Ever look up at the clock after a crazy busy day and immediately wonder, "Where the heck did all those hours go?"
Yeah, it happens to the best of us.
Time is a scarce resource, especially for small business owners and self-employed professionals like us.
Here's what we learned from you!
Productivity Apps Are Your Best Friend
There's a reason for the saying "There's an app for that." You shared with us that, overwhelmingly, your most useful appsare the ones that make everyday tasks easier and less time consuming.
Anything you can automate = more time for you to spend on the parts of your business that you love.
Rachel Ritlopuses a handful of tools to automate her business. Here are some of her favorites:
Calendly: Save time by letting your clients snag slots on your calendar instead of chatting back and forth endlessly about your schedules.
Hootsuite: Lots of folks here use Hootsuite, which allows you to plan out and schedule posts across your social media channels. Spending a few hours at the start of the month scheduling your posts can save you time in the long run (but don't forget to keep tabs on replies and mentions that come in from your customers!).
Dasheroo: This app lets you track analytics for tons of different apps and services that you use, all in one place – which means you no longer have to keep 100 different browser tabs open at all times.
MailChimp: There are a number of different services out there that will allow you to automate and easily send your email marketing newsletters, but this one is a favorite of Rachel's. MailChimp lets you quickly design attractive email newsletters and schedule them, plus it keeps your email lists organized and updated in one place.
Organize Your Time into Blocks – and Schedule Everything
Blocking your time is officially the new multitasking.
Studies continue to showthat focusing on one thing for a specified period of time is better for your productivity than attempting to do several small tasks at once.
But how does that *really* work in practice?
This month, we put ourselves to the test. Based on what we learned about how other folks here are blocking their time, we tried the same using this criteria.
Schedule your time into "blocks" for specific tasks: bookkeeping, phone calls, fulfilling orders, social media, etc. Only do these tasks within their designated blocks to avoid burnout and wasting time.
Schedule some 30-minute "buffers" into your day for those times when one task inevitably tries to take over your day.
Don't forget to schedule time for distractions and creativity, too!
Holy cow, we got a lot done! At first it may seem silly to schedule creative time or even time to distract yourself on Facebook, but after a few days of following a schedule where every half hour was blocked, we actually feltfreerwith our time.
If you're not sure how to start blocking off your time, Rachelsuggests writing down everything you do (yes, everything!) for 48 hours so that you can begin to see what's truly important and where you're bleeding minutes (or hours).
Quality Over Quantity
40% of us in the community post on social media whenever we feel like it, without much of a plan. But when we asked if it's paying off, 40% of you said that you aren't sure if your efforts are even working.
The bottom line: It's time to stop spending time posting willy nilly without a plan.
Don't feel like you *need* to post on Facebook or Twitter because it feels like something you *should* do. Instead, experiment with blocking out only 30 minutes a day(or less!) and focus on posts that work towardyour current main goal, along with some evergreen posts that you can schedule ahead of time.
Along with that, make sure that your social posts are reaching the right eyes! There are tools out there (Rachel recommends ManageFlitterandCrowdfire) to help you target the right audiences and unfollow irrelevant folks who won't find value in what you're posting.
Change Your Mindset
The #1 time waster for community members? Stressing about money. A whopping43% of you saidthat worrying about your finances is the most unproductive way of spending your time.
Rachel thinks we should start with a mindset change, not a financial one.
"We worry about money when we are stuck in a 'scarcity' mindset. This type of mindset increases sadness and jealousy, which isn’t good for business. Plus, with this type of mindset, most decisions are likely fear based, which is never good for business. Instead, as business owners, we must get into the 'abundant' mindset."
So, what isan abundant mindset?
An abundant mindset begins with the idea that there are enough clients and gigs out there for everyone, and that all you need to do is work to find those people.
Here's what Rachel does to keep herself in the abundance mindset.
Start each day with 10 minutes of motivational reading. Choose something that makes you feel centered and inspired.
Express gratitude daily – make a list of 3 things you're grateful for (and be sure to mix it up each day).
Catch yourself when you start comparing your work to someone else's. If you do, correct it by instead thinking about something you did that day where you knocked it out of the park.
Clean up! Get organized externally to bring some internal peace to your everyday. This could just mean tidying up your workspace or clearing off your desktop on your computer.
So, what now? Pick a tactic, then tell us how much time you save!
These little changes can help you become more efficient and effective with your time, freeing you up to focus on the parts of your business that youlove.
Choose one (or all!) of these time-savers to help you bring two hours back into your day. Then, tell us below what you learned!
Bonus points if you also want to share what you're doing with all that extra time. ;-)