As a business owner you’re no doubt in touch with the struggle to find time to get it all done. But what we often mistake for lack of time is really a lack of focus.
It’s tough to admit, but often the real reason you feel like you can’t keep up is that you’re wasting time where you shouldn’t be. Don’t shoot the messenger!
Starting your day in your inbox, spending time on the wrong things, and using up all your energy making small and inconsequential decisions all contribute to the feeling of not having enough time. So let’s neutralize that feeling as much as possible.
Try the following tried-and-tested tactics to start getting the right things done on a consistent basis. Once you implement these easy tips, you’ll get faster and more effective results in your business — in the same amount of time.
1. Schedule Your Time Suckers
The most toxic time suckers are social media and email. And let’s face it, more often than not, these tasks are not your priority.
They need to be dealt with at some point, but they don’t need to be done first (and it’s not the end of the world if they get passed over now and then).
When you continually check Facebook or email throughout the day, even though you have every intention of “only checking one thing,” you inevitably get pulled into the world of other people’s problems and schedules and can stay there for hours. This is not what’s getting you paid!
- Schedule email and social media in time slots on your calendar.
- Set a reminder when it’s time to leave.
Try to utilize the time of day when your energy and willpower for more creative work is at its lowest (for me, it’s around the 3pm mark). And if you must check your email first thing in the morning, set a time limit for being inside your inbox. Get in and move on as quickly as possible.
2. One Priority Task Per Day
Completing your most important task first is a well-known tactic for getting things done. Even if that one important thing is all you manage to do all day, as the weeks go by you’ll have accomplished more than most people.
Having more than one big task on your plate multiplies your chances of procrastinating, and tends to get you nowhere in your business. The less you have to focus on and the fewer decisions you have to make to get started, the better.
No matter what you are working on, there are only a few things that are truly important, so prioritize wisely.
- Set your priority task the night before so that you can jump right in the next day.
- Make sure you don’t do anything else until your priority task is finished. This means doing it before email, social, phone calls, meetings… everything. Eat that frog.
3. Limit Your Decisions
Simplify your day to reduce decision fatigue. The fewer decisions you have to make, the better.
Every time you have to decide something small, you are depleting the energy you need to make more significant decisions for your business. For example, things like:
- picking an outfit
- what to have for dinner
- when to start work
- when to stop work
- when to run your errands
- when to check emails
- when to schedule meetings
… they ALL take up decision making energy. So, the faster you automate, bundle, or eliminate these decisions, the easier your day will get and the more productive you will be.
- Create a list of decisions you make every day.
- Pick one thing from your list and figure out a way to eliminate it from your daily decision-making quota.
For example: Pick dinner for each night the week on Sunday and write your choices down. Stick the list on the fridge.
4. Temptation Bundling
Combine a short-term, feel-good task with a long-term, beneficial task. Temptation bundling is where you bundle behaviors you are tempted to do with actions that you supposed to do, but often neglect.
The idea is to make it easier to perform a behavior that is good for you in the long-run (like scheduling social media posts) by combining it with an action that feels good in the short-term (watching Netflix). When you bundle the tasks together, you can (happily) accomplish both.
- Create a two-column list.
- In column one; write down all the things you enjoy doing — the guilty pleasures, the things you might not be making time for but really want to be doing.
- In column two; write down all the tasks you know you should be doing, but often procrastinate on.
- Browse your two lists and see which activities you can link together.
5. Schedule A Day Off
Take time off to avoid burnout. It’s a surprisingly easy concept, yet this one is so hard to do (or to feel okay about doing).
There’s a lot of guilt that comes with taking a day off when you’re building a business (and juggling the rest of your life along with it). But guess what? The fastest way to burnout is robbing yourself of the downtime you need to re-focus and re-energize.
Many freelancers spend too much time worrying about how to increase creativity and get work done faster, and not enough time taking care of their physical and mental well-being.
No matter what your situation, you should be taking time off so you can regain focus and get better at what you do and how you do it. AND to reconnect with yourself and your loved ones so you can stay positive and refill the motivation tank.
- Schedule a consistent day off (or two) every week
- Put the dates on your calendar
Scheduling will help eliminate any guilt you feel for not working, simply because you have planned for it and allocated the time already. If you MUST work seven days a week, be sure to give yourself at least one full evening off — which includes no cooking, chores or any other household stuff.
Ready to make some tweaks to your routine?
Getting more done isn’t really about fitting more into your schedule. What it’s really about is prioritizing what’s necessary and using smart systems and strategies to leverage your time.
Experiment with a few of the tactics we covered today and see if they can improve the way your work and focus your energy more productively.
Do you have any simple techniques for multiplying your time? Share them with me over on Twitter!