Modern life can be very busy. This is particularly the case if you run a small business and also have a family. It is hard enough getting the jobs done, let alone having enough time left over to have some fun and enjoy yourself. Here are some tips on how to maximise your spare time.
Automate. It is worth spending some time automating as many tasks as possible. Reordering stock for your business and food for the family can all be automated nowadays. Most online shopping websites now give you the ability to repeat previous orders. You could order all your basics from the local supermarket and arrange to have them delivered every two weeks. This will save you a lot of time on visiting the shops and placing repeat orders. Many suppliers will also allow you to place a regular request for supplies to be delivered.
Pay your bills by direct debit whenever you can so you don't have to waste time manually paying bills.
If you run a website and use social media it can be a drag keeping up a continual presence on all of your platforms. Try using a social media manager to automate your posts. You can sit down once every week or two and plan your posts for weeks to come. You can also post to several different platforms at once. Set up your blog so you can post articles in the future, even when you are on holiday. This is great for customers and users of your site. Again you can set it to run and leave it, giving you time to do other things.
Delegate. Everybody knows about this but many people are not very good at it. Anything that you can delegate, do. Try to think of just one extra thing you could delegate this week. Whether this is to someone in your own company or another, get as much help as you can keeping things running smoothly. If you try to do everything yourself then you may run into trouble. This can be the same around the house. If a big job needs doing, gets in the professionals. Think about getting a cleaner or a general maintenance man if you find yourself with too much to do around the house.
Prioritise. Work out what is essential for the following hour, today, and this week in order that you can reach the weekend and relax. You need to know that you have covered all bases and you don't have anything outstanding. Don't get caught in the trap of putting off the important tasks and doing the easy but less essential jobs now. Otherwise you will feel permanently busy and could end up getting stressed. Put yourself in control and get those jobs done. If you are prone to this try making yourself do one tedious difficult job a week so you have a target and work your way through.
Plan. Planning ahead reduces time wasted and you can find better and more efficient ways of accomplishing your tasks. Try to make plans when you are doing something else such as walking. This can make it easier to focus. Spend time working out the best time to get jobs done so that you do them when you at your most productive. You are more likely to get the work done if you are expecting to do it at a certain time and have plans for later. Plan your recreational time and work out what you need to do beforehand. Make a task list on your telephone. This can really reduce stress as well because you are less likely to forget things and are more likely to get the jobs done in time. It can also be helpful for prioritisation.
Use your apps. If you spend much time writing emails, articles or reports then try dictating them at using dictation software. This can save a huge amount of time. Take a look through the productivity apps and see if there are any which will help you be more productive. There are some great super-fast keyboards available for smartphones. Banking apps are great because you can pay bills on the fly.
Multitask. Multitasking is not new but it is definitely worthy of being part of your plan. When you are planning ahead think what tasks you can combine for efficiency. If you walk or drive to the gym or to work you might be able to make a few calls on your hands-free kit on the way. If you spend time waiting or on public transport you can do something productive, even if it is for 10 minutes. Many business owners find that they do not have time to regularly update their blog and wish that it was a more regular occurrence. If you spend 10 minutes a day on the bus then that would be time well spent towards writing something great. Don't waste time flicking through your Facebook page. All those 10 minute slots add up to a significant amount of time over weeks, months and years.
Batch jobs. Batching jobs together can lead to more efficiency and less time wasted. Using a list is also helpful here. Avoid going to the shops every day or two, instead make a list and order online or go as infrequently as possible. People become more efficient at productive tasks when they do them repeatedly. It is definitely much more efficient to take this approach if you do online marketing. Group your jobs together so that you do not need to keep logging in and out of different sites. Instead of posting one post a week to your blog why not post four posts once a month? When you log on to do your online banking think ahead if there are any payments you can schedule. Make sure you pay all your bills at once so you won't have to log in again tomorrow.
Summary. Make sure you automate, delegate, prioritise, plan, use your apps, multitask and batch jobs. You will increase your output, reduce your stress and make the most of your spare time.
Dr Toby Bateson - ZenPlugs