Everyone today is so busy with social media, day jobs, consulting, freelancing, and of course, an actual personal life (does that even exist on its own anymore?!), it feels like the bottom of the to-do list is unreachable.
To be productive and still lead a balanced life, there needs to be a method to the madness, meaning we need to work smarter, not harder.
Fortunately, there are some simple tricks to saving some time, staying organized, and adding more hours to time spent at the bar.
Make It Routine
The more you can automate those tasks that are regular on the to-do list, the more time you’ll be able to save. Things like updating social networks, scheduling blog posts, ordering supplies, paying bills, and invoicing can all be set up to be done automatically. Socialoomph is a great way to schedule tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time, making it easy to check in once a day to respond to replies and comments.
Small businesses can set up accounts for office supplies and other essentials to automatically re-order on set intervals, and all you have to do is call a supplier and ask.
Paying bills is made easy by setting everything up on a credit card to be paid at specific dates – bonus if you pay everything off on a miles earning credit card. I use ChaseSapphire, which lets me take my extra time saved and miles earned to Miami for a very long weekend every year. For the best invoicing system, and basically every other business tool you could ever need, try Zoho.
If you are having trouble automating some simple tasks that are major time consumers, think about hiring a virtual assistant to do it for you. I’ve used Elance in the past with wonderful results and it’s only about a $6.00-10.00 an hour. Use them to answer e-mails, upload and format your blog posts, edit and create simple documents, manage your e-mail program, and basically anything else you do that you don’t need to be doing.
Spread It Out
I’ve never been a fan of working a straight eight-hour day. You will get much more done if you break up your day into two or four hour spurts where you can focus intently and then do something else you enjoy for an hour or two.
You can try starting your day at 6 or 7 a.m. working on something important that needs to get done until 9 a.m., when calls and e-mails start filtering in. Then it’s easy to take an hour to mindlessly respond, have a little coffee, surf your favorite blog sites, and relax for a minute. From 10 to 2, tackle another major project of some kind. Having gotten things done sets you up for a longer lunch break. You get the idea.
If you have to be at work for a set number of hours, try taking small walks outside or finding deals on Ebay for 20 minutes. You’ll be surprised how much easier it is to focus when you have trained yourself to expect a break.
I leverage my social networks all the time to find referrals, ideas, and answers to questions I have. It’s much faster, and usually a much better answer, than I would get from two hours of research.
For example, mycompany’sblog is entirely written by other food bloggers! The end result is a great foodie blog with a variety of pictures and recipes I wouldn’t have been able to do on my own. Plus, the bloggers get to reach my audience as well.
Next time you’re in a pinch for a project, for example if you’re in need of content for a blog or articles, ask a few experts to send you one good tip, and then format it all together.
When you crowdsource you will get feedback on your plan, save time and money, and find quality answers from people who know what they’re talking about.
Take these tips and put them into practice – maybe you can meet me in Miami next year!
How do you work smarter? Tell us in the comments!
Photos by Rishibando and Novantis AG.