How to Create More Time in Your Day
There are two sentiments that I hear most often from my readers. First, "How do you do ALL THE THINGS you do?" And second, "I wish I had more time."
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind, is not about having more than 24 hours in a day, but using the time you have more efficiently. Yes, I do a lot of things - blogging, teaching, coaching, podcasting, hosting blog events, plus I'm a wife and mom with a social life. But the reason I'm able to get so much done is because I've learned how to manage my time, which essentially has allowed me to create more time in the day.
I sent out a reader survey not long ago, and one of the questions I asked was an open-ended, "What's your biggest struggle?" The answer was a resounding - TIME MANAGEMENT. Everybody wishes they had more hours in the day, but is that really the issue?
Let's be honest. If you have more hours in the day, you most likely wouldn't be any more productive than you are now. Instead, you know what you'd be?
But don't worry! I'm here to help you. Efficiently managing your time will feel like you have created more time in your day, because after all, life is meant to be lived, not hurried through with a ton of to-do's filling your days.
HOW TO CREATE MORE TIME IN YOUR DAY
The fact that you're reading this blog post means that you suffer from "too much to do, not enough time" syndrome, right? The strategies I'm going to share with you today WILL work. But there's a secret sauce:
Come closer. Are you listening?
YOU HAVE TO IMPLEMENT THESE STRATEGIES OR THEY WON'T WORK FOR YOU!!!!
I promise you, pinky swear, covered in sweet tea & waffles, that implementing even ONE of these strategies will help you feel more organized and efficient with your time. So start with one. Ok? Ok!
#1 - Track Your Time
We are natural over-schedulers, you & I. We see an empty space in our calendar and our brain says,
Hey Kirsten! There's nothing here. There should be something here. Schedule something!!! I'm empty!
So we do. We stick something in that time slot and we pat ourselves on the back because we're busy. That must mean we're productive!
[bctt tweet="Being busy and being productive are not the same thing." username="sweettea_llc"]
The most eye-opening time management strategy for me occurred when I started tracking how much time it took me to do recurring tasks. I tracked how long it took me to do things like:
- edit a podcast episode
- make graphics for a blog post
- write, edit, & schedule a blog post
- schedule social media << HELLO!! Time Suck City right here!
- edit photos for a blog post
- answer emails
- set up a client call
You can't effectively use your time if you don't realize how much time you're using. Makes sense, right?
HOW TO TRACK YOUR TIME
#1 - Use a clock.
You can use the stopwatch feature on your phone, or you can use a third-party app like Toggl. Right before you start a new project, pop over to Toggl and click the timer.
#2 - Write it down.
For each type of project you do, write down the time it took you to complete. Do this for every blog-related task for about a week, and you'll have a solid idea of how long it actually takes you to do things.
#3 - Plan accordingly.
Now that you know it takes you 2 hours to write a blog post, you can plan accordingly. Set aside dedicated blog post writing time, and block off a solid two hours.
#2 - Turn Off Distractions
Another syndrome we suffer from is "Shiny Object Syndrome". You know it, right? The need to have ALL THE TABS open on our computers while working on ONE thing?
My biggest distraction is that pesky notification number that pops up in my inbox or on my phone. I cannot STAND to have an unread email or unchecked Facebook notification, so I go full squirrel mode if I'm even remotely tempted.
HOW TO ALLEVIATE DISTRACTIONS
- Put your phone on silent and in another room. Sounds harsh, right? But if it's in front of you, you know you'll check it. Out of sight, out of mind.
- Close ALL the tabs on your computer except what you're working on. Seriously, do it.
- Tell people you're busy. When I have a heavy workload, I message my VA to let her know that I'll be unavailable for a specified time period. I also tell my husband that, if he calls me, I won't answer because I'm working.
- Get all your crap together before you begin. I see you - you foodie trying to create a recipe, or DIY blogger trying to be all crafty. Before you begin, make sure you have all of the ingredients or supplies you need right at your fingertips to maximize your efficiency. If you leave the workspace to look for something, you could easily become distracted and lose focus on something else.
#3 - Create Workflows For Common Tasks
Every single time you write a blog post, you probably go through the same steps, but I bet they're in a different order each time. Why is that a big deal? Because you forget stuff, which means you have to stop working on something else to go fix what you thought was already finished.
Creating a detailed step-by-step workflow for things you do often helps you in two big ways:
- You don't have to think about the steps. Free up your head space with the meat of your blog post, not the nuts & bolts of putting it together.
- You are prepping your process for when you can pay someone to do it for you. Ahhh yes! An assistant! Wouldn't that be wonderful?! What would be even more wonderful is hiring an assistant and having a ready-made stack of workflows for her.
HOW TO CREATE A WORKFLOW
First, decided if you're a pen & paper kind of gal, or a Google Docs kind of gal. Create a blank doc or grab a sheet of paper and get ready.
At the top of your paper or doc, write your project - blog post, photo editing, podcast editing, etc. Then, as you go through the process, write down every single step. Leave nothing out.
When you're finished, create a clean copy that you can use over & over again. And actually use it. Every time. In order.
#4 - Batch Your Work
Whether you work from home full time, or you are fitting your blog into the fringe hours, you probably don't have huge open windows of time to get things done. Instead, you have these little pockets of time, and you have to squeeze as much work into those pockets as possible.
Try batching your work. Let's say, for example, that you need to shoot some photos for a blog post, and you need some Instagram posts, and you need to prepare for an upcoming webinar. Here's what that looks like:
Batching will help you see it more like this:
If you're going to be taking photos for a blog post, you might as well style a few shots for Instagram while you're at it. And when you sit down to edit those photos, go ahead and create the graphics for your blog post, social media, and your webinar.
Then, when you have a bigger chunk of time, write your blog post (and your pictures are already done!), write the copy for your webinar promotion emails (and use the graphics you already created!), and schedule some Instagram posts (with the photos you already took!).
See how that works?
If you work from home like I do, I batch things a bit differently. I have dedicated days for different parts of my business. It looks something like this:
- Monday: meetings with clients or mastermind group + inbox zero
- Tuesday: podcast editing, video editing
- Wednesday: meetings with clients + inbox zero
- Thursday: podcast recording
- Friday: content creation day (aka WRITE ALL THE THINGS)
I pretty much bury my head in the sand every Friday and just write. The rest of the week is for building my business in various ways. And when I have extra time on any given day, I mark off some of the tasks I have on my never-ending to-do list, like updating old blog posts or brainstorming webinar or course ideas.
#5 - Learn the Power of "No"
As I mentioned before, we have a tendency to over-schedule ourselves. So there's a word that you need to re-introduce to your vocabulary. When you were a toddler, this world rolled off your tongue so easily and with such gumption.
Two simple letters, but so hard to say sometimes. But you need to say it. Not every opportunity that arises is destined for you. Not every idea that pops into your head needs to be done right this minute.
Get in this habit: For every "yes" to something new, say "no" to something else.
"Hey Kirsten, we'd love for you to speak at our blog conference!"
- looks at calendar and cuts blog content in half in the weeks leading up to the conference
I only have so much time. I can't give all of it to everything and everybody or I'll have none left for me. And I'm quite stingy with my time, thank you very much!
#6 - Eat The Frog
I discovered this phrase about 10 years ago, and it's stuck in my head. There's actually a book called "Eat That Frog" by Brian Tracy, but I've never read it. Don't have time.
(I'll sit here a minute while you figure out what I just did there.)
Are we back? Ok. :)
Basically, the idea with eating the frog is to knock off the most obnoxious thing on your to-do list first. Just GET.IT.DONE.
Remember when you were a teenager and your mom told you to clean your room? You sit around all day on Saturday doing everything except clean your room, then you'd realize it was 9:00 at night and you better get it done or you'd get in trouble. (Can you tell I have a teenager? Bless it.)
We still do this, y'all. We do! We have things that we KNOOOOWW we need to get done, but we are SOOOOOO dreading them. We'd rather have a root canal than do some things, like call my accountant. UGH!!
Do it. Knock it out as soon as you sit down at your desk. Be done with it. You'll free up your head space for more fun things, and you won't have to waste time or energy stressing over it anymore.
It truly is possible to create more time in your day. It just takes a little bit of practice and some strategy, but I promise, if you implement even one of the strategies I've given you, you'll start noticing how much time you have to do other things.
Oh, if you're curious, it took my one hour and 17 minutes to write this blog post: