I often wonder what I did with all my ‘spare time’ before having children. Whilst time management has never been my strong point, I’ve certainly become a lot better at squeezing more into my day with the demands of a young family.
I recently read Tim Ferriss’ The Four Hour Work Week, which introduced me to some new ways of working through my To Do list. There are so many different ways to complete a task – be it working through emails, cleaning the house or getting the kids ready for school, and what works for one person, might not work for someone else. This sparked my interest in learning how other people tackle tasks. We have compiled 10 of our favourite time saving tips (in no particular order, but delivered in two separate blog posts, each consisting of 5 tips).
As you can see from the below tips, Tim Ferriss isn’t the only one who has some good ideas on how to work effectively…
1. Prioritise – Less is more
We’re all familiar with the word “prioritise”, but when you’ve got 20+ things on your To Do list, it’s hard to see the wood through the trees. The key, says Anne Clark from First Step Virtual Assistant is to reduce the number of tasks that you need to get done each day.
“Write a to do list, identify 3 important tasks to address as your daily priority. Look through the rest of your list and identify what can be delegated or outsourced, so you can use your valuable time where it’s really needed,” advises Anne.
Don’t do anything else until these three tasks are completed. At least if you complete these tasks and nothing else, you will feel like you have achieved something. If you breeze
through these tasks quickly, then you can look at the next things on your list.
ACTION: Pick 3 things that you need to get done. Focus on these three items (preferably one at a time) and don’t do anything else until they are completed.
2. Set clear goals
The more focused your goals, the easier you will find it to make and prioritise your To Do list.
ACTION: Write your To Do List the night before so you can hit the ground running as soon as you wake up.
3. Get organised
Not being able to locate the calculator or stapler when you need it is one of the most frustrating things, as well as a huge waste of time.
In a recent article for Straight Up Business Talk, Business Coach Lisa Ormenyessy observes that “Not being able to find your pen under mountains of office detritus is an excellent excuse to not start yet. In fact it is reported that 3 hours a week is wasted in looking for things in arm’s length – what would you do with that extra 3 hours?
Whilst we don’t advise ‘tidying your desk’ to procrastinate, we do recommend a tidy, organised work-space.
1. Give everything a place (and ensure it stays there). Invest in some simple storage solutions, such as draws, shelves, plastic containers, a filing cabinet, or even just an in-tray.
2. Dedicate a certain amount of time each day or week to tidying up.
3. Dedicate a longer amount of time every 6-12 months to completely empty and repack draws and filing cabinet to remind yourself what you have so you can make use of it or toss it if it’s no longer useful and taking up valuable space.
Outsourcing doesn’t just mean getting a Virtual Assistant from Asia. Think about all the jobs that take up time in your week and hold you back from achieving your goals. These could be things that chew up hours of your precious time, like ironing, cooking, washing the car, etc. Consider how much your time is worth ($ value) and then think about the hourly cost of getting someone else to do these tasks. Also consider paying your kids to do some of these jobs – it’s a great way of getting them done, whilst teaching them about money and saving.
Georgia Limmer from Wholesomeness understands that many people dread cooking after a long day at work. They just want to get home and relax, so finding the inspiration to cook a healthy meal is the furthest thing from their mind. Georgia recommends saving “time for the important stuff, by outsourcing the boring stuff. Use a personal catering service to ensure healthy nutrient dense meals are on the table every night of the week”.
ACTION: Make a list of all the jobs you do each week and identify the ones that you:
1. Don’t enjoy
2. Take up a lot of time
3. Would be cheaper and easier to delegate and get someone else to do
Think of all the processes that you do every day or week – at home or at work. Many of these could easily be automated, especially if they are done on a computer.
ACTION: If you run a business with social media accounts, for example, many of these applications have functions that allow you to schedule future posts. Whilst it’s important to keep social media real and relevant with posts that are spontaneous and time-appropriate, there are some bits of information that could be scheduled to ensure that you post regularly and consistently.
There are plenty of other applications and software packages to help businesses automate their processes. Carlie Page from The Automation Coach believes that “Our biggest time-saver at work has been automating our processes so that they happen without us in front of the computer. Any repetitive emails or tasks, we create a process in Infusionsoft and have it trigger automatically. It has saved us hours every week.”
On the home front, setting a few simple reminders or alerts on your phone for regular tasks that need to be completed will help get you into the habit of completing them.
Part 2 of our Top Time Saving Tips coming soon…
What’s your Top Time Saving Tip?
Thanks to our contributors for sharing their tips:
Anne Clark, First Step Virtual Assistant – Anne specialises in the areas of administration, social media content creation and support, event planning, project management and newsletter design and maintenance. Anne’s clients say “Anne is a total pleasure to work with: professional, switched on, and fast. Seriously, I have no idea how she turns things around so quickly. I’m pretty sure she’s disguising a superwoman suit under her civilian clothes.” Check out Anne’s website: www.firststepvirtualassistant.com.au and Facebook page.
Georgia Limmer, Wholesomeness – Georgia and her husband Ben are the founders of Wholesomeness, a whole foods prepared meals delivery service. Customers can take advantage of Wholesomeness’ Online Personal Catering Service to save time and ensure they are eating healthy, well-balanced meals. Wholesomeness is “how regular people can have chef prepared meals in their own home any night of the week”. Check out the Wholesomeness website: www.wholesomeness.com.au or order a gift voucher here.
Cathy Ewald, The Electronic Lighthouse – Cathy is an experienced IT professional with a PhD in computer science and founder of The Electronic Lighthouse, an organisation which aims to help small business use technology effectively. Cathy is co-hosting a Reclaim Your Life Workshop online in April to demonstrate how these tips and more can free people to spend more time doing what they love. Check out www.electroniclighthouse.com.au and The Electronic Lighthouse Facebook page.
Sarah Higman, Kids Activities Delivered – Sarah is a former environmental educator and classroom teacher who has worked at zoos and at sewage farms before moving to rural Victoria. Kids Activities Delivered is designed and worked on around her two young children. Check out the website for more details: www.kidsactivitiesdelivered.com.au
Carlie Page, The Automation Coach – The Automation Coach helps small to medium businesses to get out of chaos and get organised which saves them time and increases their bottom line. They do this by developing automation strategies to help businesses reach their business goals and grow their business quicker. Check out their website: www.theautomationcoach.com and find them on Facebook and Twitter.
Lisa Ormenyessy, Straight Talk Group – Straight Talk Group are a South Australian-based company who specialise in supporting businesses in their community with business advice and skills to succeed in their fields. Just a few of the services they offer include business coaching, strategy development, marketing and publicity support, team and time management, as well as educational workshops. Check out their Facebook page here, as well as Lisa Ormenyessy’s profile page here.