Four tips to help you stop wasting time on emails

Stop wasting time!

In today’s tech-savvy world, you’re only ever a click away from checking your emails. You could be up the side of a mountain or deep in a jungle (depending on your 4G coverage, of course) and you’d still have access to what’s going on in the wider world.

 

Be it human curiosity or the fear of missing something important, we’re all guilty of checking our emails more than we should. In this blog we explore the top four tips all serious Limited Company contractors and freelancers should adopt, in order to reclaim wasted email management time.

 

Tip no. 1 – Get to the point

This is a tough skill to master and few have managed it, but if you can it will surely save you time when replying to client emails. Before you compose your reply, think ‘what do I actually want to say?’, then just write that – it’s that simple!

 

This skill saves you (and your client) time in two different ways – you spend less time compiling the email and they spend less time reading it. They will also tend to reply to you in the same manner, so over time you’ll both create a harmonious working relationship, that doesn’t waste each other’s time.

 

Tip no. 2 – Have a good clear out

If you could unsubscribe from the junk mail that came through your front door, you would. So your inbox should be no different.

 

Take a couple seconds to unsubscribe from each spam email you receive. You may have signed up to a newsletter a few months ago, thinking their content will be of use to you. But if you haven’t read any of their recent communications, then it’s time to get rid.

 

Tip no. 3 – Organisation is key

Chaos is defined by the sensitivity to slight changes in conditions, whereby even small alterations can create enormous consequences. Now imagine your inbox without any organisation – utter chaos right?!

 

Make the small alteration of adapting a filing system for your current and past clients and include filters so that they automatically end up in their correct client folders. The amount of time you save will be the enormous consequence you need.

 

Tip no. 4 – Have different accounts for work, personal and spam

Your work email should be just that, for work. So ensure your email address is related to your Limited Company name and that all past, current and future client correspondence is kept here. This is the account you’ll probably monitor the most, as it will form part (or all) of your client communication.

 

Your personal email should be where friends and family’s emails go. This account is for emails that are important to your personal life, but not so much that they will interrupt your working day. Save them for after hours, a break in your working day, or for weekends.

 

Finally your spam account is for when you need to provide an email address to access content that you’ll only ever want to look at once. You’ll probably never use this account, but you’ll be grateful for it’s existence! You’ll also never end up on a random third party mailing list, which you’ll only have to repeat point number two from this blog!

So there you have it, four great ways in which to reduce the amount of time you spend on your emails. Do you have a tip that has saved you time? Share it with us on one of our social profiles, we’d love to hear it.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

The top fourteen things successful people do every day – part 2

Secrets to success and productivity

 

In our last blog we highlighted the top seven secrets to productively, as shared by 200 ultra-successful people – including a few billionaires and Olympians. As a Limited Company contractor looking to win and impress clients, you’ll find these tips useful.

 

In this blog we look at the next seven answers these people gave to the following question:

 

‘What are your secrets to success and productivity?’

 

8. How many balls are you juggling?

It should only be the one. Ensure you’re only ever working on the most important task at any one time, then allocate your remaining time to any other tasks in relation to their importance.

 

Remember that your understanding of importance may be different to that of your client’s, so cross check your priority list with theirs to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

9. Keep a notepad with you at all times

How often have you thought of a great idea, then completely forgotten it?! Be it virtually on your smartphone or an actual notepad and pen, ensure you have the tools to capture those great ideas before they escape you.

 

10. Touch things once

Be honest, how many times have you opened an email or started a new task or project, only to walk away from it a few moments later, thinking ‘I’ll deal with that later’. If you’re human (and we’re fairly sure you are!) you’ll be able to relate to this.

 

Consider how long each task will take you to finish, then get on with it. It will help your time management, free your time up for other things and above all, make you feel pretty smug for completing it!

 

11. Find your energy source

Some people swear that their 5am run does wonders for their energy levels throughout the rest of the day. (Apparently) they feel energised, more focused and sharper to take on the task at hand.

 

Whilst you may not be a super keen runner, there’s something that can be said for for finding a passion and routine that gives you that extra boost throughout the day. Food gives you fuel, sleep gives you recovery and exercise can keep you focused – so create your own perfect energy source today.

 

12. Follow the 20/80 rule

From those successful people questioned in the study, many described following the ‘20/80 rule’. This is where 80 percent of results come from only 20 percent of activities. As a successful contractor you’ll know which activities will drive the greatest results. Remember to focus on these tasks and ignore the rest.

 

13. Your morning routine is everything

Habits breed behaviour patterns, so if yours is positive and provides you with a good start to the day, then your day will follow suit.

 

Have breakfast, drink plenty of water, take five minutes to replenish your mind and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Nurture your body and mind for a productive day.

 

14. Delegate

So delegation isn’t always suitable when you’re contracting, but in your everyday business life it certainly can be. Instead of thinking ‘how can I do this?’, consider ‘how can it be done?’

 

Take your accountancy needs for example – why spend hours trying to get your head around complicated and time consuming accountancy, when there are specialist contractor accountancy firms out there who will keep you compliant and up to date with the latest legislation, whilst ensuring you take home your maximum contractor pay.

 

Speak to our specialist team today about the services we provide and how we can clear your mind from accounting worries and free you up for contracting success.

 

Final thoughts

No one likes to feel overworked and overwhelmed, so try some of these tricks and tips today.

Got some of your own tips that have rocketed you to Limited Company contracting success? Share them with us! We’d love to hear what you do to ensure you’re at the top of your game.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

The top fourteen things successful people do every day – part 1

What successful people owe their success to

 

Are you a successful person? What does that even look like? How do you measure your victories and what do you do to ensure you remain successful? Whilst you may already have your own winning recipe, it’s always intriguing to know how other successful people measure their merit.

 

In a recent study by Kevin Kruse, 200 ultra-successful people (including seven billionaires and thirteen Olympians) were asked what their number one secret to success and productivity is. In this blog we explore the first seven of fourteen points, which they claim to owe their success…

 

1. Time travel

OK, so we’re not talking literally, but by understanding what to do now so that your future self will be a success is an art that very few have mastered, but all should try to come to grips with. So if you’re able to anticipate what skills and resources you’ll need before you actually do need them, you’re ready to make the most from the present with some past preparation.

 

(Pat on the back to past you!)

 

2. Eat dinner at home

How many times have you been working on a project and thought that you could just keep going and going and going? Even if the amount of work is limitless, that doesn’t mean your time should also be.

 

Understand what is important in life and ensure you give each area the same amount of attention. A clear mind and work / life balance can mean greater freedom to succeed. Even simple things like eating your dinner at home rather than at your desk can give you the balance you need to break the cycle.

 

3. Forget the to-do list

Some may find this one hard to do, but imagine binning your to-do list and scheduling tasks in your calendar instead.

 

By leaving incomplete items on your to-do list you’re effectively causing yourself undue stress and anxiety (and who needs that?!), as they will also remain on your mind. By actioning tasks on the day you’ve set to complete them, your mind will never be over cluttered with work that isn’t due for completion there and then.

 

4. Say ‘no’ to almost everything

Unless saying ‘yes’ is going to have a positive impact on your day, say ‘no’. This is going to take guts the first few times you do it, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it your day will only be filled with positive and rewarding tasks.

 

The same can be said for those pesky ‘extras’ that clients try to sneak into your daily tasks, which do not feature in your contract. It’s ok to say ‘no’, unless you’re willing to take them on, (with some contract negotiation).

 

5. Forget meetings

As a contractor, your time is just that, yours – unless of course the client is paying for it. If they try to squeeze in a meeting after hours, or ask you to arrange one which is outside of your contract’s remit – it’s just not cricket.

 

6. Check your email a couple times a day

Forget checking your emails every time one pings in, as successful people find it beneficial to check their emails only once or twice a day. If you react to every single email as soon as it arrives in your inbox, you’ll be distracted from the task at hand.

 

So unless you need an email to complete what you’re currently working on, leave checking your inbox until your allocated time.

 

7. Make the minutes count and not the hours

How many times a day do you consider when things are done? For example, maybe breakfast is at 7am, lunch at 1pm, home by 6pm then bed by 10:30pm. Now consider how much time you waste between those hours?

 

As the old saying goes, time is money – so don’t let wasting it cost you. With 1,440 minutes in the day, make sure that when the metre is running you’re making the most from the minutes you have and not just the hours.

 

Final thoughts – for now

Changing behaviour can be challenging, but if the rewards are great then it’s worth taking the time to adapt. Why not try a couple this week to see how they could increase your professional success?

 

If understanding how 20 percent of effort can produce 80 percent of productivity intrigues you, then make sure you catch our next blog that covers this, plus so much more.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Five things you might be doing on LinkedIn to lose clients…

You could be about to lose clients and not even realise…

As a successful contractor that knows the importance of a well nurtured LinkedIn profile, you’ll no doubt be a regular when it comes to updating your information and communicating with past and prospective clients.

 

But what if your current activity was doing more harm than good? Jenny Winslow, Senior Marketing Executive at Intouch Accounting highlights the top detrimental management methods contractors are guilty of using and why you may need to adapt your strategy today!

 

1.Organisations do not want to hear your stance on politics

With Brexit, the recent change in Prime Minister and the upcoming US election, it’s hard not to have an opinion on what’s going on and how you think it will affect you. Whilst you may consider yourself to be a clairvoyant political mastermind, your LinkedIn feed is not the place to air your thoughts on what the recent developments mean for everyone.

 

Your prospective clients care about your skills, experience and dedication to your professional field – not whether you believe Mrs May is going to do a good job. So save your political views for your other social profiles, or amongst your friends.

 

2. Don’t ignore inmails

Almost everyone is guilty of ignoring direct messages, but regardless of who the person is or the reason for their message, they have still taken the time to reach out to you. So out of professional courtesy we should all respond, even if it means letting them down.

 

You never know who this person may know or the real reason for their outreach, so ensure you treat every incoming message as a possible introduction to a new organisation.

 

3. Resist selling before you show the goods

It’s always exciting when a prospective client accepts your connection request and is open to hearing about who you are and how you can benefit their organisation. But whilst it’s easy to get carried away, resist the urge to relay your professional life story to them the moment they accept your request.

 

Allow them time to look at your profile and to understand who you are and why you may be of value to them. You could even ask what they are looking for in particular so you can tailor a more focused message to them.

 

4. Remember what LinkedIn is really for

LinkedIn’s purpose is for professional self promotion, seeking new employment opportunities and general business-oriented social networking. But once in awhile a funny gif, cheeky news story or non work related item may appear in your news feed.

 

Whilst the odd ‘like’ or ‘comment’ may be harmless and a good way of showing your personality, too many actions could damage your reputation. The same can be said for reacting to anything that could be seen as inappropriate or offensive.

 

There are other social networks which are more appropriate for relaxed behaviour, so be sure to think twice before clicking that button.

 

5. It’s not all about you

Whilst your LinkedIn profile is about showcasing your skills and experience, it’s also worth remembering that it’s not all just about you.

 

Use LinkedIn to it’s full potential, by networking with potential clients, any organisations that you find interesting or would like to work for, or even other contractors. Join groups that you can contribute to and share information with. The more you appear to others as a valuable resource within your chosen field of expertise, the less you’ll have to sell yourself to prospective clients.

 

Final thoughts

LinkedIn is truly a fantastic tool and it’s hard to imagine the professional world without it. So what are you waiting for? Log into your account now and see where you can improve and who to start connecting with. Your next contract could be just around the corner…

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

 

Forget London! The UK’s IT scene is setting up camp elsewhere…

The UK’s IT scene has moved…..but where?!

Calling all contractors! If jellied eels, pearly queens and doing the Lambeth Walk aren’t your thing, then you’re not alone! With over inflated costs for rent and living, more and more professionals and businesses are looking to move outside of England’s capital.

 

But where are they heading? In this blog we pinpoint the hotspots and what to expect when you get there.

 

Newcastle – Wey aye, man!

Famous for giving us Alan Shearer, Lucozade and the Angel of the North, Newcastle is part of what makes Britain great. But what about IT contracting?

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £30,000

Software developer: £26,000

 

With over 25,000 people employed within the technology sector, Newcastle has been referred to as ‘Silicon Shore’ and is fast becoming one of the places to go for contract work in the UK.

 

Which companies are based here?

Sage, the only technology company to feature in the FTSE 100 is based in Newcastle and HMRC’s Digital Delivery Centre is also located here.

 

Even though Newcastle’s location means it’s one of the furthest cities from London, it hasn’t hindered it from becoming one of the up and coming technology cities of the UK.

Angel of the north

 

Edinburgh –  That’s barrie!

It’s not all haggis, kilts and Dolly the sheep, Edinburgh has quite the IT scene developing. Almost everyone has heard of the video game Grand Theft Auto, the brainchild of Rockstar North, which is based here.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £39,800

Software developer: £29,000

 

With a far lower cost of living, shorter commute time (if any) and opportunity to work for either a small or large IT company, there’s something in Edinburgh for every type of IT contractor.

edinburgh

 

Bristol – Gert lush!

2013 was a big year for Bristol, as the city was voted the best city to live in with the second highest national average wage. It’s also the most environmentally friendly city in the UK and is quickly becoming the city to relocate to.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £30,500

Software developer: £29,000

 

Bristol is well known for its opportunities, both within large corporations, as well as vibrant start-ups and SMEs. With the recent addition of the high speed data connection and HP choosing Bristol for its UK head office, it’s clear why it’s quickly becoming one of the tech cities in the UK. ‘Jobs a good’un!’

Bristol

 

Leeds – Ey up keka!

With more than 45,000 people employed in the digital sector and the likes of William Hill, Asda and SkyBet all housing their head offices here, Leeds is a powerhouse in its own right.

 

Average wages

Software engineer: £31,000

Software developer: £25,000

 

Leeds has it’s very own internet exchange – the IXLeeds, meaning it’s totally independent from London.

leeds

 

Where will IT contracting take you?

So if the thought of life as a Londoner doesn’t float your boat, it’s clear there are many other options available to you. Across the UK you’ll find a growing and vibrant IT industry, that’s showing no signs of slowing down.

 

Whilst location might be important for your work, it doesn’t have to be for your contractor accountant. With 24/7 Cloud-based access to your accounts and direct contact with your Personal Accountant, there’s no need to waste time in making special trips. Speak to Intouch Accounting today about how their expert, tailored advice and support can complement your contracting career, no matter where you are.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Be honest, which of these 5 bad contractor habits are YOU guilty of?!

Which are YOU guilty of?!

For some contractors it’s easy to fall into bad habits, as working independently can mean focusing on the job in hand and putting your well being second. Here we share five of the worst contractor habits, with some ideas for how to break them…

 

1  Working 24/7

This habit harms you (you become exhausted and stressed), your client (you don’t do your best work and/or it’s late) and your professional reputation (others hear you’re not reliable).

 

Set your working hours and stick to them. Minimising distractions means you get more work done in less time and as we all know, time is money!

 

Prioritise your work/life balance and take some “me time”.

 

2  Undervaluing yourself

It can be difficult to decide what to charge, but avoid the pitfall of charging too little.

 

Usually when something is priced too good to be true, it often is. So why should this be any different for the amount you charge? If you quote below market price for a project, clients could suspect there’s something wrong.

 

Check to see how much similarly skilled contractors charge, so you know that you’re on par with the industry average. That way, you’re not going too far either way off the richter scale.

 

3  Not planning ahead

Avoid a “feast or famine” situation by keeping a detailed schedule of all your projects so it’s easy to see where there may be a conflict or, conversely, a gap which you could fill.

 

A steady stream of contracting jobs is essential to keeping the flow of money coming in, so ensure you plan ahead.

 

4  Not being able to say ‘no’

If you keep a work schedule as described above, you’ll know immediately if you’ll have time to accept a particular contract. Don’t be tempted to take it if time is short.

 

It’s even more vital you learn to say ‘no’ if you feel your skills and experience leave you ill-equipped to actually do the work. A challenge is one thing, but accepting a contract you’re unable to complete amounts to professional suicide.

 

5  Sitting at your desk for too long

It’s tempting to keep working for hours but you won’t be doing yourself any favours. You’ll lose concentration and sometimes leaving a piece of work and returning to it can give you a fresh perspective.

 

Take a quick break every couple of hours or so. Why not go for a walk, listen to some music or meet up with a friend for a coffee? It will do both you and your contract the world of good.

 

If you’ve fallen into any of these habits don’t despair, as breaking them just takes a little effort and will undoubtedly help your business.

 

Have you succeeded in breaking a bad contracting habit? Why not leave us a comment on our facebook or twitter pages.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.