Ever feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? Here’s how to claw back nearly 3 hours a day, every day.
We know the feeling. Here at Fresh Clarity, we regularly encourage our clients to work on their business, rather than in it. Essentially, that means doing more of the big picture stuff, and the things that inspired you to start up in the first place – instead of becoming an employee in your own business and spending all your time on admin and details.
But working on your business takes time, and that’s where most people stumble. They know they need to take more of an objective view and work on more strategic aspects, but they’re so caught up in the everyday management and maintenance that there’s no time for anything else.
What if we told you that there actually is time? That you can carve out several extra hours every day, without putting in a longer day or compromising on the things you actually enjoy doing?
In this blog, we’ll show you how to create up to 2 hours and 40 minutes of free time in your day, every day, with a few simple changes. Read on to find out how.
#1. GET ORGANISED
You can’t evaluate what time you have available if you can’t see it clearly in front of you. We all work differently, but everyone needs a time management system. Perhaps you prefer a traditional weekly planner, or maybe you use an online calendar like iCal or Google Calendar.
Both are great for planning your day down to the minute – plus you can colour-code your diary by client or project type. Most people tend to use online calendars just for meetings, but you can use them to plan every aspect of your day, including your lunch break.
That doesn’t necessarily mean your diary should always be full – you could simply block out time to think and review things. And while we’re on the subject of getting organised, did you know that the average person spends at least five minutes a day just looking for things?
Tracking down a file, an email, a quote, a statement or a letter when your files are chaotic is the ultimate recipe for wasted time. Create sub-folders in your inbox for each item (i.e. staff, admin, financials etc) and do the same with your desktop.
Potential Time Saving | 10 Minutes
#2. PINPOINT WHERE TIME IS WASTED
Where does the time go? It’s so easy to get to the end of the day, having gone at 100 miles an hour from 8am to 5pm, without having any idea what you’ve actually done.
It’s most likely because you’re firefighting or troubleshooting much of the time, or your day’s been filled with ‘quick chats’ that have lasted over an hour, and meetings that have overrun.
Until you can see how much time you spend on the everyday things – and set much clearer boundaries with that time – you’ll never know where you can free it up. For one week, track all your activities for in a calendar, or try a free time management tool like Toggl, which lets you see where all your time is going.
Yes, it’ll take time to input the data, but it’ll give you a much clearer picture of where the day goes and a sound basis for carving out more time for the things you want to focus on.
Potential Time Saving | 15 Minutes
#3. SET BOUNDARIES AND DEADLINES
Setting boundaries doesn’t come easily to all of us. In fact, if your management style is very involved, or you’re the ‘go to’ for everyone who comes into contact with your business, you’re probably spending most of your day dealing with other people’s queries.
It’s important to be approachable and available for your team, your suppliers and anyone else who makes your business tick, but you also need to set clear boundaries on your time. If you think a meeting might run over, make sure everyone knows that you need to be done by a certain time.
If someone approaches you with an ad hoc query and you get into a long conversation, ask if you can schedule some time for a chat when you’re free, or discuss it in a weekly team meeting.
Let people know if you’d like an hour where you’re not interrupted. Setting boundaries and deadlines may feel harsh, but it’s essential to reclaiming your valuable time.
Potential Time Saving | 30 Minutes
#4. LIMIT YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA USE
Collectively, we waste an inordinate amount of time on social media. There’s no question that social media can be a great source of news or lead to important new connections and opportunities, but it’s probably not something you need to be doing every single day.
Here in the UK, the average social media user spends between 50 minutes and two hours of their day browsing Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or LinkedIn. If most of that browsing happens during working hours, you may be wasting up to a quarter of your working day, every day.
Try to curb your social media use at work, if you can. Just because someone’s sent a message or you get a notification – even if it’s business related – it doesn’t mean you have to deal with it there and then; block out a 15-minute slot each day to catch up on social media messages and notes, then forget it for the rest of the day.
Potential Time Saving | 35 Minutes
#5. WAKE UP EARLIER
This might sound like an obvious – and undesirable solution (particularly in the dark and chilly winter months) – but starting your day just that little bit sooner can make a huge difference. For the next week, try setting your alarm just 15 minutes earlier.
Don’t hit snooze; get up when the alarm goes off, and use the time to do one of the tasks you’d normally do a bit later. Make a packed lunch, do some yoga or pilates, clean out your inbox while you’re having coffee (delete all those spam emails and unsubscribe from anything you’re not regularly reading) or simply use the time to plan out your day.
Potential Time Saving | 15 Minutes
#6. DELEGATE WHEREVER YOU CAN
Typically, the most time-starved business owners have one thing in common; they’re not delegating enough. Rather than concentrating on the parts of their business that really inspire and motivate them, they’re tied up all day answering basic questions, emailing price lists, juggling accounts or financial forecasts, managing marketing activities and solving staff issues.
If you’re regularly doing something that isn’t in your skillset – like financial management, business planning or marketing – it’s time to bring in experts. The more time you spend on tasks like these, the more time you’ll be losing on things you don’t enjoy doing. Plus, without sound knowledge of these things, you could be building your business on shaky foundations that cause problems later on.
Also think about all the admin tasks you’re performing every day. Who in your team can you delegate these to? Can you assign team members to be the ‘go to’ for queries about particular topics, like health and safety, pricing, procurement tasks or customer service enquiries?
Potential Time Saving | 40 Minutes
#7. COMMIT TO IT
None of this will happen unless you commit to it. Don’t be tempted back onto social media, or to deal with minor admin tasks, or to allow meetings to keep overrunning, or your team to access your time and energy for every minute you’re there. Stick to your guns, and it will become a precedent – one that will make your life much easier (and your business much stronger) in the long run.
We hope you’ve found this blog useful, but there’s one more thing we’d like to add. We’ve shown you here how to make more time to work on your business, but sometimes, you need time just for you. No work, no kids, no family, no obligations – just you and some uninterrupted free time.
Having time out is essential for your wellbeing, which in turn is essential for your business – so if you want to carve out the time to take half a day off, do it. And don’t feel guilty about it. It’s your business, your life, and your decision.
The Fresh Clarity Team