Running your own business takes a lot of energy. I mean, a LOT. This is especially true if you’ve got a day job to pay the bills while you’re getting up and running. But there are ways you can minimise your time drains and improve your productivity, every single day!
Whether you’re a full-time blogger, a part-time crafter, or an all-time hustler, there are always ways to create extra time in the day. Here, I show you some ways that’ll save you at LEAST 34 hours each week – just think of what you could do in that extra time!
Create A Routine
This sounds really obvious, but it’s surprisingly hard to stick to. Make sure that you get up at the same time every day – yes, even on weekends! Instead of having a lie in on a Saturday morning, you’ve suddenly created yourself a few extra hours in the week, just by getting up when you normally do on a weekday.
Routine also helps you to schedule in time for boring things like chores, but not procrastinate on them. So if, for example, you know that Monday at 6pm is laundry time, and you allocate a further half an hour later in the evening for hanging it out, you won’t put it off until you’re wearing That Jumper Nobody Is Allowed To See You In (we all have one, don’t lie).
You won’t think “Ah, I’ll do it later!” if you’ve put it in your diary. You’ll commit to it – and realise that, by limiting the time slot you’ve allowed for the task, you’re more productive in that time.
Time Saved Each Week: 2 Hours
Delegate Anything And Everything
For business, consider using a virtual assistant (VA) to help with the cumbersome admin tasks such as monthly invoices and receipts. It might cost a bit of cash to employ someone as a freelance VA, but you’ll be surprised at how much additional time you gain back – which you can then plough back into developing your business.
If you’re flat broke and eating beans on toast for every meal, this obviously isn’t an option. But there are still ways you can share out tasks. If you live in a house-share, make sure there’s a rota for the communal house chores – and get people to stick to it. That way, you’re not always wasting time by having to wash the pots before AND after you cook a meal.
If you have children, make them work for you! From sticking stamps on your letters to tidying their own rooms, get your children involved to help save you time in the week. This’ll help you create time for them at the weekend, too, so everybody wins.
Time Saved Per Week: 3 Hours
Use A Timer
When I’m waiting for inspiration to strike, sometimes it doesn’t. I see an idea on the horizon, and wave enthusiastically… until I realise it’s now running in the opposite direction and I’m idealess once again.
To combat this, I force myself to write anyway. I set a timer for fifteen minutes, and write just anything – ANYTHING – that comes to mind on the required topic. Words, phrases, paragraphs – whatever comes out of my head.
Usually, by the end of the 15 minutes I’m already in a flow on the project and can get it completed in good time. Without doing this timer trick, I’d sit and procrastinate the day way, hoping for inspiration to strike. It won’t: you need to go out and hunt it with a net.
Time Saved Per Week: 4 Hours
Save energy and time by thinking through your daily tasks. Do you have to go to a few places at once? See how you can take the route which encompasses all of your stops, so you don’t need to go out more than once.
While cooking your dinner or tidying the house, listen to the latest podcast that’ll either teach you more about your subject of interest, or allow you to indulge in your guilty fiction pleasure. Facetime your parents to say hello while you’re waiting for your children to finish their dinner (or for your partner to get ready for you to go out).
There are so many ways to combine tasks that we often don’t think about doing it. However, multitasking is a great way to be more productive in the time you have. Just one word of warning here: only multitask on things that don’t require your full attention. That big project won’t get done to the high standard you know you can achieve if you’re also gossiping with your mate on the phone.
Time Saved Per Week: 3 Hours
Organise With Apps
I recently treated myself to a second-hand iPad Air 2, and a whole new world opened up to me. Previously, I’d already sworn by apps available on my Android smartphone – from Evernote for capturing thoughts and images, to MyFitnessPal to stop me reaching for the biscuits – but now I have the advantage of Android AND Apple.
In fact, most apps are available for both anyway – which makes being organised even easier. Make the most of cloud computing, and save your documents using Google Drive or Dropbox. That way you can access them anywhere, for on-the-go edits or late-night scribbling.
Stay organised at home, too. Make sure you have a good filing system for mail (underneath a coaster on the kitchen does not count): try to deal with it as soon as it arrives, or at least place it somewhere that you can easily find it later on. You won’t be hunting for bills when they’re due, or looking for your latest appointment letter at the last minute – everything will be where it’s supposed to be, and you’ll save so much time from no more rummaging.
Organise your kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom in ways that suit you. You might like to hang clothes in your wardrobe by colour or by type, while other people use the ‘flip the hanger around’ technique for quick spring cleaning when that comes around. (If you’ve not heard of this, try it – you’ll save hours each year. Turn all your hangers the opposite way, then when you were the garment flip the hanger back the normal way. When it comes to your six-monthly clear out, remove anything that still has the hanger the wrong way. Exceptions are, of course, ball gowns and snow coats).
Time Saved Per Week: 2 Hours
Schedule Your Social Media
If you’re a blogger, an entrepreneur, or a socialite, your social media will take chunks of time out of your day, every day. It’s an essential part of business – and personal – life these days, but it’s much easier to handle if you put time aside to go on your social media instead of nervously checking your phone every five minutes for the next notification.
If you use social media for business, try a scheduling app such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or Tailwind for Pinterest (that’s an affliate link, for a free no-obligation trial and $15 credit if you decide to sign up afterwards).
It’s much quicker to set a block of time aside each week to write and schedule all of your posts at once, instead of doing them one-by-one and being distracted by your newsfeed. You can even set up hashtag searches and alerts on most scheduling apps to listen to key trends that might affect your business, and you’ll also be able to manage your replies to messages too.
Time Saved Each Week: 5 Hours
Make To Do Lists – And Use Them
I’m a massive fan of To Do lists, too, and there are so many list apps out there it’s hard to choose one. Try a few to see which works best for you, and make a daily To Do. I always write a daily, weekly, and monthly To Do list, as this helps keep short and long term goals in mind. (I even write a list of promises to myself every January, that I check at the start of each month, but you don’t need to go that far).
Having digital To Do lists will help you to jot things down while you remember them, and carry out tasks as and when they’re needed. I swear by the reminder function on my phone – a paper diary just won’t cut it with me: I absolutely HAVE to have something pop up on my screen to tell me to do something. However, since I started doing this, my productivity has gone through the roof – because I no longer forget to do things, have last-minute panics over deadlines, or spend hours in the grocery shop trying to remember if I need milk or not.
Time Saved Per Week: 2 Hours
Ignore Your Emails
Set yourself two or three times in the day that you’ll check your emails (or, in my case, my social media accounts). Allow yourself half an hour if you need to each time, and file things in a ‘To Do’, ‘Urgent’, and ‘Info Only’ folders. Once filed, work your way through these folders in order of importance. If it’s not important, bin it, don’t save it.
Every week, take ten minutes to unsubscribe from any email newsletter that you haven’t opened in the past seven days. This’ll save you time on deleting unwanted emails each week, prevent inbox clutter, and help you narrow down on the things you do want to read.
Time Saved Each Week: 3 Hours
Read Things Later
On that note, don’t get sucked into the black hole. If you’re anything like me, once you start reading one thing, it’s very easy to lose time as you follow links, or look up a phrase on Wikipedia, or click on a related article.
Use an app such as Flipboard or Paper to store things you want to read. Go back to them later, when you’ve got some downtime. If they turn out to be useful for your work, pin them on a specific Pinterest board, or slide them into your Evernote app so it’s easy to find them (see earlier point about being organised!).
Time Saved Each Week: At LEAST 4 Hours
Prep Your Meals
Normally reserved for those on strict diets, there’s something to be said for meal prepping. Once a week (most people usually choose Sunday), cook up big batches of food that you can portion out and either chill in the fridge or freeze for later. The same goes for snacks: take time to bulk-vegetable-chop and you’ll always have crudites on-hand.
Meal prep lets you do two things: first, by planning your meals in advance you’ll only need to shop for those ingredients – so no dallying in the aisles or being distracted by online deals. Second, it takes the same time to cook a dish for one as it does for six – meaning you’re saving five meals-worth of preparation and cooking time every time you do this.
Time Saved Per Week: 6 Hours
Make Time For Yourself
You’re going to face burnout if you make all of this extra time in the week only to fill it with work-related stuff.
Every day, schedule in half an hour for yourself. This might be first thing before the children wake up, or last thing at night, or even a mandatory lunch break. Whenever it is, use it to do something you really love, whether that’s taking time to drink an artisan coffee, reading your favourite blog, having a bubble bath, or going to the gym. However you relax, make sure you have time every single day away from work (and other people) to just be.
Time Saved Each Week: 0 Hours But Man It Feels Good.
How do you save time each week? I’d really love to hear from you, so post in the comments below!