So much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it.
Your day is manic from start to finish, and there aren’t enough hours in the day! Sound familiar? It’s all too easy to jump from one task to the next, and not take a time-out to focus on how you could save yourself some time in a typical working day. Make a quick cuppa (or grab a glass of gin if you’re reading this while burning the midnight oil) and settle down for a few practical time-saving tips…
1. Keep a diary or calendar
Sounds obvious, but you can use it to manage your time carefully; good time management is key to saving time, as you have less opportunity to procrastinate. It can be online or paper-based, it doesn’t matter, as long as you keep one. Assign specific chunks of time to each task, be realistic, but do build in a bit of slack. Go crazy, invest in a few highlighters to make it look pretty, colour-code, and easy to interpret at a glance. Then try to stick to the time you’ve allocated each task. It’s amazing how focused you can be if you know you’ve only got an allotted time for something. Time-saving at its most basic but most effective.
2. Declutter, declutter, declutter
If your physical and your virtual office space is a mess, you’ll spend valuable time wading through items that should be re-named, re-housed, archived, or binned. It may feel like an onerous task and a waste of precious time to sort through everything and organise it into a productive, effective, efficient structure. But you’ll find that, apart from it being immensely cathartic, you save yourself bags of time when you go looking for that important contract or that vital travel document. Do make sure that once you’ve made the effort to declutter, you stick to your shiny new system, and don’t lapse back into your old, chaotic ways. Honestly, it soon becomes second nature. Oh, and take a quick look at your desktop too…can you see the image behind a crowded mass of indistinguishable document shortcuts? No? Then get cracking and declutter that too!
3. Take back control of your emails
Not to name any names, but someone I know has an inbox of 2000+ emails. It’s enough to make me want to cry! Even if you have a fraction of that amount, you can’t possibly be productive and answer every email in a timely manner. Depending upon what email platform you use, you’ll have different functionality, but they all include an option to create folders, so do make use of this. Only you know what kind of folder system you need, but if you’ve decluttered your virtual/physical office then it would make logical sense that your email filing system mirrors it. Decide how many emails in your inbox is manageable (for me it’s 20), and then stick to it. Religiously. I’d also recommend scheduling time in your diary once a week to make sure you’re in control.
Make use of any colour category options that you may have, whether that’s just assigning a colour for each type of email, such as expenses, queries, or events, and if you can, givingassign a name to each colour. Establish files and sub-files, and ensure that you deal with and file each email to keep on top of your inbox. Of course, if you have 2000+ emails in your inbox, it’s going to take a considerable amount of time to sort through, but do it in manageable chunks; it’s honestly time well spent. And, in the long run, time saved beyond measure.
4. Use a CRM System (Content Relationship Management)
In real person speak, this is a great software package for managing your contacts. A CRM is invaluable to help you cope with your growing/overflowing/unmanageable* pile of business cards. There are loads of CRM options out there, most with a free version if you want to try before you buy. Once you’re using the free version, there is no expectation or pressure on you to buy, and you can continue (as I do) to use it for its basic functionality. You can enter company and personal details, link to social media profiles, create or link to e-campaigns, view analytics, monitor sales performance, assign tasks, create events…have I sold you on the benefits yet? Oh, and did I mention you can do this for FREE! What’s not to love about a free piece of time-saving software? Decide what you want to input, record, and analyse, and then google the best one to meet your needs. I use Agile CRM, but others include Asana, Capsule, Hubspot, Insightly, Salesforce, Trello, and Zoho. Happy CRM hunting!
*delete as appropriate
5. Limit your Social Media procrastinating
How many hours of your day do you find yourself sucked into the social media world? You think you’ll just have a quick browse on Facebook, then LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit…and before you know it you’ve lost an hour or two. It’s so easy to do, and unless you’re a saint, we’ve all done it (and I’m pretty sure even saints tweet pictures of their miracles to share with their followers). The key is to limit yourself and assign a block of time during the day – in your paper or online diary obviously –to keep abreast of what’s going on. Spend some time answering queries, establish an online presence to reflect your business acumen, and then log out! Check it a couple of times a day if you want, but don’t keep the page open in your browser, as you’ll get distracted every time you see a hint of a notification. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save just by focussing your social media energy into chunks of time.
6. Use a Social Media Scheduler
Naturally, you want to use social media to promote and sell your products and services, and you want to post every day to get maximum exposure and reach. But you’re finding it hard to post every day, consistently, and to post original content. Ever thought about using a system so that you can schedule your content a month in advance? A few of the biggies are Buffer, Coschedule, Hootsuite, and Meet Edgar, and they can save you vast amounts of time, energy, and sanity. You can then connect as few or as many social media platforms to this scheduler as you want. As with the CRM there are loads of free versions around that give you basic functionality, and you need to pick the one that works best for you. It does take some concentrated weekly or monthly effort, and I’d recommend that you sit down and plan out a month-by-month ‘content calendar’ (there are loads of templates available online to help you do this, or email me and I can send you one), and then plan in time in your diary weekly and monthly to create the content that you want to publish. Make sure that you’ve got a mix of content, with images and wording that reflect your brand, and then upload them to your automated scheduling system. There are limitations on each as to how far in advance you can schedule, but compared to trying to squeeze in creating and publishing content every day, they are a massive time-saving device.
7. Use an automated email marketing platform
There are many of these around, but my personal favourite is MailChimp. With them, you can automate your marketing to take away both the stress and the time-consuming effort of creating a newsletter or e-campaign from scratch every time. There are loads of templates to choose from, and you can import email lists (including one from your sparkly new CRM system), integrate with social media platforms, run an advert, and analyse the engagement rate of each campaign. The time-saving solution that dreams are made of!
8. Hire a Virtual Assistant!
So, if you’ve read this far, you know that you’d like to save time, but feel you can’t afford the time out of your business to do everything yourself. The good news is that you don’t have to. A Virtual Assistant is just the solution you need. No employee overheads and no training involved, just a super-skilled, super-efficient, super-person to help manage your diary, declutter your office, manage your emails, structure your CRM, create content, schedule and monitor your social media, and implement your e-campaigns. And so much more! Let a VA do the hard work, while you concentrate on generating revenue for your business, secure in the knowledge that a VA hired is time-saved.
There is no work life I know to compare with good time-saving preparation. Hiring a Virtual Assistant, you’ll be hassle free if you truly wish to be. What are you waiting for? Get in touch now for a free consultation!
**Disclaimer - I must stress that I’m in no way being recompensed for recommending any products. It’s purely because I like and use them myself
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