Freeing Up Your Time – Eliminate, Automate, or Outsource
There are three ways to free up your time that you need to explore to get control of your calendar and your schedule. There are some things in your schedule that you cannot eliminate, automate, or outsource. You must do them yourself, and when you can identify those things, you’re going to get a lot more organized. You’re going to be able to determine better what to delegate to others, what to stop doing altogether, and identify software that helps you automate things you can’t do either with.
Let’s look more closely at this idea.
In your day, on any given day of work, there are things you do out of habit that probably can be either eliminated, automated, or outsourced. But, the trick is to figure out which of these you can do.
The idea of eliminating things from your workday routine can seem scary. You’re accustomed to doing it, whatever it is, but you probably don’t even need to. No one will even notice if you stop doing it. There are a few things you can mark off your list right now.
- Open-ended Meetings – This can be a hard thing to do because in some ways, meetings give you a social life if you’re working from home. But it’s easy to drag them out if you don’t have an agenda. There is no reason every meeting needs to be an hour long either. Sometimes a 15-minute meeting will do if you have a good agenda.
- Answering Repetitive Questions – If you find that you’re getting the same question all the time, it’s time to create a FAQ sheet and send people to that when they ask that question. That way you don’t have to keep repeating yourself. This works for team members as well as for potential and current customers.
- Eating Lunch at Your Desk – This is something a lot of dedicated people do. But it’s not really a time saver and can make you feel like you never get a break. Take time for your lunch by changing places and focusing 100 percent on your lunch and your break. It can be just 30 minutes, it doesn’t have to be an entire hour. You’ll come back to work refreshed.
There are many things you are doing right now that can probably be automated. You may not even be aware of some of the new software out there that helps you get so much done. These are three items right now that you can automate today.
- Bookkeeping – Software like GoDaddy Bookkeeping helps you automate how you book your income and expenses. It connects with the cards and bank that you use and does that work for you. That can save you hours of time and keep you from missing transactions.
- Blog Post Promotions – You can get plugins for your website that helps to automate promotion of your new blog posts. You can set up your email software to automatically grab any new blog posts and send it as a broadcast to the lists you choose. You can also get set up with a system like Quuupromote.co to get real people to share your blog posts. Look for this and WordPress plugins that share to social media automatically to take this off your plate.
- Integrated Technology – There are software programs out there that help you automate everything from triggering a certain email to go to a certain person, to putting people on your email lists, and more. Look at IFTTT.com technology. This means “if this, then that” and helps you get so many things done when you learn to set it up and make everything work together. You can even outsource this to an expert who will look at all the things you do on a given day and let you know what can be automated.
Of course, another way to get things off your plate is to outsource. The rule of outsourcing is that if it’s not your main money-making task, let someone else do it. If it doesn’t need your personal touch, let it go. But, you can also outsource your weakness. If you’re not that great at something, stop doing it.
- Customer Service – This is one of the first things that many companies outsource, and for good reason. If you set up a system for customer service and teach your agents your expectations and give them the power to truly help your customers, it’ll work out great and take that off your plate.
- Content Writing – While you still may need some of the more personal content that you create to have your personal touch, the fact is you cannot produce enough content on your own to feed the search engines and your audience with enough material that touches them through all phases of their buying cycle in your funnels. If you outsource the general content such as educational, information, and interactive content across social media and on your blog, you’ll free up your time to focus on deeply connective and personal content creation.
- Administrative Tasks – Posting blogs, formatting eBooks, scheduling podcast interviews, arranging speaking gigs, travel plans, and so forth are all things that can be done by anyone. Remember, if it does not need your personal touch, it’s perfectly fine for someone else to do it. Someone else can do most of it and you can even add your personal touch later.
As you can see, by eliminating, automating, and outsourcing, you can take a lot of things off your plate and make it seem as if it all works seamlessly – giving you that much more time to focus on the main money-making tasks in your business.
What are Your Most Valuable Skills?
Before you can determine what your most valuable skills are, you need to get real about yourself. This is important so that you can focus on the valuable skills, spending more time and energy there, instead of running around doing things you dislike that you’re not good at, and that doesn’t add to the value of your business. Let’s look at three ways to figure out what your most valuable skills are so that you can better focus your energy.
What Do You Love to Do?
Everyone has things that they love to do. One sad fact about growing up in today’s world is often we are taught that work is horrible. Work isn’t supposed to be fun, much less pleasurable at all. But the truth is, this is bad advice. You can do what you love and earn a living. In fact, if you do what you love, and find a way to earn from it, you’ll have a much more enjoyable life and probably make more money than if you try to do the “right” thing and only do things based on what society says to do.
Make a list of everything you are doing in a day. Then get a highlighter and highlight the things you love doing on that list. You can order them from Love to Hate if you want to. The firsts thing you want to eliminate from your day are the hate things, then the things that are neither love or hate, and finally, keep working harder on the love things.
What Do You Do Each Day Where You Lose All Track of Time?
If you’re still not sure, look at the things you do where you lose track of time. Some people call this “getting into the flow.” When you’re doing this thing you start off slow, then at some point you look up from the work and see that several hours have passed and you don’t feel exhausted. You feel happy and energized and proud of yourself. This is the thing you probably are good at and should do more of.
This could be any type of thing – from speaking in public, to doing Live Events, to writing, to graphic design, to even bookkeeping. Everyone enjoys something different, which is why it’s important to focus on those things you truly enjoy doing. There is always someone who enjoys what you hate, and they will do a better job at that task.
Identify Your Biggest Strengths
There may be something you’re super good at right now that you also find enjoyable. Make a list of your strengths, and then match them to those things that you love doing and get you into the flow of doing so that you lose track of time.
If you’re not sure yet, one way to find out what your strengths are is to ask other people. If you have ever worked closely with anyone at work, as a volunteer, or in your business, ask those people to tell you what, in their view, is your greatest strength. This can help you narrow down those things that you are good at, what you like doing, that gets you into the flow and helps your day speed by without notice.
It’s important to be open to exploring all possibilities. What you think you love today may have nothing to do with what you really love at this point. If you’re willing to explore, ask people, experiment, and find out, you’re going to be able to better find your true calling in life. But, first, you must be open to it. Self-discovery is very important for your success.
Learning to Say “No” is Important
Like most business owners, you may have been taught by a well-meaning coach or teacher that saying yes is how you find success. While this is true, it’s also important to identify the things that are important to say no to. Learning to say no is important so that you don’t waste your time doing things that won’t make a difference, that you don’t like doing, and just aren’t in your wheelhouse.
Know Your Priorities and Objectives
When someone asks you to do something, your first thought should be, “How does this affect my priorities and help me reach my objectives?” If there is no connection, then you know that you need to say no to that opportunity.
Know Your Core Functions
There is a thing called “scope creep” that mostly affects service-based businesses. If you have a service-based business, you probably understand this idea immediately. Your clients may ask you to do things that you aren’t an expert in. For example, if you design websites for a living, your client might assume that you can also make them a logo or create content for their website. These are not your core strengths, so it’s fine to say no. “This is outside of my wheelhouse, here is someone I can recommend for that service.”
Understand that Boundaries aren’t Barriers
When you put a boundary around your time and how you use it, learning to say no to things you don’t like, don’t need, and don’t align with your core values might at first feel as if you’re putting up barriers to your own success. But understand that boundaries aren’t barriers. A good boundary, “I don’t design logos” is a perfectly fine boundary for a graphic designer to set. Another graphic designer probably only designs logos and that’s what they want to do. They don’t want to make book covers, so that’s their boundary. You may not want to go to long meetings, and that’s fine, someone else may get a lot out of it. Saying no, for you, fits your needs – and that’s important.
You don’t have to say yes to every single meeting. You don’t have to say yes to every single new client. You don’t have to say yes to anything that you don’t want to do. But, ensure that you’re saying no for the right reason. The right reason is that this opportunity doesn’t fit with your needs, values, or goals right now.
You don’t have to explain your no, either. You keep your no simple. “No thank you” is good enough. If someone pressures you, just tell them that this opportunity doesn’t fit into your objectives right now but thank them for asking. If you can, recommend someone else. When you say no but become a resource at the same time, you tend to open more doors than you close.