Why we all need to be "reclaiming my time"
Here's a question for you: If you could get an extra hour in each work day, how would you use it? It doesn’t sound like much, but over time an hour a day adds up to almost an extra work day each week and an extra month of 8-hour work days over the course of a year.
So, if you had an extra month each year to work on your biz, what impact would it have? Would you finally have time to write that eCourse? Create a succession plan and plot dedicated 1:1 catch ups with your staff? Work on your exit strategy and meet with potential buyers for your biz? Take a two-week break to work “on” your biz (rather than always “in” it)? Finally get your tax done and meet with that financial advisor? Or, simply have time to meditate and factor in a lunchtime walk?
It's exciting to consider the possibilities isn’t it? Time is the one thing we all feel we don’t have enough of and yet...we just give it away ALL the time.
The main ways we do this? By:
allowing other people's to-do lists to trump our own
failing to plan our biz content & marketing so it becomes chaotic and ad-hoc
losing focus on the biz goals that matter most
refusing to streamline processes
Of course, these aren’t the only ways but they are the ones I've found most common after teaching hundreds of small biz owners and working with brands — big & small — over the last two decades.
Here’s three seemingly small things that add up to serious time savers:
1. Focus on what matters
I ask all of my clients to list the top three goals they have for the next 12 months. It may seem small, but having just three goals ensures focus. Long lists of goals do nothing but set you up for failure and make you prone to fall for every "shiny new biz thing" that comes along. I suggest clients keep their three goals on a post-it on their laptop, on their fridge or mirror or even in their wallet. Not only do their goals stay front and centre, my clients can quickly assess opportunities that arise against these goals and say "yes" only when it aligns with one or more of them.
2. Reduce the small talk
If you haven't seen the Maxine Waters video that went viral last August, check it out here (thanks MD for sharing it with me!). In it, the US politician is seen asking a man to hurry it up with his answers, with Waters stating "reclaiming my time!" each time the man begins to waffle on. In my first year of biz, I gave away WAYYY too much time meeting people who wanted to "pick my brain" but didn't actually want to pay for it. I'd spend time commuting, pay for parking and coffees and then basically give away info on their biz for an hour or two. Now, I ask anyone who gets in touch to book a 15-min call with me via the Calendly tool. I conduct these calls from my home office (rather than driving to meet people) and I can quickly assess whether this biz and I are a good fit to work together. I also use Google Forms to create questionnaires for new clients, so I get as much info as possible up front, and I've moved many of my meetings to Zoom rather than face-to-face. Consider the meetings you have and look at how they could be reduced. Can a 1-hour session become a 10-min standup? Does every meeting require face-to-face or can things be done remotely to save time?
3. Revise, rather than repeat
Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, such as writing a response email that could be automated, or typing out hashtags for each post? Look at the tasks you regularly do and ask if any of these be automated. In my first year of business I created a different proposal for each person who contacted me. While I learned a LOT about using Canva it just wasn't productive. I now have three proposal templates in Canva I can simply tweak depending on what a client needs. I also use the nifty shortcut tool on my iPhone to store banks of hashtags for each social post (thanks TH for this one!). That way I can just type one word and click 'enter' to have up to 30 hashtags appear. If you have an iPhone simply go into settings > general > keyboard > text replacement (follow the instructions here). This also works well for responses to FAQs on social, super long URLs you type often or even automating an email reply.
I’ve been reminded way too often in the last two years of how short life can be. Most of us started a biz to get more time back yet can find ourselves feeling like we have less time than ever. By following the tips above I hope you’re able to reclaim some of your own time and feel more confident that you can, and will, reach your biz goals.