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Productivity / Time management tips

Finding more time

In the 2008 FS reader survey, 41% of you said wearing too many hats was your biggest business challenge, while 28% said they weren’t enough hours in the day. Here are some tips for finding more time in your day.

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As a sole practitioner, your range of responsibilities can be vast. The need to multitask during your working week can put a squeeze on your consulting hours, or the time you’d rather spend perfecting your craft.

That’s aside from the usual commitments outside of work, i.e. having a life.

So how can you find more time? There are some simple tricks for finding more time that you can employ to work more efficiently.

Avoid face to face meetings

Robert Gerrish has one of the most valuable time savers around. In a recent article, Robert shared his clever strategy to save time by avoiding face to face meetings unless absolutely necessary. Kudos! Look at it this way: if you spend just thirty minutes travelling each way to a meeting each day, you’ve wasted a solid, five hour block of work.

Expand upon this strategy by using Skype or webcam for meetings where body language matters. Alternatively, see if the other party can come to you. Just be sure to still set a time limit or they may never leave!

"I maintain balance by mentally including blocks of time for personal tasks and responsibilities, including watching TV while eating my lunch or anything else that gives me a proper break from my desk or professional tasks. "

Block out time for specific tasks

Each week, I divide my days into mornings and afternoons. I then schedule blocks of time in my diary under four clear categories:

  • Accounts – invoicing, data entry, reconciliations, BAS.
  • Marketing – blogging, public speaking, author talks.
  • Clients – consulting, training, writing, record keeping, follow up.
  • Infrastructure – general admin, professional development, R&D.

With this method, I never feel over scheduled and am able to focus on one thing for an extended period.

I also maintain balance by mentally including blocks of time for personal tasks and responsibilities, including watching TV while eating my lunch or anything else that gives me a proper break from my desk or professional tasks.

Want more articles like this? Check out the time management tips section.

Stop procrastinating!

We are all prone to procrastination, particularly when our workload seems over or underwhelming. But procrastination is a very effective way to waste time. You need to take responsibility and get on with the task at hand. I say: get on with it or get over it! Here are three practical ways to deal with the problem:

  • Give your procrastinating a time limit. Allow yourself ten minutes of reading that trashy mag instead of an hour. Ensure you refocus back to a specific task when your ten minutes is up.
  • At the start of your work day, choose one task and work solidly on it for an hour. You might just find it wasn’t as bad as you thought – particularly if you knuckle down and give the task your full attention. Doing this sets a positive tone for the rest of your day. I know that if I start my day focused and productive, it generally stays focused and productive.
  • Make healthy choices. Even the most industrious of us have bad priorities. For example, you have a deadline for the end of the day but decide instead to work on something that’s not due until late next week. Hmmmm… reality check, time! That’s procrastinating. The tip here is to frequently ask: should I be working on this particular job right now?

Minimise distractions

Your productivity might be splintered with many distractions. You can increase your focus by “shutting it”:

  • Shut down your email and only check it two or three times a day!
  • Shut down your browser as soon as you’re done.
  • Turn your phone(s) off, turn the ringing volume down, or let it go to message bank.
  • Shut the office door.
  • Shut your gob. Chatting excessively is one of the worst time wasters around. If it’s colleagues who are the chatterers, get into the habit of letting them know you’d love to chat, but now isn’t a great time. They’ll quickly get the idea.

What works for you to help you with finding more time? Or if you are brave enough, share your worst time wasting habit!

Lissanne Oliver

is a Professional Organiser, Trainer, Author and TV presenter who helps organise people’s space. She is the best-selling author of "SORTED! the ultimate guide to organising your life - once and for all" (Hardie Grant Books).

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