Let’s face it, money is pretty vital in the world we live in, but even more vital than money is the resource of time. Ever feel like you are running against a stopwatch? Time is an often overlooked and under-appreciated gift. We are all blessed with 24 hours each and every day, yet how many of these hours are spent doing things that truly matter to you - that fill your heart with joy and happiness? That light you up? Life is short and unpredictable, yet we sometimes live our lives as if tomorrow is somehow guaranteed; putting off the joy of living and feeling bogged down by all the things we have to do!
Think of this question for a moment. If you were to whizz forward twenty years from now, and look back at your life… would you be happy with the choices you made? Would you feel regret? Is there something or someone you lost that you would have fought harder for? Would you have spent your time in the way you have?
We live our lives with an innate knowing that we have a finite amount of time here - yet it’s not until something shakes us up, like the death of a close friend or a terminal diagnosis that we truly appreciate the value of time.
Today, for example, single mom’s are having to work such long hours they end up missing out on the joy of parenting - either they’re too emotionally exhausted from having to balance their career with being a mother, or they are so time-starved they barely get the chance to spend such precious time with their children. Similarly, if you’re a single career-focused woman, your career can become your life… and with so much vying for our attention today, we need to look at ways to have more free time freedom to engage in the important things in life.
We’re often guilty of taking care of everyone else first but it’s worth remembering that - as Warren Buffett says - you only get one mind and one life. It’s important to use all your time wisely and set time aside for yourself as well as the other really important parts of your life. Time is an incredibly valuable and scarce resource; so let’s look at some time saving tips to help you focus on what matters most.
1. ORDER GROCERIES ONLINE
I have not been to the grocery stores in a really long time! At first it happened out of necessity when my husband was recovering from a surgery and could not drive and I had to go back to work. But then we both realized how convenient it was not to spend 2 hours every weekend at the grocery store. Think of how much time you could save if you were to simply order your groceries online and have them delivered to your door. The drive to the store, the time in the store, packing bags, driving back, unpackaging bags, not to mention the potential for traffic. Setting essential items to repeat on a weekly or monthly basis is a great way to keep on top of things without having to exert much mental energy. I am a big fan of Amazon (including their food delivery and prime service), Instacart or Uber Eats for all my food and household needs.
2. GET A HOUSE CLEANER
It’s true that not everyone can afford a house cleaner, but this can be such a time (and sanity) saver. Maybe you cannot afford it weekly, but what about getting someone just once a month to do some of the heavier lifting. In the alternative, you can always turn cleaning into a fun game where the kids get involved with cleaning as playtime activity; or set yourself a timer and see how much you can get done in just thirty minutes making cleaning a slightly more engaging and manageable task instead something that seems so daunting because it will take all day.
3. WORK REMOTELY
I just recently went through a big shift at my work (read my reveal post here). I started focusing more full time on my blog and family business. I had a conversation with my current boss about changing my schedule - and it worked! I am only in the office 2 days a week now. So if possible, see if you can work remotely, from home, in a way that enables you to work flexible hours; this way, your time is your own. Similarly, if you study, nowadays you can study most courses online without needing to attend a physical class - as an example, you can get an MBA online like we discussed in last week's post or you can even study practical qualifications such as first aid training by the National CPR foundation. An online class not only saves time, but also money, as online courses are often cheaper due to reduced overheads plus you don’t need to travel to the course or get overnight accommodation.
4. ORGANIZE YOUR TIME
The convenience of online working and online studying means you have much more time to enjoy your life, and for that matter build a life. We spend far too much time living in reaction to work - trying to fit our lives in, yet it doesn’t have to be that way; the amount of time you can save by having a good planning system in place is phenomenal… a lot of “time management” comes down to first planning your tasks so that you can keep on top of things with ease.
5. RELY ON A TEAM
As working professionals, we often feel like we need to do everything on our own and delegating is quite a scary prospect. Whether you want to assemble the perfect team of employees or a number of committed freelancers that you outsource tasks to on an ad-hoc basis, having a team in place to delegate to is the most important principle for busy business women to follow.
6. WORK WHEN YOU WORK
Brian Tracy, a pre-eminent time management expert advocates the idea that you work when you work and rest when your rest; meaning, if you are sitting down to work - ensure you have a singular laser like focus on the task at hand in a distraction free environment. Today, particularly when working from home, people multitask by working with their laptop on their lap whilst having the TV on in the background, or even dropping in and out of a conversation with their spouse. By fully working when you work, you can reduce the amount of time you are needing to work - and you’ll get the added benefit of being able to fully rest when you rest. Sometimes I just have to shut my door at work so my focus can be tight and when I do that I get a lot more done!
7. THE PARETO PRINCIPLE
The Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule suggests 20% of our activities account for 80% of the outcome. In simple terms, you want to focus on what tasks are going to have the greatest impact and get these done first. Often, we can get lost in the small tasks that create a lot of “busyness” and detract from the time we need to take care of our “business”. The best way to go about this is to write a list of all your tasks for the day, week, or month and then determine which tasks are going to create the greatest impact; as an example, is it the 50 sales calls you keep putting off or is it the hours you keep spending on aesthetic design.
Below I have linked some of my favorite books to help you conquer the workaday world so you have time for the "real" world life you really want to have! What are your time saving tips for your fellow boss babes?
M.E.L. is an attorney and small business entrepreneur whose mission is to help professionals conquer the workaday world with style and poise.
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