As an entrepreneur, “free time” probably isn’t in your vocabulary. You are a busy, busy bee, with a tight schedule and a million things to do at any given moment. If we’re honest, most of us like the busy schedule and always having something to do, being the go-getters that we are. But it can become overwhelming, especially when we want to focus on business building tasks and not waste time on less fulfilling things. Luckily we can utilize little tips and tricks to help save time throughout the week.
Invest in a Planner you Love
You’ve probably heard it a thousand times: a good planner will change your life. Maybe you have already hopped on the bandwagon and invested in a nice planner, but if you haven’t, it’s time to give it a try. Many times, we think we don’t have any extra time to spare, when in reality, we just haven’t learned how to properly schedule our time. By using a planner, you can write down exactly what you have going on for the day and at what times they will occur, and then you can visually see when you will have breaks. Planning this out ahead of time will save you time and energy stressing over when you’ll be able to take a breather.
You can buy planners at most big grocery stores and some retailers, such as T.J. Maxx or Target. Make sure it’s one that you are excited to use. There are some pretty affordable ones out there, but if you really want to take your planner game to the next level, invest in one that may have more features. A great one that can fit in the budget is an Erin Condren planner.
Pick Double Duty Meals
If you’re one to cook dinners from scratch, consider finding double duty options and planning your weekly menu so you don’t have to cook a whole meal every single night. This means cooking extra meat on the first night and repurposing the extra to another specific meal the next night, and/or cooking extra quinoa to accompany your chicken the first night and using it for a grain bowl the next day. If you’re chopping veggies for one meal the first night, chop extra and have another recipe lined up using the same kind of veggie the next night so you don’t have to chop again. It’s simpler and less time consuming than a full day of meal prep, and allows for more variety, but planning your menu to include meals that use some of the same ingredients can cut out tons of time on at least half the nights you’re cooking.
Set up an Auto-Reply System
As a business owner, you likely get dozens of emails per day. Although some of these may require some more attention and communication, others can be answered in a simple automated email. For example, let’s say a customer is wondering about your return policy. In your automated email, you could have basic information regarding your policy in there. Along with this, include your hours, basic FAQs, and that you will get back to them within 24-48 hours if needed.
Set Strict Boundaries
This can be a hard one. Setting boundaries between your work and personal life is challenging, but extremely important. As a business owner, it can be easy to find yourself working late into the night, answering emails after business hours and burning yourself out. Make it a goal to prioritize your personal life just as much as your work life by setting boundaries on when you will be available to work. If your cut-off time is 6 p.m., stick to that! As soon as 6 p.m. hits, turn off your computer, gather your things and leave the office. This will help save you time to do what you enjoy, such as going to the gym, cooking a nice dinner or even going to bed early.
Stack Your Meetings (and Errands)
There’s nothing worse than having to constantly switch between meeting mode and creation mode during the day, and the time you waste as you shift back and forth between the two headspaces. But even worse than that is the five minutes here and ten minutes there that can creep onto the end of meetings if you’re not careful. Stacking meetings is a great way to not only stay in meeting mode until they’re all finished, but it also gives you a fail-proof excuse to get off each call right on time because you can’t be late for the next one. The 5-10 minutes of extra chit chat or goodbyes, or even decompressing between meetings, add up and can eat up almost an hour of your day before you know it. Scheduling three meetings back to back in the morning can take three hours of your time and you still have all afternoon for getting other things done, whereas three meetings spread throughout the day can effectively take up the entire thing.
Plan What You Are Going to Wear the Night Before
Picking an outfit out can take up the majority of our time in the morning. As many clothes as we may have, we feel like we have nothing to wear! We may even tend to get frustrated when deciding what to wear because we know we are being rushed. Avoid this frustration by picking out your outfit right before you go to bed. You will be more patient and not feel like you are on a time-constraint.
Order Delivery or Subscriptions
Everything can be ordered in advance these days, and between ordering your groceries for delivery to cut out the weekly trip to the grocery store, ordering your office supplies online for curbside pickup so you don’t even have to get out of the car, or having your cleaning supplies and even snacks on subscription, it’s possible to avoid all those little trips to stock the office or your home. Even better, you never risk running out because you’ll always be reminded when the subscription is up or it will just renew automatically.
The 3 Minute Rule
If something is going to take less than three minutes just do it right away. It may sound counterintuitive to say to do a bunch of three minute tasks when we’re talking about ways to save time, but in reality adding tiny tasks to your to do list and having to revisit them later actually ends up costing you time throughout the week. If something comes up that will be super quick to complete, rather than writing it down on your task list to schedule in to your day or week, or taking five minutes communicating it to a team member, just do it. You’ll find that your day goes smoother and you don’t have a bunch of small tasks hanging over your head that you feel like you have to finish up before you can wrap up your work day.