Maintenance tasks are all those that you do on a cyclic basis for upkeep. They are not sexy, but they make you sexy! Getting these tasks down is often the foundation of your success and happiness and what is sexier than that.
It could be anything with a recurring need – groceries, cleaning, organizing, exercising. Tasks that might be checked off for one cycle, but you know you will be doing them again next week, month, or year. For entrepreneurs, there is also any number of repetitive tasks such as outreach, marketing, accounts, and taxes.
You can manage your maintenance tasks better with a range of different practices. The first thing that will make follow-through easier that you may overlook is getting clear on the purpose these recurring tasks serve and your boundaries for implementation. A second key to accomplishing these tasks is setting yourself reminders. The third source of support is automation. The fourth aspect is to actively plan which allows you to manage the load on your time and energy. A fifth method of managing maintenance tasks is to batch activities together. Last, but not least, you can develop your systems for meeting these needs.
Make it Purposeful and with clear Boundaries
Get clear on how getting these tasks done on a regular cycle makes a difference for you. If you do not consider them important or motivating, find ways to eliminate or radically reduce them. Knowing that these tasks are a priority means that you make time and space for them. You know what it looks like to meet your requirement. It might be completing all the items that have accumulated since the last pass or it might be getting a certain number done.
One way to effectively reduce the burden on your time and energy is to use reminders. You do not have to keep all the things that need to be done in your head, but can use prompts like putting it in your calendar, asking another person to make sure you do it, or just using a post-it in a prominent place. This effectively brings things back into your schedule that may otherwise be lost in the sea of tasks you have to do.
There are many ways to streamline by using automation. You can use a calendar app to automate reminders on a specific repeating timeframe and to keep appointments. You can schedule social media posts, emails, payments. All of these reduce the burden on your time and energy once they are up and running. It is worth the initial investment for the long-term payoff of control over output.
Make a Plan
Some aspects of maintenance are annual or biannual. So think about how you will service those infrequent maintenance tasks. For example, preventative home care such as painting, oil changes, or changing filters. Other things might be seasonal making them short-term such as yard maintenance or taxes. Then there are the things that may repeat all year long at various intervals such as invoicing, cleaning, and client connection. Lastly, there are always those things that are unexpected such as when an appliance breaks or damage occurs, or you underestimate how much time something will take, so build some slack into your plan. For these reasons, it is useful to have a plan for the month, the week, and the day.
Make your plan not just in terms of goals but also in terms of the demands of the tasks. Consider which ones take more out of you in terms of time and energy and which are refreshing – intersperse and add downtime accordingly.
Group similar tasks together to increase efficacy and productivity. This might be invoicing, interacting with social media, or placing an order. Having several elements of the same type to work on sequentially means that you are only setting up once and have a specific focus.
Another advantage of batching is that it promotes a predictable familiar schedule. You can schedule clients routinely on the same days with the same timetable or do accounts work at the same time each week.
If time and energy are short, considering just doing enough until the next time frame and letting that be ok. Some tasks such as marketing and connecting with your audience could have an unlimited amount of possibilities. Here it is useful to block out time and identify specifically where your focus is needed. Where are your boundaries around these tasks? Which ones are necessary versus optional?
Your system is a combination of all the above elements. You have your plan of short and long terms tasks and a way to monitor completion and the ways that you add efficiency by automating or batching. Taking the time to identify the steps in your process keeps it streamlined and on track. When you have a system it can become a habit that you know will get the results that you want. You just need to check in once in a while to make sure that the system cannot be improved. Your system can include frequency and outsourcing and checks for quality.