When you’re juggling a business, a blog, a family, other projects, and everything else that goes on in your busy life, finding ways to save time is something you want to do.
Surely there has to a be a way you can make it easier?
Well, there may not be one magic spell to fix everything. But there are definitely some things you can do to make sure you can do it all.
Here are nine tips for making the most out of your time.
If you’ve ever looked at your to-do list and not known where to start, you’re not alone. Sometimes our workload can seem so overwhelming that we can spend the best part of a day deciding what to actually focus on first. But the way you do this is by prioritising. I used to just work from one to-do list. Now I have more than one. My master list contains everything I’ve got to do. Then I put these into separate daily and weekly lists in order of priority.
Sometimes, by having everything in one list, you can focus on the less important tasks, when really your attention should be focused on the more urgent ones. Prioritizing your workload based on what you need to get done straight away means you can eliminate less urgent ones and save them for another day.
2. Create a Process & Schedule
If you’ve got a daily routine, a process and a schedule for yourself, you’ll save so much time. Once you know exactly how your day is going to pan out, you’ll find yourself creating things much more efficiently. Maybe the first part of your day is dedicated to client work and the second part is dedicated to creating content for your blog and doing admin. Whatever it is, create a schedule that works for you. Create a process that you can manage. There are so many reasons why editorial calendars and freelance processes are helpful to freelancers. But the main benefit is how much of a time saver they are.
3. Break Everything Down
When a writer is sitting down to write a new book, they wouldn’t just put “write book” on their to-do list. They’d break it down into smaller tasks, like “outline chapter one”, “write first half of chapter one”, “write second half of chapter one”.
Breaking down each task into smaller processes can make anything seem less challenging. Small duties seem much more easier to complete and this also lets you see what tasks can be grouped together. Let’s say you’ve got five articles that need to be written up by a certain date. Instead of going through the process of each article until they’re complete and then moving onto the next one, why not do it differently?
You could split each article up into processes – plan, research, write, edit, submit. Then you could plan each post. Once all five are planned, you can go into the research phase. Then you can write them all up and when they’re all done, you can go back and edit them. Batching tasks up like this saves a lot more time than you think.
4. Create Templates
This is one of my biggest time saving tips that many people don’t take advantage of. If you use the same image style, layout or graphic all the time, why not create a template? That way, instead of starting from scratch each time, you’ve got the template to work from. Think about how much time this will save you. If you always use the same formatting for a client, save a template. Instead of starting every task by getting all the formatting ready, you can get straight into creation.
5. Schedule Time for Certain Things
Things like email and social media are huge time drainers. We can go onto Twitter to respond to any mentions and soon find that a full hour has passed. That’s why it’s important to dedicate specific time during your work day for these things. The first task I do every day is schedule social media updates. I don’t look through Twitter or Pinterest – I just schedule everything to go out on there using Buffer.
Then, you can schedule specific times to check your email and social media. If you have the tabs open all the time, you’ll be so much more likely to check them more often than you should. Instead of being tempted to go back and forth, just close them down. You could do it as a sort of reward – so when you’ve finished task A, you check social media. When you’ve finished task B, you check your emails. This way, you’ll stick to your priorities and maintain your focus.
6. Automate Everything
We’re at a point where not everything needs to be done manually. As freelancers, we have the ability to schedule everything – emails, blog posts, and even Instagram updates. So instead of waiting for the perfect time of day to get your Instagram photo and caption ready, you can get it ready when you actually take the photo.
This goes back to where I spoke about batching tasks together. Why not take some photos for Instagram all in one go? Then you can edit them, get the captions ready and use Latergramme to schedule them for a specific date and time. Then all you need to do is hit publish.
And this is just one example. You can schedule Facebook posts, Twitter updates, blog posts – everything to make your life easier and save time. That way, you can start working on something else and let these programs work their magic.
7. Have Responses Ready
As a freelancer or small business owner, I’m sure you get asked the same questions more than once. Whether it’s a new client enquiry or a frequently asked question about your processes, you don’t have to keep writing out the same response every time an email comes through. Save time by having certain responses ready. You can also use a tool like Boomerang which even lets you write up emails in bulk and send them at certain times.
8. Switch Off Notifications
Notifications are the devil. Seriously. As soon as your phone pings, you instantly want to check it. They’re just pure distractions to the work that you’re doing and the best way to handle this is to switch them off. Think about how much time is wasted by just checking your phone. It’s scary to think about, right? Whereas if you turn them off completely, you’re likely to forget about them altogether.
9. Organise Your Workspace
When you’re looking for something, you want to be able to find it no problem. If the place you work in isn’t organised, your time will run away and you’ll have no idea where it went. To save time and work more productively, the key is organisation. You don’t want to have things everywhere. You want to have a place for everything. Plus, if this is a place where you’re spending 8+ hours a day, you want it to look nice. Create a workspace that you love and that works for you.
Your schedule doesn’t have to be daunting. There are ways you can overcome this fear. It’s all about working smarter, not harder.