Time – it’s the one thing that no matter who you are, we all have the same.
Whether you’re Beyonce, the Queen, a high flying executive or a work at home mum we all have the same 24 hours in a day to use (or waste!) any way we want. There’s no way to ‘make’ any more and you can’t save any of it. It makes sense then to put our precious time to good use so we can enjoy our lives and not feel the pressure of ‘too much to do, too little time’.
I’m a bit of a productivity geek and I love trying new methods out. That said, no matter what I’ve tried there have always been a few principles and approaches that have worked better for me than anything else. Here are my top 5 ways to manage time effectively and get more done so you can enjoy every spare minute you have!
This has to be my number 1 productivity ninja trick! It’s so unbelievably simple yet incredibly effective!
The Pomodoro Technique was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. A ‘pomodoro’ is a 25 minute work block. All you need is a timer (use your phone or the Mac App store actually has a pomodoro timer!) and a list of tasks you need to complete.
You set your timer for 25 minutes and work solid until the timer goes off. Once the alarm sounds you then take a 5 minute break before heading into the next ‘pomodoro’. After 4 ‘pomodori’ (4 x 25 min work blocks) you take a longer break of 15-30 minutes. It’s crazy but the fact you’re on a timer somehow makes you super efficient and helps you to cut off from distractions.
If you’re a big procrastinator this technique can really help to focus you and cut down the time you spend on a project. Remember Parkinson’s Law –
If you only give yourself 25 minutes, you’re gonna get as much done as you can vs. giving yourself no deadline and spending most of your time avoiding it!
This is another method that has really helped me to stop work piling up and make sure my business moves forward. We all know there are things in our business that need to be done on a regular basis. But most of the time these are the tasks that we procrastinate on endlessly until they become so huge we feel totally overwhelmed.
First of all sit down and create a list of everything you need to do in your business to keep on top of things and keep your business ticking along. You’ll likely have things such as Social Media, Accounting, Marketing, Blogging, Customer Support, Statistics/Reports, Web Maintenance and Email Marketing to name a few. Then take that list and figure out what you need to do on a Daily basis, Weekly basis and Monthly basis.
Social Media (interactions)
Social Media (post scheduling)
Blogging & Email Marketing (regardless of how often you send/post you need to keep ahead with your content)
Accounting (it’s easier to remember everything from the past week rather than trying to remember a whole month!)
Statistics/Reports (eg mailing list growth, income growth, etc)
Web Maintenance ( make sure you are regularly checking for updates on your sites and plugins as keeping updated helps to keep your site secure and performing well)
I’ve talked more about how I use a regular schedule to keep myself productive here: http://www.virtuallyangels.com/want-to-get-more-done-go-back-to-school/
It’s amazing how much time you can save when you have a set process to follow. Just think about how much time you waste just mentally going over what you need to do and how – it’s at least double the time if not more.
For example, you can create a plan for your social media each week whereby at 8am on Mondays you could post a positive image/quote, at 2pm you share a link from your blog, at 6pm you post a question etc etc. Now instead of thinking “What times shall I post?” all you need to tackle is “What should I post?“. You can even take this a step further and have a spreadsheet with ideas/previous updates on that you could use!
You can read more here about social media schedules: http://www.virtuallyangels.com/social-media/
Another example would be systemising your accounting. This will vary from business to business but you can have a folder in your inbox called Receipts where you move all email receipts to throughout the week.
Every week start by reconciling your PayPal account, then reconcile your bank account and finally go through the Receipts folder to check that all the email receipts have been covered from the PayPal or bank statement. After this you then check your diary for the previous week to see if there is any mileage that needs to be added to your expenses.
Super simple but I know if you don’t have the process in place you’d likely just sit there totally paralysed by overwhelm, not knowing where to start first.
I also highly recommend using Freshbooks for your accounting as it makes everything so much easier! (Just a heads up – that is an affiliate link but I use Freshbooks every day in my business and would never recommend something I don’t personally think is awesome!)
Constantly switching from task to task has been shown to significantly slow down your productivity. It takes four times longer to recognise new things making you much less efficient.
Have you ever noticed how once you get stuck into a task you soon get into a flow and seem to get an insane amount of work done in little time? That’s why batching is so great for productivity. If you’re creating images for your Facebook page why not do the whole week or month whilst you’re in the creative zone? Same as writing blogs – rather than doing one at a time why not write a whole bunch all at once whilst your in the same mental space? You’ll get more done in half the time!
Now all the strategies above are great and very effective but nothing beats outsourcing when it comes to managing your time and giving yourself more free time. Once you’ve sorted systems for repetitive tasks in your business (see above!) the perfect thing to do then is outsource it to a Virtual Assistant to manage for you.
Simply send them your instructions for completing the task and agree the timescales for them to report and feedback to you. It doesn’t have to be complicated delegating – you can read more here about using technology to your advantage when delegating: http://www.virtuallyangels.com/delegating-to-your-virtual-assistant/.
If you want to discuss outsourcing some tasks for your business but you aren’t sure where to start, take advantage of a free 30 minute consultation with Virtually Angels – click here to book a slot: http://www.virtuallyangels.com/book-a-consultation/