Work, sleep, work, sleep, work, sleep. This is often an all too familiar pattern of lifestyle when you are running your own business. There never seems to be time for anything else. You are constantly being pulled in so many different directions you just don’t know when you are going to have time for yourself. It makes you start to wonder why you started the venture in the first place. It can really keep niggling away at your psyche. Often wondering what the trick is in how to create more time for yourself. Fear not though, I have pulled together all that we have learnt from the many successful business owners we have worked with here at Virtalent to provide you with ways to maximise your time and make a little more for yourself.
Delegate all you can
As an individual, you have a finite amount of hours to get things done. However, you can increase the time you have to get things done by delegating to others. By using their time, you have access to as many hours as you need support for and as a bonus you can also access their expertise, often meaning the task will be completed in a shorter space of time than you could have managed yourself. So, it is important you take the time to decide where your time is most valuably spent, then delegate anything else to others. That may be a team member or a Virtual Assistant.
This is the most effective way to generate more time to get things done. If you don’t feel you can delegate your tasks out, you are going to struggle to generate any time for yourself. If you want your business to grow or to have time to enjoy the fruits of your labour, delegation is an absolute must.
Plan your day, week, month
One of the tasks that often takes up an inordinate amount of time is actually deciding what needs to be done. I have often found myself jumping into my work and then realising I need to choose this or decide that. Weighing up all the different options and understanding what is needed takes time. What really hinders the process is that you are constantly switching between work mode and decision mode, a hugely time consuming and cognitively draining exercise.
This is why it is so important to set aside time to plan out what you need to do today, this week and this month. If you lay out what needs to be done, you can step straight into work mode without worrying about deciding what needs to be done next. It has already been sorted. This frees up your mind to stay focused on the task at hand.
Focus on a single task at a time
In this day and age of information overload, we are bombarded with endless stimulation. This means that we always feel like there is so much to get done, no matter how productive we are. The constant bombardment often convinces us that writing a report, whilst monitoring our email and having a conversation with our co-worker is a great use of time. I am multitasking, getting more done in less time, right? Well, no. The research is pretty clear on this, multi tasking is a hugely inefficient use of time and saps your brain of energy. Focusing on a single task at a time is a much more productive use of your time. So, whenever you feel like you need to get a hundred things done at once, take a breath, write a list and take them one by one.
Use blocks of time for your tasks
Another great way to plan out your work time is to use blocks of time to focus on your single tasks. There is a productivity technique known as the Pomodoro technique, which suggests breaking your work day into blocks of 25 minutes, with short breaks in between. I am a big fan of this method and use it every day. In fact, I am using it right now as I write this blog. This gives your brain a clear focus for 25 minutes; it really is incredible what you can get done when you place all your attention on one task for such a confined amount of time, with no distractions. Try it. It will allow you to get more done in less time, giving you more time for yourself.
If you can, automate it!
The glories of the internet offer so much for the modern business owner. Connections across the globe, access to international markets and setup costs of near zero. It doesn’t fall short in terms of helping you save time either, the amount of automation tools are growing by the day. You can automate all those niggly little things that eat into your time using services such as Zapier or IFFTT. Automatically save your attachments in Gmail to Google Drive or share your new YouTube video with your LinkedIn audience…the list goes on and on and on. So, if you have areas that can be automated through software take the time to get it done because, in the long run, it will generate more time for you than you thought possible.
Make sure you take a mental break
What? Taking a break to make more use of my time? This sounds incredibly counterintuitive. However, by taking the time to break off from your work you can help increase your productivity. This is an integral part of the Pomodoro method discussed above. The reason it works so well is because of the short mental breaks you take. Your brain only has a finite attention capacity and constantly needs refreshing. Research clearly demonstrates that by taking a break your brain can relax, recharge and declutter. The process of simply taking short breaks in your work gives you greater resources when you are focusing on your work. This ultimately allows you to get more done in less time.
Prioritise your work
This final tip is something I have noticed people really struggle with. This could be due to a number of things such as having a fear of letting go or simply not knowing what your priorities are. Take the time to analyse where your time is most valuable. What are you best at? Where do your skills lie? What is the most valuable use of your time? Everything else should either be left until a quieter time or, even better, delegated. Take the time once a week to prioritise your tasks in order to maximise the use of your time. This discipline will allow you to make sure you are getting done what you need to rather than wasting time on things that can be done by others.
Speaking from personal experience creating more time for yourself is an endless battle. Mastering the art of how to create more time is not easy. However, if you can adopt one or two of these tips you will see major benefits in where your time goes and ultimately in the work you will produce.