If you run your own business or work for yourself in another way, you may regularly find that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete all of the jobs on your to-do list. You might spend time stressing and complaining that you don’t have enough time to do things well or to relax and take some time out.
Feeling like this for long periods of time can lead to depression and other mental health problems. You may find you can’t sleep, or that you’re trapped in a low mood. Or, you could also notice that a lack of time means you’re not giving your business the attention it deserves, or that you are neglecting your friends and family. Eventually, this can lead to physical problems too. A lack of sleep and constant stress could see your immune system struggling to fight off coughs, colds, and other bugs. Put simply, over time having too much to do could lead to you becoming unwell and failing to enjoy your work, and your life.
One of the reasons that many people start-up on their own is that they want more time and more flexibility. When you are getting stressed out and complaining that there aren’t enough hours in your day, remember why you started your business and what you hoped to get out of it. While you may not be able to add that elusive 25th hour, you can do things faster, freeing up more time for yourself.
It can seem like you need to be online every hour of the day to grow your business. You need to be chatting on social media, and reposting content to get noticed and grow your following. You need to reply to emails and comments asap to keep customers and clients happy. You should be sending out email newsletters as often as you can to keep people interested, and every document must be printed and signed before being sent wherever it needs to go.
Well, you don’t actually need to be online 24 hours a day. You just need to make it look like you are. You can sign up for e-signatures so that you don’t ever have to physically sign anything again. You can schedule your social media updates and website posts, and you can automate an email newsletter from your RSS feed.
There are a huge amount of ways to save time with online systems, so make a list of everything you use the internet for before researching ways to do things faster and more efficiently.
Start Your Day Right
When you work for yourself, it can be hard to get going in the morning if you don’t have a meeting or appointment to get to. You can find yourself feeling a little lost and wasting time not really doing anything.
Starting your day with a positive morning routine can ensure that you get more done, and work effectively all day.
Start by leaving your phone in another room overnight, so you can’t spend 20 minutes lying in bed checking your notifications every morning. Don’t touch it until after breakfast to avoid giving it power over your mood.
Then, when you do get out of bed, do a few simple stretches to boost your circulation and help you wake up alert. If you’ve got time try and online workout or go for a run. Then have a quick shower and a good healthy breakfast. Before you leave the house or turn your computer on, spend some time writing a to-do list for the day. Include everything that you need to do, no matter how small, in order of importance.
One way to get more done is to stop occasionally. This might sound counterproductive, but it really works. Allow yourself a 10-minute break for a coffee every few hours, as well a decent lunch break. This will help to keep you alert and happy at work, but also make you less likely to procrastinate or waste time chatting or looking at social media throughout the day. If you employ staff, allow them the same breaks.
Starting your day with a well-planned and organized to do list is the easy part. Much harder, is staying organized as the day goes on. Things come up, people call or email, and new jobs need your attention. When this happens, you can quickly find that your to-do list has gone out of the window and you are well behind on your schedule.
Being aware of this is important. Keep your list somewhere you can see it and if something comes up, add it. Use the five-minute rule as a guideline. If a task comes up that will take less than five minutes, such as replying to an email or sending a file, do it there and then. If it takes longer than five minutes make room for it on your list. If it’s not urgent, add it to the end of the day or tomorrow. If it is, find space as soon as you’ve finished what you are currently working on and then get straight back to your list.
If someone pops in for a chat, use that as your ten-minute break and then work through break time.
Chatting is a huge problem. Most of us waste a lot of our day with unnecessary chatter. Think about your last meeting. How long was spent introducing everyone, saying hi, catching up and then saying goodbye at the end? It’s nice to see people and do things face to face, but when you are busy, it’s not always necessary.
Sending emails is faster, and it also means everyone in the correspondence has access to all of the same information when they need it in the future. It’s much more reliable than trusting everyone to make their own notes.
Most of us work better earlier in the day. It can be hard to get back to work after lunch, and the last few hours are often much less productive than the first. There’s no rule that you must work 9-5, start at eight if it means you get more done.