage time efficiently, you will miss deadlines and fall behind on assignments. This will ultimately lead to unhappy clients/customers and increased stress. Thus, it is essential to master time management skills.

 

In this blog, we'll provide you with three tips for ensuring that you efficiently manage your time.

 

Start Early

 

Procrastination can damage your reputation and business. It's best to start early as this allows time for errors. Often people leave assignments till the last minute, which causes unnecessary stress and sometimes sloppy, inadequate work.

 

Try making a to-do list to keep yourself motivated

 

Break Large Assignments into Smaller Tasks

 

Breaking large assignments into smaller tasks help ensure that progress is being made. Sometimes, large projects may feel overwhelming and you may struggle to know where to start. Smaller tasks can make the project seem more manageable.

 

Try setting weekly or daily goals

 

Set Realistic Timescales

 

Setting realistic timescales or even overestimating deadlines can help prevent problems and delays. If you finish early, great – everyone will be happy. If you finish late, that could be the end of your career or business.

 

Realistic timescales also prevent you from becoming stressed as you won't be trying to accomplish too much work within a tight period of time. The above tips, such as breaking a large assignment into smaller tasks, can be used to determine a realistic timescale.

 

Try to complete the task two days before the actual deadline

 

Still struggling to manage your time effectively? For more useful tips and suggestions, check out some of our other blogs like our article on how to optimise your daily schedule for maximum impact.

 

The OM Team

How to Optimize Your Daily Schedule for Maximum Impact
November 7, 2017
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optimise

Optimising your schedule for efficiency is key. Whether you're balancing multiple responsibilities or tackling a stressful position, making the most of your working day can be a challenge. Thankfully, this is one subject that has received a ton of research.

Drink Coffee at 9.30 am and 2 p.m

Caffeine is an essential part of any workday. However, did you know that there are certain hours during the day that are the most effective for drinking coffee?

It all has to do with cortisol levels. Cortisol is a natural chemical that promotes alertness, which means that caffeine is most effective during periods of decreased cortisol.

Medical research reveals that cortisol levels typically peak about 30 to 45 minutes after waking. For most people, this means that cortisol levels drop at about 9.30 a.m and often they don't peak again until noon.

Most people also typically experience an afternoon slump around 1:30 to 5 pm. So, 2 p.m is the ideal time to have your second cup of coffee.

Take a Break

It may seem unproductive to take breaks, but research suggests otherwise. According to Science Daily, productivity dwindles after one hour so taking a quick break can help you to refocus. Breaks have also been proven to help sustain concentration and energy levels.

While most employees in the UK (the BBC reports 1 in 5), don't take lunch breaks. Lunch breaks have numerous benefits, not least of which include greater productivity, well-being, and job satisfaction.

Send E-mails in the Morning and at 2 p.m.

Research conducted by HubSpot revealed that e-mails sent at 6 am were more likely to be read, while e-mails sent at 4 p.m (just before the end of the day) had the lowest click-through rate. While different studies have reached different results, most agree that early morning and about 2 p.m are the best times for effectively sending e-mails.

Group Tasks Together

While it's commonly believed that multi-tasking increases productivity, this isn't actually true. A study conducted by the University of Michigan discovered that people were 40% less productive when multi-tasking.

It's actually more effective to complete similar tasks at the same time; for example, try scheduling next weeks meetings during a two-hour block. This will allow you to free up time for the rest of day to get things done.

The OM Team

Who are you looking for?
October 14, 2017
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skillshare

We all spend hours these days browsing the web through our smartphones mainly but sometimes without any real objective. There may be one particular reason for logging into Facebook but once you are in there, you’ve forgotten what that was and somehow you are watching random videos and losing valuable time.

Opus Matrix is a welcome alternative network that keeps you focused on connecting with key people and enabling skill-sharing opportunities with like-minded individuals and business owners.  With a full profile, your skills and interests will be findable through our member search and many of our members will be looking for someone like you for their next project or business venture.

An important section to complete, when editing your profile is to say who you are looking for. The more specific you are the better. Many people join with the objective of finding someone to work with.

For a more detailed request, you can also complete the skillshare form. This will show you a list of members with that criteria but will also set up an email alert so when someone joins the site with skills or jobs which fit what you are looking for, you will receive an email with details so you can welcome them to the site.

Here are the top 5 people on the site right now:

  1. Novelette Ellis - For classic and modern bespoke couture, Novelette Novalis is the name you want on the label. Novelette Ellis is a professional fashion designer creating men’s and women's clothing in Peckham, London. Each piece is designed and sewn individually by her. We are focusing on menswear but offer fantastic womenswear as well. Prices on our clothing change from time to time, depending on the fabric. All fabrics are sourced locally, and we plan to travel to Paris in February to source new fabrics.

 

  • Jane Quinn – Mi World Consultancy - I started miworld to help people organise their businesses for growth. I was part of a team that launched an award-winning product so understand the challenges that an increase in business can bring - Be prepared to be surprised!

 

  1. Anita Oleksy - Behind every knitter is a huge pile of yarn. Chat to me about all things knitting, blogging and fashion.

 

  1. Marilyn Mountford - 'Behind Closed Doors' tells the fascinating story of the studio built by George Romney and its history, available now from the website http://behindcloseddoors.co 

 

  1. Ferial Puren - Join the Ignite Life Community and collaborate with like-minded people on their transformational journeys. Invite your friends to join the community of people who are choosing to come alive, to create the future that we were born for…

If you would like to be featured in the next newsletter, all you have to do is be active on the site, post some blogs, update your profile, make connections and gain enough points to reach a top 5 spot.

Our recent competition has come to an end and Novelette has won!

This time we are offering a £50 prize for the best fully completed profile and £50 for the most active user of the site. The winner will be announced shortly after New Year and the winner will receive the prize as an Amazon voucher.

Good luck to all members and please contribute your recent blogs for extra points too.

Here’s the recent blogs from our members:

Ever had a Clothes Encounter In The Business World

When will our proverbial ‘water crisis’ become urgent enough for us to start paying attention?

The Importance of Sleep: Your Life May Just Depend On It

 

The OM Team

5 ways to improve your business cash flow
October 13, 2017
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cash flow

Profit is always a top priority for entrepreneurs. Whether you're just getting started or are already established, you may be looking for a way to boost your cash flow. Cash flow is important as it allows companies to make investments and purchase necessary resources without delay. To help you boost your cash flow, this blog provides five top tips that entrepreneurs found most effective.

1) Incentives for Early Payments and Penalties for Late Payments

To encourage customers to pay their bills or invoices on time, using a payment system can be a good idea. Providing incentives for early payments can encourage customers to pay earlier, while penalties decrease the amount of missed payments.

As your company's cash flow depends on invoices being paid, setting up a payment system is essential.

2) Evaluate Old Contracts and Expenses

Established companies often have outdated and old contracts with suppliers. These contracts should be assessed regularly, including researching any recently emerged suppliers, to make sure you're still getting the best deal. There may be a company that can better meet your needs.

Similarly, any outgoings should also be assessed. There may be direct debits that you no longer need like that Spotify account or printing service. Eliminating these expenses can increase your overall cash flow.

3) Look for Ways to Improve Efficiency (Upgrade Material and Train Staff)

Another great way of increasing cash flow is by ensuring that both staff and equipment are operating efficiently. Old equipment can slow down the production process, which ultimately decreases cash flow. At the same time, employees may not be using the best or most efficient processes and as a result, may be wasting valuable resources.

4) Stretch Out Payables

While some suppliers are unhappy with bi-monthly payments, stretching out payable can help spread expenses across the month. Instead of paying all your bills at the beginning of the month, spacing this out can spread out expenses and ensure that you have enough cash flow for the whole month. This is a particularly great technique for cash-poor companies.

5) Determine the Best Areas for Investment

Analytic tools, such as Google Analytics, can be helpful for making smart investments. Through assessing the data provided on these platforms, you can ensure that money is being spent on successful marketing campaigns. This data also helps companies use resources efficiently, eliminate any unnecessary outgoings, and ultimately increase cash flow.

These are just some of your options for increasing cash flow. Ensuring that you have enough cash flow to last the month, is undoubtedly important and techniques that work for some companies may not work for all companies. For more business advice, check out some of our other blog posts for Opus Matrix.

The OM Team

The Importance of Sleep: Your Life May Just Depend On It

Are you feeling overworked and tired? According to leading neurologist Matthew Walker, author of Why We Sleep, you're not alone. Sleep deprivation is a very real problem in the UK as roughly 66% of adults in developed nations fail to get the World Health Organisation recommended 8 hours of sleep.

The Harmful Impacts of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation can cause numerous health and mental problems. In fact, sleep deprivation has such serious impacts on our well-being that over 20 large-scale experiments have conclusively confirmed that it can lead to an earlier death.

For example, an adult sleeping only 6.75 hours a night, without medical help, is only likely to live till their early 60s. According to Matthew Walker, sleep deprivation negatively impacts every part of your body. With nearly 50% of adults trying to survive on 6 hours or less of sleep a night, this is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed.

The Social Stigma Against Sleep

Why then is sleep one of the first things we sacrifice when life gets busy? Matthew Walker believes that the importance of sleep has been undervalued and there is a significant lack of information on the harmful impacts of sleep deprivation.

It also certainly doesn't help that Western society equates success to a lack of sleep. In Western society, productive and successful people don't sleep – just look at Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill's claims of only sleeping a few hours each night.

Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

However, by sacrificing sleep, we are also sacrificing our well-being. Matthew attempts to communicate this message and challenge the social stigma against sleep in his recent book Why We Sleep.

Why We Sleep takes a thorough look at the benefits of sleep: better mental health, creativity, ability to lose weight, and even sperm count. It also presents information about the many drawbacks: increased risk of cancer and heart attack, impaired judgment, shorter lifespan, a greater chance of disease, and more.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem facing modern society.

After reading Why We Sleep, you'll have a new perspective on the importance of sleeping at least 8 hours a night. Though if reading the full book may cause you to lose sleep, The Guardian's article The Shorter You Sleep, The Shorter You Live provides a good overview of the basic facts and messages within the book.

The OM Team

What’s the Most Important Thing to Focus on When Building Your Business?
September 20, 2017
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business

Surround yourself with skillful people

Starting a new business can be a daunting task. It's difficult to even know where to begin. Unsurprisingly, many budding entrepreneurs often start by asking: 'what's the most important thing to focus on'? Well, according to the co-founders of FoodStirs, surrounding yourself with smarter or more talented people is one of the most important things.

Surround Yourself With Skilled Individuals

In a recent interview with Entrepreneur Network, co-founders of FoodStir (a baking service for children) explained some of the benefits of surrounding yourself with skilled individuals. For example, co-founder Greg Fleishman stated that multiple perspectives are helpful for making sure you hire the best candidates.

From selecting potential candidates to creating new business plans, skilled individuals can be a great asset to the company. After all, as the common saying goes 'the whole is only equal to the sum of the parts'.

Retaining the Best Employees

Not only do skilled employees need to be recruited and hired, but they also need to be retained. Employee retention can be particularly difficult with talented employees as headhunters are often looking to swipe the brightest and best employees with unmatchable offers. One way of making sure this doesn't happen is by creating a strong and healthy corporate culture.

Creating a Healthy Corporate Culture

A recent article by Forbes argued that a healthy corporate culture is vital for corporate success. A healthy corporate culture can be defined as an atmosphere where all employees feel valued and work together.

As a result, this often leads to a number of corporate benefits such as increased employee retention and productivity, better quality goods and services, and even improved company reputation. It can also help to attract skilled employees.

Key Take Away

In short, it is extremely beneficial to invest in corporate culture as it is the employees that often determine the business' success. To ensure your company's success, attracting, hiring, and retaining skilled employees should be a top priority. The overall outcomes of investing resources to create a healthy corporate culture are well worth any expenses.

The OM Team

How to discover who you are as a person to succeed
August 29, 2017
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success

Discovering who you are as a person will take some experimentation and even failure, but in the long run you'll be better positioned for success. Whatever stage in life you are, it's important to stop and assess how you got there and where you would like to be.

People are prone to take the wrong path in life based on lots of factors and influence from others. Sometimes it's our parents that pushed us into the career you are in and now you are wondering why you are even interested in it.

We all have unique personalities and characteristics that fit in different situations. If you hate your job it could be that your personality is too strong for the bland atmosphere. If you feel that you can no longer take orders from others, perhaps running your own business would better suit you.

Michael Phelps struggled with running and dancing at school because of his strange body type. However, he soon discovered how his body could make him and amazing swimmer and he preserved with it to great success.

Some personality traits can also be deemed negative like stubbornness or OCD but these can be especially useful to be successful in business and stay focused on your goals.

The OM Team

Is your lack of self-confidence holding you back?
August 25, 2017
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confidence

We all go through stress in life from moving house or having a baby or changing jobs to getting an assignment in on time. Perhaps you have lots of problems right now and they all seem to be happening at the same time. It's easy to say that everything will be fine but life is a rollercoaster and you never know what's around the next corner.

In a recent study, it was found that one of the key things people are concerned with is being confident. For some, they are naturally confident or even overly confident in everything they do but many successful people always have a niggling issue with their self-confidence. This can lead to an increase in negative thoughts which leads to them holding back from doing what they would like to do.

For example, there are budding entrepreneurs out there who would love to start a business but don't want to be seen as foolish. Others may lack the confidence to ask for a pay rise or carry out a presentation at work for fear of being laughed at.

Richard Branson is a well-known successful entrepreneur but he's also known for being dyslexic and this affected his self-confidence to get started initially.

The answer is to tackle things head on. The more you throw yourself in at the deep end the stronger swimmer you will become. Many business owners refer to themselves as a furiously paddling duck and that's what business is like. If you tackle something you are not comfortable with you'll get a deeper understanding of yourself and feel better about the whole thing. Once you are set up in business, you can also employ others to do the tasks that you aren't completely comfortable with.

Opus Matrix

How to deal with social media during holidays
August 1, 2017
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social media holiday

‘Summertime and the living is easy!’ supposedly but what’s the reality for business owners. With a long list of tasks that need completing yesterday, the average entrepreneur can surely not afford to spend time doing nothing. Even if they desperately want a break, many don’t as time off often means wasted time that could have been spent growing the business. However, a holiday can be key to reassess your situation and work out a refreshed strategy with a clear head. In order to take a break, look at what tasks can realistically be put aside or ticked off before you go. In the same way, it’s good to list important jobs that need to be continued if you are to have time off. Who will manage the books, answer enquiries or sell to new people?

There are a number of plates that must keep spinning and increasingly, one of them is social media. Your potential customers now expect businesses to have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus and they will most likely connect with you there as the first port of call. What if a good business opportunity arrives in the form of a tweet and you are not there to see it, without your internet connection or phone on a beautiful beach somewhere? The truth is that that person will assume that your account isn’t active and stop following or even believe your business has ceased trading! That can be a nightmare for public relations so being able to engage with an audience, anywhere and anytime is essential. This is when a Social Media Manager can really help your business and help you to enjoy a relaxing holiday, hassle-free.

OM can advise on promoting, engaging and sharing via your social media platforms so your account can grow and clicks through to your website will increase. Get in touch and see what we can do for you over the holiday period. Many businesses tend to work in collaboration with us so they can always be assured that their social media is being reviewed on a daily basis, while they get on with other tasks.

If you find that you don’t have the time for social media and find it hard to grow, then contact us for more information and help. Simply having a profile on Opus Matrix can work well to help you get found and be shouted about through our social media channels.

The OM Team

Juggling Motherhood and Running a Business
motherhood

Juggling motherhood and a career is something that I have recently spent a lot of time considering. While I am excited about becoming a mother, I am also worried about my career. I have very strong career goals, but also don't want to miss out on my child's growth and development. Entrepreneurship may just be one way that women (and men) can do both.

Things to consider...

There are many benefits to running a business. Running a business or freelancing allows great flexibility in terms of work hours and location. This means that you could work after your child has gone to bed or while they nap and from the comfort of your own home. However, on the other hand, it also requires that you can multitask and devote enough time and effort to both.

In order to successfully run a business and juggle motherhood, it is important to have a good support system. Whether it's your partner, family, or friends, a good support system is essential as running a business and motherhood are both time-consuming. You may simply need someone to clean the house during a busy week or care for your child while you attend an important meeting or meet a deadline. It would be impossible to juggle so many important roles without responsibilities occasionally conflicting.

While running a business undoubtedly has many advantages, there are also some disadvantages. Entrepreneurship comes with a certain degree of risk. You may not be able to predict your monthly income or may suffer financial setbacks. My father was an entrepreneur and growing up our family went through many financial highs and lows. I don't believe that children need to be expensive, but some financial security is required to meet their basic needs. Therefore, it may be best to have savings before starting a business or a partner that can help provide some financial security.

From a personal perspective...

From a more personal perspective, freelancing allows me to continue to pursue my career goals despite being heavily pregnant. However, one of my biggest problems is motivation. It can be challenging to be motivated to complete assignments after not having slept well or when there are a million chores requiring my attention. I have two tricks that I find particularly useful when I'm struggling with motivation:

  • Setting deadlines

I find it very useful to set deadlines (even for open-ended assignments) as this prevents me from waiting until the last moment. I also find it helpful to break longer assignments into multiple deadlines so that I don't end up overwhelmed. These deadlines help me to stay focused and accomplish my goals, while also juggling my other responsibilities.

  • Leaving the house

I sometimes find working from home particularly challenging due to the number of distractions (chores, husband, etc.). Thankfully, this can easily be addressed by leaving the house and working in a coffee shop or library. Leaving the house also breaks up rather solitary days.