I’m constantly battling with time. There is never enough of it. I always have multiple activities competing for it. And once it is gone, I can never get it back again.
It is a constant challenge. These are some of my secret strategies that I use to wrangle and save time.
1. Work to Your Natural Rhythms
First thing’s first. When are you most productive in the day? Are you a bright and early do it in the morning person, or a night owl?
Figure out when you are most productive and then schedule your time accordingly. What this means for me is that I know I am most creative first thing in the morning. So this is my natural writing time. If I don’t get it done straight away, then I will struggle as the day goes on.
Identify which activities fit best with your energy levels and build your schedule around them. This will help save time.
If you try and do hard stuff when your energy is low, life and your business will always feel like a struggle. And nobody wants that!
I call this the energy dance. Catchy name right?
Work with your natural daily energy cycle and move and flow through your day simply and easily.
If you are a lark, work hard in the morning. If you are a night owl, sleep until 10 and work until late. The great thing about running your own business is that you get to choose your hours.
2. Plan Before You Begin
Next up is plan, plan, plan. No matter how organised (or unorganised) you might be, you need a plan in place to be productive.
Decide what you are going to do and when you are going to get it done. Figure out what your critical path is (the activities that need to be completed first) and put those milestones into a simple plan. Most importantly – stick to it.
2. Use a List
Lists are useful for pretty much every aspect of life. From shopping to to-do lists around the home. Write a list of everything you need to get done on a daily basis for your business.
When you feel yourself getting distracted, refer back to the list of activities that you need to achieve that day and that week. This will keep you focused. Make sure you tick things off when you get them done. This will also give you a great feeling of accomplishment.
3. The Law of Three (a la Brian Tracy)
Another great way to save time, write down a list of the activities that you need to accomplish in a week. What are the most important things? What if you could only do three of those things? Ask yourself if those 3 activities will really move your business or your project forward.
Bin the stuff that doesn’t.
4. Chunk Your Time
Time is extremely valuable. Especially if you are working and homeschooling during the most recent lockdown. Your time has never been so precious.
Split your time into chunks. Decide how long you are going to spend on an activity and then work to that time. Turn off all distractions during this period so that the activity gets 100% of your attention.
5. Set Deadlines (and stick to them)
Your work will fill the amount of time that you give it.
If you really want to achieve something fast, then give yourself a challenging deadline and put it out there. This might sound scary but the rush will make you go for it even more!
Tell other people that they can expect a result at a particular time and you are much more likely to deliver.
6. Create Systems
If you have activities that you do over and over again or need to have the same conversation with different people, then create systems that will make the work simply and easily.
This will mean that you are not having to do the thinking each and every time. And you won’t feel bored or resentful having to repeat yourself all the time. Systems can be as simple as having templates in place, scripts to work from, or a simple mind map that lists out the key activities.
7. Keep Track
Save time by checking in with yourself daily and weekly and track your progress.
Did you do what you said you were going to do yesterday? Was it important? Does it need to be done today? How are you doing against your schedule? Are you staying on course or going off track?
Learn from what you are doing and what you aren’t doing, and figure out how you can improve.
8. Create Visual Clues
Put up a poster where you can tick of each goal accomplished. Give yourself large scale visual reminders about what you have decided to do in your business.
A friend of mine, Joanna Penn has a big chart on her wall to remind her that her main goal every day is to write 1000 words. She gives herself a big tick each day that she achieves this goal. And leaves it blank when she doesn’t. This shows her that she is keeping on track against her book writing target.
What visual clue can you adopt to keep you on top of your game?
9. Create Space for Your Work
It is critical that you have a workspace that feels comfortable and motivating for you to work in.
I’m not going to tell you that you need to carve out space in your house where none exists, but it’s really important that you have a place where you can work that is conducive to getting stuff done.
Make sure that you have a place that you can put all your work stuff away at the end of the day so that you can truly relax. It will free you up mentally to be more productive.
10. Take Breaks Regularly
This might sound obvious, but it is something we all often forget to do.
Your brain and creativity will thank you. Working continuously without breaks is exhausting and your work, and possibly your health, will suffer. Go for a walk. Do some exercise. Meet a friend for a coffee. Make sure you actually make space for you time and downtime.
11. Learn to Say No
Something else we are probably all guilty of. It is so easy to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way. But taking on too much can cause your work to suffer, as you won’t be able to concentrate on individual projects and clients.
Decide that you are going to take control of your time and you decide your agenda, not others. It’s not selfishness, it’s self-preservation. Build yourself up slowly, and don’t be afraid to say no.
12. Set Clear Boundaries.
When 9:00 am starts… stop doing laundry and the dishes and cleaning the house and doing the food shopping.
Respect that your work takes priority during whatever work hours you set and don’t deviate. I know it’s hard, and I know that you are probably good at multi-tasking but you would be surprised how much time those little things take up in your day and away from your business.
Stay on Top of Time and Succeed
Staying on top of ourselves, and learning how to create a structured day, is a skill that so many of us are lacking. But it is crucial if you want to save time. It is so easy to get distracted, lose focus, and be pulled in a million directions.
By following these rules, you will find your own path to staying on top of time, to ensure that your goals are met, and your business will thrive.
Do you have any extra steps that you take to stay on top of time? Let me know over on my Facebook page, and share your top tips!