Finding more time in your day often seems like an impossible task, but in reality small changes can make a big impact on your time management. Managing your day is super important as a solopreneur because your time determines what happens in your business.
Below are simple fixes to 5 common time sucks that can help you run your day smoother and find a little more time in your day-to-day.
#1: Inbox Invasion
Your email inbox is not something you want to ignore, but it’s also something that can suck away the hours faster than a GOT (Game of Thrones) marathon. Compulsively checking your inbox 50 times a day is not the way to take care of your time or business.
❏ Block time in your schedule to check your email and only open your inbox during those times on a typical workday.
#2: Social Media Distraction
How many times a day do you find yourself mindlessly checking your social media channel of choice (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)? You know your mind drifts, and you find your phone in hand scrolling, liking, not engaging. The random scroll is not managing your social media.
❏ Block time in your schedule to check and engage with your social media channels.
I recommend you schedule in blocks dedicated to a specific channel, not general social media time because then you still have that impulse to like, scroll, and get distracted by the next channel (hello Insta Story loop).
❏ Turn off all notifications of updates for social media.
Move your phone out of your reach while you are in work mode, seriously you might be surprised how this can impact your productivity.
#3: Decision Overload
Even small everyday decisions can result in decision fatigue, and as a solopreneur, you are the whole ship so reduce your decision stress by having structure and schedule to your day. This is why Obama had only two types of suits and Mark Zuckerberg the hoodie; they know they need to reserve their focus for more important decisions.
❏ Embrace routines and add structure to your day as much as possible.
This works differently for different people, some of us would go crazy if we wore the same shirt every day or only ate a blueberry muffin each morning. That’s ok you don’t have to go to the extreme.
❏ Start small and try to recognize little annoyances.
Do you feel stressed trying to pick your lunch? Then have a set of three options to choose from or make a plan each Sunday for your lunches. I’m food obsessed, so that is where my mind goes, but it really can be anything about your day- business or personal.
❏ Schedule out your day, no excuses. You are going to have to figure out your personal preference, but you 100% should have a schedule that guides your day.
Scheduling does not mean you necessarily have every single hour planned down to the minute. Find the structure so that you know what to sit down and work on throughout your day.
Examine your day and find how you can improve its structure. And if you are one of those rebel types, re-frame that questions and ask yourself, “How I can make my day less stressful?”(seriously).
#4. Fixed Focus Freeze Out (i.e., the dreaded blinking cursor)
Forcing it when it just is not working. You know when you have a task scheduled, but the words won’t flow, or the words just are not coming out smoothly. Stop, move to a new task. Finishing in one sitting is not the goal, the goal is to keep your tasks moving forward and reaching deadlines.
❏ Schedule in regular breaks to your day.
Science has proven that your brain needs breaks, especially when switching from one challenging task to another.
If you are over scheduling tasks, then you are stressing your brain which leads to decreased focusing ability. You need to recognize when you get to that point and give yourself a break instead of trying to power through.
❏ One of my favorite ways to make sure breaks are part of my day-to-day is the Pomodoro Technique!
The basic technique is to work in 25-minute sprints, 5-minute breaks between sprints, and then after four sprints, you take a longer 30-45 minute break. It makes sure you have those built in breaks, plus it’s pretty easy to trick your brain into working for ONLY 25 minutes instead of, say, finishing a 3000-word post.
#5: Appointments All Day Erryday
If your business consists of lots of set appointments, it might be hard to find time to get any other business related tasks squeezed into your day-to-day.
There are two fixes to this: one is to reduce the need to have so many small time gaps, the second is to develop ways to make better use of those smaller gaps. There is always more than one way to look at a problem!
❏ Reduce the number of meetings.
I already hear the objections. Ok, you don’t necessarily have to reduce the number of meetings, though I would highly recommend that you take a hard look at your schedule and what meetings you might be able to combine, shorten, make virtual, or make every other week.
So here’s the real trick to getting meetings to take up less of your time, it’s to batch them. Maybe you only take appointments in the morning, or only on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or you give yourself just a single day a week or even every other week to not have appointments.
I don’t recommend you have meetings back to back all day long without any buffer because that can get stressful. BUT look at how you manage appointments and see if you can’t tidy it up a bit to make more time between meetings.
❏ Make better use of your gap time (i.e., that time between appointments).
This one was a real game-changer for me. If I had, say an hour, between appointments I would often find myself in the bad habit of random email checking, Facebook checking and plain old lollygagging.
The fix to this is stolen from the Pomodoro technique; by using 25-minute working sprints for those shorter chunks of time between meetings. You would be surprised what you can get done in 25 minutes!
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