When starting out in business, we look forward to the time when our massage schedule is full, when we do not have to spend so much of our time and energy finding clients or worrying about finding clients.
What we don’t realize at that early stage of our career is how the large amount of effort we spent bringing clients in our door merely transitions into trying to keep the balance of managing the busy practice we created.
This is where owning a business can feel overwhelming. If left unmanaged this feeling can impact us in negative ways and contribute to burnout. I have coached business owners who expressed they were more overwhelmed by being successful than they were in the beginning phase of building their practice. The reason for this is that the ongoing requirements of running a business can be draining if those tasks are not put into a system that supports you.
As a business owner of 30 years, I continuously strive for ways to do more in less time. I have always admired people who seem to accomplish more in the same amount of time. People who had the talent to work smarter and not harder. After several attempts at replicating a similar outcome, I came up with a concept I call “batching.”
What is Batching?
Batching is simply the art of reducing the amount of time you spend doing similar tasks and perhaps doing those tasks in bulk. This concept is also called leveraging your time and can be defined as achieving the biggest result with the least amount of effort.
When simplified to its most basic concept, batching is about thinking ahead, compiling any and all tasks together that can be grouped, and creating systems that not only support your effort but multiply your future effort—all at the same time.
Batching is not multitasking; it is a habit or behavior you create within yourself that applies to everyday tasks. It is the art of putting tasks together that can be completed with a little more time once, instead of repeating that task at separate times every day or every week.
I am going to share one of my batching secrets with you. It involves in-store purchasing. This is something that works so well I share the concept with sole proprietors often.
This concept batches three business needs at the same time that conserve time and effort tremendously. Observe how minor shifts in your behavior can create major benefits.
Batching When Purchasing
I always keep a list for both home and business needs on my phone. When it comes time to shop, I prefer to select one store at which I can shop for my needs for both areas of my life. If I have items that are at a different store and can wait for purchase, I transfer them to the next week’s list to batch my needs together for the next trip.
When checking out, I always make two separate purchases: one purchase for personal and one purchase for business, even if it’s only one business item (this is important). I use my business account for the business purchase and my personal account for the personal purchase.
What I have accomplished with this behavior is:
- I have presorted my business expenses for tax time.
This habit makes tracking expenses easy and creates a balance sheet of expenses and income when it comes time to do taxes. You can easily and quickly add up 12 months of expenses from your bank statements. This also creates an instant budget for you because most of us tend to purchase the same things for business and you can see what you consistently spend each month. You are also able to see where you had additional expenses and what for those were for. This saves you time and simplifies budgeting, tracking expenses and taxes.
2. I have reduced the number of times I run to the store for personal or business needs, therefore saving time and effort.
Once I started this behavior, I found myself planning further ahead and had fewer last-minute shopping for items I forgot or had procrastinated about purchasing.I can then deduct the mileage on my car for these shopping trips because I used it for a business purchase.
3. If I am making a business purchase every time I go to the store, then the mileage between my office, the store and back to the office are deductible. Therefore, I am utilizing my resources in the most efficient way possible while creating an expense that is viable for my business—and at the same time, picking up what I need for my personal life.
Tracking mileage is something that can make a big difference for your business expenses for taxes. Many times, we don’t track mileage because it feels like a hassle, or we just forget. When you make the time chore of tracking mileage easy, it gets done. If every time you go to the store you are completing a business purchase, then you already know you need to track mileage. There are apps you can download to your phone to help simplify this task even further.
Put Batching to Work for You
The above is just one example of how batching your tasks together can quickly compound your free time. To incorporate batching in your life, try the following:
- Start thinking ahead in terms of combining efforts for your business and personal life together, and when at all possible, use business as the reason to complete the task.
- Avoid spontaneous purchase trips or errands to complete a task. If the task is not pressing or urgent, group those tasks together and complete them at one time to conserve your free time.
- Observe the single tasks in your life and start to envision how to make those tasks serve more than one purpose. An example would be to set aside a specific time to return phone calls or texts instead of multiple times throughout the day.
Lastly, one of the positive side effects of batching is that you learn how to pace your efforts and energy better. This is especially beneficial for you as a massage therapist, as it is vital to develop behavior that impacts the energy required to perform massage. Being able to conserve energy becomes imperative to success. If you need to rest, you must first have the time to rest, and learning to batch your tasks creates this time while decreasing the mental stress of task overload.
My challenge for you is to not only think smarter but behave smarter by batching components of your business together that allow you to have more time to enjoy your personal life.
About the Author
Amy Bradley Radford, LMT, BCTMB, has been a massage therapist and educator for more than 25 years. She is the owner of Massage Business Methods and the developer of PPS (Pain Patterns and Solutions) Seminars CE courses (ppsseminars.thinkific.com) and a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved CE provider.