Between working, spending time with family, household chores, a social life, and pursuing other hobbies, I’ve got a lot going on, and I know you do too! It’s amazing, and it’s also tricky to manage at times. I’m a total sucker for researching YouTube videos and blogs with tips from successful entrepreneurs sharing the ways that they manage it all. With that said, there are two tips that always pop up that make me tune out right away — waking up earlier, and meal prepping.
I know that both definitely have their obvious advantages to gaining more time in your day (and even for your health), BUT when I honestly dread both, they’re two habits I just can’t bring myself to commit to. Here are my five favorite easy ways I use to make better use of my time, without setting my alarm earlier or spending my precious Sundays prepping food!
1. Follow the “2 Minute Rule”
“If you can do something (like replying to an email or a household chore) in two minutes, do it now. Planning for it later, remembering it, doing it in the future will take 5 minutes or more.” - Marius Ursache via Quora.
This sounds small, but when you do this multiple times a day, that saved time soon adds up!
2. Don’t be available all the time
Unless your job requires you to be on call 24/7, your phone is a distraction. It’s the age we live in, especially when you’re running a business. If this sounds at all familiar, you’ll know how much time you lose looking at your phone when you don’t always need to. Put your phone on silent or, if you’re like me and look at it often out of habit, put it on airplane mode so you don’t see your notifications.
Return calls/texts/emails in batches and watch your free time reappear before your eyes. I live in a different country from my family (and on a different time zone), so their sweet messages come flooding in while I’m still in the middle of my day. Knowing I have a set time to reply to everything lets me find a balance of staying in touch and staying on top of everything else throughout the day.
3. Automate the things you don’t love
I feel like this is a little underrated. There is a long list of every day tasks we can automate now to make our lives easier — paying bills, house cleaning, getting gas, unsubscribing from pesky junk emails, the list goes on. Making the investment and taking the time to set it up just once will be worth it time and time again when you skip the time consuming tasks you don’t enjoy. My favorites are:
- Grocery shopping. I don’t mind grocery shopping, in fact it can be pretty therapeutic! Especially when I just bring my headphones and listen to music while I shop. But at home, our schedules are unpredictable which makes it difficult to shop for the week ahead. Now I use an app that makes it SO easy to place an order with only a few hours notice. I use it several times a week and spend the time I would have spent physically at the store doing something else productive. On another note, the ‘shoppers’ are all working on a self-employed basis, so using this service supports their side hustle too!
- Scheduling social media. If you don’t have a strategy for how you handle your social media, it’s very easy to log on with good intentions, and then get lost down a rabbit hole and lose hours of your time as a result… Or even shy away from it altogether! Now I form a plan, produce content in batches and schedule it ahead of time, and it’s like a weight off my shoulders. If the thought of this still doesn’t sound appealing to you, delegate it to a social media assistant! Saving so many hours a week will also be a life saver for when something unexpected comes up in your business.
4. Make a to-do list
If you don’t think you’re a “to-do list” person, stay with me! If there’s any way to hold yourself accountable for doing things you know you need to get done, this is it. Making a list not only helps me get a little perspective on what actually needs done and what can wait, but once it’s written down I have too much pride to allow myself to procrastinate. Even my husband, one of the most laid back people on earth, makes to-do lists and absolutely crushes when it comes to his productivity.
As one of my favorite entrepreneurial ladies, Marie Forleo, says, “If you plan on having a successful life, start by planning your day.” She walks us through a fool proof way of doing this no matter what your schedule in a short but sweet episode of MarieTV. If you’re still not convinced, commit for one week and watch the magic happen.
5. Skip the task management tools
Another tip I often read in lists like this are recommending new trendy task management tools that promise to organize your life and increase productivity. If you’re using one you love and that works well for your team then by all means, keep at it!
Personally, the irony is I’ve wasted a lot of time trying to master several of these tools, telling myself I just need to find the one that’s right for me. If this sounds familiar, don’t force it and don’t feel bad. I know several business owners that communicate successfully with clients and team members using nothing but email, texts and calls. Use the Notes App on your phone, use sticky notes and a pen, whatever works for you — just write it out and get it done.