How to immediately free up (some of) your time

When you’re running a business, your time is your most limited resource. Usually, this is even more limited than money because at least you can borrow money from a bank.

If you try to borrow time, you’re just stealing it from the other parts of your life, like time with your kids. You wouldn’t steal money from your kid’s piggy bank, so why would you take time together from them?

Here are some ideas for things you can do to free up your time. These are a starting point only, but they would give you enough time back that you could spend some time reading Sweetspot Pricing to make your business more profitable.

Identify the time sucks

What hoovers up your time and robs you of effectiveness? I often get clients to log how they spend their time for a couple of weeks and see what they are spending their time on. Toggl is an excellent tool for this, especially if you have it on your phone on the desk next to you.

You might find you’re spending too much time on client work, so you either need to stop overservicing, automate or charge more money. Or employ someone to do the client work instead of you. Maybe you need to do all four of these.

Or you’ll find that you’re not as busy as you think you are, but your time is being sucked up by distraction and procrastination. Logging your time is the only way to be objective about this.

Don’t be tempted to tell me that you’re too busy to do this. One of my clients who I give business advice to is also incredibly busy, but whenever she gets a bit too busy, she digs out Toggl and starts logging, just so that my client is aware of how she’s spending every precious minute of the day.

Delegate everything you can

When you’re the boss, especially when you’re the boss and you don’t have any staff, it’s tempting to learn how to do everything yourself and then do it yourself.

I’m guilty of doing this because I enjoy learning new things, especially technical tricks for spreadsheets and online tools. The trouble is because I’m just learning how to do something, I’m probably not very good at it, and I’m slow.

Deny yourself the pleasure of learning how to do conditional formatting in Excel. Let someone else have the fun, don’t be selfish.

Be happy to pay out a little more

When I came to do the Resource Pack for Sweetspot Pricing, I had to put together a dozen spreadsheets and make them all work perfectly and look good. And I had about ten days to do it in because I hadn’t delegated enough of the final editing of the book.

So, I roughly put all the spreadsheets together and gave them to a lovely man called Peter on, who’s an expert in spreadsheets.

Peter took my spreadsheets and made them look amazing with all my brand colours. Plus, he corrected quite a few mistakes in my versions.

It would have taken me about two days to do these spreadsheets, and they would have been about 50% as good as the ones Peter did for me. Cost me only £120, as it took Peter 6 hours because he’s better than me at this.

Be happy to pay out a little money for talented freelancers on PeopleperHour etc. to free up your time for other things. Chances are, they’ll be better than you too.

The tasks which you can delegate

That was a one-off task. But you’ll have regular things like this, which you’ll also be spending your time doing when you could be delegating. These are likely to be:

  • Your bookkeeping
  • SEO
  • Cleaning (your office and your house)
  • Writing for your blog/website updates
  • Fixing your website when it starts doing weird things

The other reason for logging your time is that it makes you more mindful of how you’re spending your time. Start asking yourself – does it have to be me doing this? Could someone else do it for me? Could they do it better/faster than me? Make a list of everything that you could delegate.

Then you can find people and delegate the tasks to them. This might be to a team of freelancers, a virtual assistant, or if there’s a lot on your list that you don’t have to be the one doing it, you could employ someone part-time to do that stuff for you which will work out cheaper for you in the long run. Or you can hire an intern.

Guide to using a virtual assistant

I’ve got some tips here on finding some more time, and If it’s mostly client work that is taking up your time, then you either need to employ someone else to do the work for clients or change your pricing and do fewer client hours for more money. Simple.

Go home early

That sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If you want to get more done and free up your time, you should go home early. But it’s true.

When we think that we have hours to do a set of tasks, then those tasks will take up all of those hours. If you regularly go home or stop working at 7 pm, it will take you longer to do something than if you have to stop at 4.30pm.

And this is even truer if you do the “I’ll just do a couple more hours after the kids have gone to bed” trick. Because by then you’ll be tired and everything takes longer when you’re tired.

Don’t do everything

Get your to-do list out and cross out everything on your list which has been there for more than six months. If you haven’t done it by now, it can’t be that important, and it will probably still be on your list in six months. Be ruthless so you don’t have to feel guilty. And more importantly, you’ll be able to see what the important things are on your list.

If you can’t bear to take these things off your list, copy what one of my clients started doing. She would always have tons of great ideas, but she never had time to do all of them. So, she started a separate area for her to-do list, called her wish list.

Whenever she’d have a great idea that she couldn’t act upon right now, she’d put it on the wish list to look at later. And every month, she’d have a peek at the wish list and decide which ones she could promote onto the real to-do list.

And while you’re logging your time, keep an eye out for how long those client projects are taking. Test yourself and see how many hours you’ve spent on a client project, and how that corresponds with how many hours you charge the client. If these numbers are radically different from each other, you might have to look at how to stop overservicing your clients

What else can you cut down on, or refuse to do? Are you overservicing your own business and trying to do too much when “good enough” would do?

Here are some ways I can help you and your business:


Photo credits to John Schultz on Flickr and Tristan Colangelo, Ilham Rahmansyah on Unsplash