Challenge: Get More Done in Less Time
October 25, 2012
This is a guest post by Natasha Vorompiova of SystemsRock.
It’s so liberating to live in the technological age—where you can run a thriving business without being bound to one place, provide clients with instant access to your programs and services, and even stay in close touch with family members living all over the place.
But. . .
It’s also nerve-racking to always have to be on top of things and quick to respond. If you’re like my clients, you feel like you’ve got no downtime—not a moment to spare—yet you desperately need some more time to grow your business. Getting more done in less time is the new holy grail of entrepreneurs worldwide. I’m here to teach you a few transformative strategies I use with my clients to help them achieve this desired goal.
You just have to get time on your side and use it to your advantage the same technology that got you into this situation in the first place.
SIMPLE STRATEGIES FOR GETTING TIME ON YOUR SIDE
You don’t have to treat time as your enemy.
The limitations of time are no longer going to prevent you from meeting deadlines and ensuring you’ve got enough of it to grow your business. Time can be your friend. All you have to do is take a few easy steps to get absolutely clear about your current relationship with it.
STEP #1: RECORD ALL TASKS FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME
For the next 5 days, record all of the tasks you do to run your business and note how long they take to complete. Just keep a sheet of paper next to your desk or a running list on your computer.
STEP #2: SORT THE TASKS INTO BROADER CATEGORIES
These are the categories I have my clients use:
- Must be done by me and take a lot of time
- Must be done by me and take little time
- Don’t have to be done by me and take a lot of time
- Don’t have to be done by me and take little time
Here’s a sample of what your categories might look like when you first do the exercise:
STEP #3: RECLAIM YOUR TIME
My four-step system for opening up more time in your schedule involves learning how to structure and doubletask, integrate, automate, and delegate.
Here’s how these elements are eventually going to fit into your diagram:
A. STRUCTURE the time-consuming processes that must be completed by you.
Structuring is about more than just organization. It’s about creating a comprehensive strategy for your chain of events.
Being clear on the steps you need to take in order to accomplish a repetitive task will take away any guesswork, allowing you to become very efficient. For example, a structure for working on content creation for your blog might involve creating a list of blog topics, writing a blog post every Monday, and posting and sharing it on Wednesdays. A structure for working on client projects can involve creating a calendar of project milestones and sharing it with the client, asking the client to set aside time for the dates when their feedback is needed, notifying all other parties involved in the project (e.g., your virtual assistant, supplier, video editor, etc.), and blocking your calendar to ensure you meet deadlines.
B. INTEGRATE by allowing the applications you’re using to “talk to each other.”
Technology allows us to have just about any gadget or software to help us be more productive. However, too many gadgets can have just the opposite effect on our productivity. Integrating or “linking” different applications saves a massive amount of time as it creates a “living system” where updating one of the parts automatically updates the others. Therefore, when picking applications, always check and give preference to the ones that can easily integrate with applications you already have in place or intend to start using.
If you’re a fan of FreshBooks or considering it, here are some amazing features that will help you integrate. FreshBooks can be integrated with a client relationship management (CRM) software like Highrise or CapsuleCRM. Once you integrate them, your invoice processing will take next to no time. Also, FreshBooks can be integrated with payment through PayPal, so you never have to send separate payment requests to your clients. When clients receive your FreshBooks invoice, they will be able to pay immediately.
C. AUTOMATE processes to save time on tasks that don’t need to be done by you or take a long time to complete.
Automation is the process of using technology to put things on autopilot.
Scheduling meetings can easily be automated by using an online scheduler like Schedulicity, Acuity Scheduling or TimeTrade. Requesting testimonials can be automated by creating a Google form with questions you want clients to answer, embedding it in a template of an “I’d love to hear your feedback” e-mail, and sending it every time you need to request a testimonial.
D. DELEGATE tasks outside of your expertise that don’t need to be done by you.
Keep your options open. . .even if you think that your business is not at the stage where you can allow yourself to delegate. You can delegate even on a tight budget. Remember that delegation has many, and not always obvious, benefits. Once you start delegating and freeing more of your time, you will have time and energy for big, inspiring and strategic stuff. Delegation will make you more responsible and mindful as you will now be investing money in support (and hence wanting to get an excellent ROI) and have people who depend on you. It will also make you more organized and focused, because before putting a process in place you will think twice about the optimal way to make it happen and the easiest way to explain it to your team.
E. DOUBLETASK instead of multitasking.
“So much to do, so little time!” We all can relate to that, can’t we?
Doubletasking lets you do two tasks at once, slashing in half the time it would take you to perform them individually. Multitasking involves doing two mental activities at once (e.g., watching TV while editing an e-book or talking to your husband while reading a client’s e-mail). Studies have shown that multitasking lowers IQ and reduces productivity. Doubletasking, on the other hand, is highly efficient, because you engage in two different types of activities—a mental and physical one (e.g., listening to a podcast while working out or watching a presentation while ironing).
You’re going to become addicted to doubletasking.
STEP #4: YOUR NEW TIME CHART
Once you’ve applied these recommendations, your grid might look like this one.
You can tell even from just a quick glance that your workload will be reduced by two-thirds, which can easily translate into 4-6 extra hours a week.
How could you spend an extra 4-6 hours a week?
Let’s play a game. Create a diagram of your own sample grid and apply one of the recommendations. Leave in the comments below how much time you are saving as a result. Even if you are not a numbers person, I bet, you are going to love THESE numbers.
about the author
This is a guest post for the FreshBooks blog. FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.