Guest post by Leanne Chesser.
I want to share some time saving tips with you because time management challenges are so common.
Everywhere I turn, I hear online entrepreneurs say that they’re overwhelmed with all there is to do. They’re distracted by interruptions and the bazillion courses, webinars and free offers that try to get their attention. As a result, they feel like they’re pulled in 47 directions at once.
Not to mention all the rest of life.
Any of this sound familiar?
Here are 10 time saving tips that will help you reduce that overwhelm, get focused and get more done in your business.
1. Deal with the underlying reasons for your time challenges.
This is a really important concept that I haven’t seen anyone else teach about.
If you’ve tried lots of different things to deal with time challenges, but haven’t had any success, or your success hasn’t lasted for very long, you might be missing what’s really going on underneath.
It’s like anything else in life. Like losing weight, for example. You can try all the diets you want or eat well and exercise, but if you have a sabotaging belief or if you eat for emotional reasons, you won’t have success, or your success won’t last.
Same with time management.
Here are a few of the possible underlying reasons:
a) Not using time saving tips, strategies and systems that fit with your personality.
We’re all unique and we all have different personalities.
Some people are more structured and orderly, so the time management systems that you’re familiar with fit with them.
But other people are more spontaneous and random. They love freedom and color and stuff out everywhere in their environment. They go a bit crazy with the typical “anal” time saving tips.
Maybe, instead of a standard to-do list, you might put your tasks for the day on colored note paper and stick them in a basket or some other kind of container on your desk. Pull them out randomly one at a time and do whichever one you pull out. Keep going until they’re done. This is a more unstructured way to get things done.
b) You don’t have a vision for your business.
A vision a mental picture of everything that you want to be, do and have in your business. It’s what your ideal business looks, sounds, feels, smells and tastes like. And it’s a written description of that mental picture.
When you don’t know your business vision, you can wander aimlessly. You never really get anywhere because you don’t have a clear direction for where you’re headed. Many things can grab your attention and take you down a different path.
You know that feeling of being pulled in 64 directions at once??
But if you have a vision, you won’t wander aimlessly. You’ll know where you’re going and you’ll be able to focus more easily on getting there. It’s easier to stay on track and say no to things that don’t fit with your vision. And you’re more passionate about what you’re doing because it’s moving you toward your dream.
Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” That “end” is your vision. And it’s important to begin with that end in mind because it sets the destination and the direction for your business.
c) Not having goals that get you to your vision.
When you set your goals or your daily tasks, it’s important to set them with your vision in mind. Otherwise, you could end up doing random stuff that doesn’t actually get you where you want to go.
It’s also useful to use the SMARTER goal system (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, with a time frame, with emotion and with some risk).
2. Eat well.
Someone once said, “Manage your energy, not your time.”
Eating well is about managing your physical energy through nourishing your body.
It might seem strange that I have “eat well” as a time saving tip. But it has been said that eating a diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish can increase your productivity by 20%.
Here are some tips for eating better:
- Drink green smoothies.
- Eat breakfast (try a smoothie).
- Eat smaller meals throughout the day.
- Pay attention to your body rhythms. When do you naturally have more energy? When do you feel yourself getting sluggish? When does it work for you to have your bigger meal (the one we typically have at supper time)? Change your eating and meals to suit you.
- Drink a crap load of water.
- Cut down on the sugary, stimulant type stuff like sodas, juices, coffee, sweets and junk.
- Don’t deprive yourself ’cause that pretty much always results in binges. But cut down on the crap.
- Eat fresh, whole foods. Lots of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy proteins. For you, that might be meat. For me, it’s mostly beans and lentils.
- Make a meal plan. Do your grocery shopping based on what you need for your plan and don’t buy extra.
- Cook in advance and freeze stuff to save time during the week and to lessen the “oh, I’ll just eat crap or takeout” that often happens when you’re busy.
This is another way to manage your energy.
Kris Carr said, “A regular exercise plan is not optional. It . . . gives us the energy we need to kick ass.”
That energy keeps you going, enlivens you, boosts your mood and helps you take action on what you want and need to do in your day.
Do something that you enjoy and find fun. Do you like to dance? Do you love going to the gym? Yoga? Weights? Running outside? Whatever it is, do it. Get that oxygen pumping. Get your body moving.
4. Turn off all the stuff that beeps, rings and dings.
a) Get out of your email.
First, reduce the number of emails you’re receiving.
Unsubscribe from all but the most essential newsletters.
Stop receiving notifications from Facebook or other social media sites. They can make you go crazy.
Set things up so that spam goes straight to your spam folder.
Then, set certain times throughout the day to check your email after you’ve done important business tasks. Stick to this schedule and close your email program except at these times. This might be a challenge at first as you break your habit of constantly checking your email, but once it becomes a habit, it’ll be a lot easier.
This could be one of the most helpful time saving tips of them all!
b) Turn the ringer off on your phone.
How much time are you spending on the phone and how many times a day is it distracting you? I’m not talking about sales conversations or coaching sessions or meetings with clients. Those are different. I’m talking about other types of phone calls or calls that come in for you during the day that aren’t directly related to your bottom line.
Don’t answer those calls.
Let your voice mail deal with them until an appropriate time for you to return calls.
5. Plan and automate your social media activities.
What are you doing on social media?
Are you getting sucked down rabbit trails or are you intentional and purposeful about what you’re on social media to do . . . and then you get off of it?
Are you playing around, or are you engaged in activities that move your business forward, like networking, interacting and posting things of value?
What always surprises people is that social media should only take an hour a day for everything! To achieve this, it’s important to create a plan and go on social media to do that. And that’s it.
Also, automate things. Now, don’t get mad at me :). I don’t mean to automate all of your social media posts!
The whole point of social media is to interact, build relationships and offer value.
But social media can be a huge and overwhelming time-suck, so automating some of your activity can really help as part of your overall social media plan.
There are a few ways you can automate your social media posts:
- Use a platform like Hootsuite to schedule all your posts to multiple social media sites.
- Use plugins that allow you to auto-post your blog posts.
- Use your own social sharing buttons on your blog to post to various social media sites as soon as you publish a blog post.
- Delegate the task to your assistant!
6. Eliminate overwhelm.
How much time do you spend soaking up information – – learning, taking courses, reading blogs and newsletters, and generally searching stuff online?
I have two things to say about that.
One . . . delete or unsubscribe from the stuff that isn’t essential to your goals.
Two . . . you may have FOMO (as a mentor of mine says).
FOMO is fear of missing out. FOMO results in you subscribing to every blessed thing and accessing or purchasing a bazillion different courses that you never really go through, complete or implement and that just end up overwhelming you. The solution for this is to only subscribe to, watch, listen to, or purchase the things that are really going to help you move forward in your business. Leave everything else alone so you can manage your mental energy.
7. Reduce distractions.
How often are you pulled off task in a day?
Are you sidetracked by all kinds of things that seem important and urgent?
You might need to check your vision for your business. Make sure your goals fit with that and make sure the things you do each day move you toward your goals. Say no to everything else.
Are you getting distracted because other people have made requests of you? Set business hours. Respect your time. Say no. Have an actual office space where you can work. I know office hours sound boring and confining but, believe me, this works. When you’re in your office space during office hours, everyone knows it’s work time. And when you’re there, you devote your time and energy to business only. Make sure to schedule or plan time with your family as well. When you’re with them, devote your time and energy to them only. Then it’s easier for them to leave you alone at work time. This works even if you don’t have kids or other people in your home. It puts you in the mindset of work and it builds in respect for your business time, which is often lacking when you work at home. And . . . when you respect your time, others will respect your time.
Are you having trouble focusing? Work for 15 minutes at a time. You’ll be surprised at what you can get done! Plan for 8 of these 15-minute power sessions each day. Focus completely on your task and don’t stop to do anything else. That’s 2 solid hours of intense work . . . probably more than you get done now! Set a timer and work solidly until it goes off.
8. Have a spiritual practice.
This is about managing your spiritual energy through nourishing your spirit. Your spiritual energy has to do with spiritual practices and can be about anything from meditation to church attendance to whether or not you’re living your purpose or your “why.”
When you spend time with your higher source or self or however you define it, and when you take care of your spiritual foundation, everything else just works better.
I know. You have too much to do to rest. You’re saying, “Why are you including this in your time saving tips? That’s crazy.”
I’ve felt that way before, too.
You feel overwhelmed with everything. You have way too much on your to-do list. You’re being pulled in 47 directions at once. You can’t rest.
But it works.
And it’s important to take the time to rest.
When you take time out to rest and recharge, you’re more able to get all that stuff done.
It gives your mind a break because it gets your head out of it all. And when you take a step away from it, you can get clarity.
It gives your body a break because it reduces stress on your system. This keeps you healthy so you can keep up with all you have to do.
It lets you recharge. It brings energy, revitalization and motivation to keep going.
So, what can you do to rest?
- Take a nap.
- Take an entire day off (and if you’re screaming, “Aghhhhh,” then try this).
- Read a book.
- Have a hot bubble bath and light some candles.
- Go outside and spend time in nature.
- Go for a drive.
- Exercise if that helps you relax.
- Work on a hobby.
Whatever it is that you love to do that lets you relax and rest . . . do that.
10. Plan your blogging.
a) Use a monthly blogging calendar.
A blogging calendar, or editorial calendar, gives you a plan to follow so that you aren’t stuck trying to think of a post idea at the last minute . . . which usually takes a long time and adds a bunch of frustration!
By having a plan in place, you can write your posts ahead of time and schedule them to be published on set days.
Here are steps you can use to create a monthly calendar for your blog:
- Choose a theme. You can choose a theme for the entire month, or a theme for each week.
- Use regular types of posts. This really helps to make your blogging easier because you can come up with ideas more quickly. For example, “Tip Tuesday” or “Feature Friday.” The point of it is that it saves time.
- Slot the regular post types into your calendar. This is where it gets cool because you can see at a glance how many other posts you have to write. If you’re using regular features on Mondays and Fridays, for example, and you only want to post four times a week, it fills up pretty quickly!
- Brainstorm post ideas.
- Do your keyword research and write your titles: It’s so important to choose a good keyword for each post and include that keyword in your title. Doing this
- first helps you to focus your post.
- Slot these titles into your calendar. Now you have a plan!
- Choose a writing day if you want to pre-write and schedule your posts each week. Schedule this on your calendar as well.
You can also include other info like where you’re going to promote each post, what tags you’re going to use . . . or anything you find relevant that helps you save time when it comes to writing the post.
b) Use tools for coming up with blog post ideas.
It can take a lot of time to come up with blog post ideas, especially daily blogging ideas. But there are some tools and strategies you can use to help save time in this area.
One tool is brainstorming by using a mind map. Take one blog post that you wrote in the past. Use that as the center topic in your mind map. Think of all the posts you could write based on that topic. You might be surprised what you can come up with.
Another tool is Daily Blogging Ideas by Michelle Shaeffer. Michelle has written lots of ideas to get you thinking.
c) Use a system for writing posts.
Here’s what I do:
- Choose my topic (preferably from my editorial calendar).
- Research my keywords.
- Write my title (include my keyword).
- Write my rough copy in my WP editor or write first in a text editor like Notepad and then copy and paste into WP.
- Use my keyword in the first sentence, the last sentence and a few times throughout the post, naturally.
- Fill in my metadata and use my keyword in the title tag, description and keyword fields.
- Add my keyword as my tag.
- Choose a category.
- Find an image, rename it with my keyword and save it to my computer (also save the photo credit information).
- Upload my image to my media library and add the keyword to the alt tag area and the description.
- Add my image to my post.
- Edit my post.
- Check how my post appears and then do a final edit.
- Publish or schedule my post.
So, there are the top 10 time saving tips for online entrepreneurs.
Which tip do you think would be most helpful for you right now? How will you implement it in your business? What time saving tips have you tried in the past?