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The business owner’s briefing: Reduce the burden on your brain

Focus more, be interrupted less… and get stuff done!

When you’re a business owner or manager, you have a lot of responsibilities. There are also many people who want to speak to you throughout your working day.


Unfortunately, that means that you may be interrupted more often than you’d like. And you have to split your focus on things you’d rather give your full attention to.

It can be a big frustration.

Many business owners and managers feel this way. You are not alone!

It’s not to say that you don’t want to help out or that you haven’t got time for people. Of course, you still care! These are your people here to help you succeed.

But sometimes wouldn’t it be nice to just sit down and complete something without being side-tracked?

Understand this: The more things you have to switch between during the day – and the more unscheduled interruptions – the greater the burden on your brain. It can lead to a feeling to total cognitive overload by the end of the day.

You’ll recognise this as getting home in a bit of a daze, and feeling like you don’t have enough energy for your family. It’s a horrible feeling.

Fortunately, the past couple of years have given us all the productivity tools that we need.

There are three key areas to focus on:
• Planning
• Automation
• Focus

This briefing will show you some solutions that other business owners and managers rely on.

They’re all included in Microsoft 365, which means some of them integrate with other 365 apps you use.

Of course, not every tool mentioned here will be suitable for you. Not everything will fit in with the way that you like to work, or the way that your business runs.

But if you can use just one or two of these tools to relieve your brain of some of its burden, that’s a great start.

Planning

One of the best ways to keep on track with what you need to be focusing on is to plan each day well.

You’re probably used to doing this already to some degree, but you can take your daily planning to the next level.

Start each day or week by creating a detailed to do list. Microsoft’s To Do app is a favorite way to create a list and keep on top of it.

The additional features really make this tool a necessity. It allows you to track, organise and prioritize all of your tasks each day. But that’s not why it’s so good.

Each task can be broken down into steps, and you can even create checklists to drill into details. And here’s the really great part – you can assign tasks to members of your team, send them reminders, and see what progress has been made.

That saves you time checking in with colleagues to see how they’re getting on, or chasing them on email.

Automation

One of the biggest tools at your disposal is automation.

Automating tasks that take up a lot of your time or are repetitive can save you hours every week. And it can do the same across your entire business.
One of the best apps to help you get started is Power Automate.

This tool lets you automate many of your business functions, from data entry and reporting, to processing forms and even invoicing. It can even make recommendations on the tasks you could automate to make your life easier and to make you much more productive.

Everyone in the business can use it. You simply create ‘flows’ using the simple low-code drag and drop tools, along with pre-built connectors. It also connects with your other apps and services within Microsoft. It can even monitor your social media accounts, posts, and form entries to capture and analyze data and trends.

If you’re not already using this tool, you’re wasting a lot of time on tasks that you don’t personally need to be doing!

Another great thing about Power Automate is its ability to extract information from print and digital documents, which can make things like processing paper invoices easier.

It’s a tool that every business needs to look at. There will be several functions you can use.

Focus 

If you find it difficult to focus on tasks without being interrupted, Focus Assist is for you.

It allows you to silence all digital interruptions for a set amount of time.

You may have already used it in some capacity, but in Windows 11 the feature has recently been updated to make it even more useful.

In Windows 10, Focus Assist gave you the ability to minimize the notifications that would distract you from the task at hand, but it needed to be switched on to work.

The updated version provides an integrated focus timer, which gives you greater control over how and when notifications should be muted.

There is also a new do not disturb feature in Focus Assist, as well as the ability to simplify your start menu, and clean up your taskbar.

Pro focus tip:
If there are notifications you really don’t want to miss, set up priority notifications under Do Not Disturb. That way you’ll never miss something vital, or a personal message.

Of course, there are countless other applications and tools that you can use as part of, or alongside your Microsoft 365 subscription. Here we’ve highlighted some of the tools that many business owners and managers find most useful.

Hopefully, you’ll finish this briefing and be raring to go, trying out applications to help reduce your own cognitive load, but also to boost the productivity of everyone in the business.

It’s not always easy knowing where to start, and which tools might be the best option for your specific circumstances.

If we can offer you any help or advice, we’d love to assist. Just give us a call.