Four months ago, I had a nervous breakdown over my laptop.
“I can’t do it!” I screamed to Jeff, pounding my fists into my thighs. “I need help!”
There was simply too much to do and I was overwhelmed. Book More Brides was growing by leaps and bounds…but so were my responsibilities. I had simply reached my limit.
Hey, sometimes we need to hit that point of overwhelm to force ourselves to take the actions we need so that our wedding business can continue to grow without losing our sanity.
This article goes out to Christina, who recently emailed about time management tips. I thought we could all use a good smack upside the head.
How to Find More Time
1. Eliminate or limit distractions and interruptions.
You know the culprits: the cellphone, Facebook, the kids, the noisy neighbor outside, the wiry 50 pound dog who leaps into your lap without notice. (Maybe that last one is just us.)
Time management studies reveal that each time we are interrupted it takes 20 minutes to return to your previous level of focus.
Each interruption wastes 20 minutes of your precious time! So get rid of or limit everything that can possibly interrupt or distract you during your work time.
2. Get rid of your biggest time wasters.
You probably already know what they are. Facebook, TV and texting come in at the top of the list. Think about those empty activities that don’t add anything to your life.
Simply giving up 30 minutes of television per day steals back time you can use for your business or your family.
If you’re REALLY brave, install Rescue Time on your computer to find out how much time you’re wasting on Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. You’ll get a weekly summary of how many hours you’ve spent on each site and how productive that time actually was. Be prepared for an eye opener!
3. Outsource your repetitive or most hated tasks.
Make a list of all the tasks you do for your business. Then identify the tasks on your list that you really hate to do, or that are time consuming but require little skill, and pay someone else to do them.
Examples of these types of tasks might include organizing files, bookkeeping or importing leads into your email marketing service. Some of the first tasks I outsourced for our wedding business were scheduling my blog posts and uploading photos, and then bookkeeping (yuck!) for our multiple businesses.
Not sure where to find good, inexpensive help? Try these resources:
- Hire a local college student on the professor’s recommendation.
- Post a job on Hire My Mom or Odesk.
- Utilize Fiverr. For just $5 you can find someone to solve your troubling WordPress issues, create documents, graphics and more.
4. Create a system to simplify and streamline the things you do routinely every day.
I guarantee that you can save time by creating templates, checklists and processes for the tasks you repeat every day.
Look at that list of things you do for the business. How many of them do you repeat again and again?
Create a step by step process or system for doing regular tasks with templates you can copy and paste, and it can literally save you hours every week.
Examples of activities you can systemize include:
- Client emails and follow ups.
- Contracts and order forms.
- Responses to frequently asked questions.
- Create detailed checklists for tasks with elements you forget.
If you’re a creative wedding professional who doesn’t “do” organizing, no sweat! Hire someone (see the resources in #3 above) to create the systems for you. The time you save is well worth the investment.
5. Stop multitasking! Work on one task at a time.
We pride ourselves on the ability to do numerous things at once as a way to get more done, but studies show that it just doesn’t work.
Multitasking is an addiction that can be hard to break. Start with one activity and work on that single task with focus for one hour. Then take a break.
You’ll get more done in less time and with less stress.
6. Do the most important tasks first.
Important tasks are the ones that bring positive long-term results. Getting leads, setting meetings, strategic networking meetings: all of these activities directly contribute to the profitability of your business.
The tricky thing about the important tasks is that typically no one harrasses you to do them. Clients don’t send you nasty emails if you forget to follow up with potential business partners.
As a result, we end up spending our time responding to the urgent but non-important tasks that pop up in our face (the phone call, Facebook message) and the truly important work gets bumped to the bottom of the list.
If you want to get more results for your wedding business fast, do your high-leverage tasks first to make sure it gets done.
7. Remember to take breaks.
In The Power of Full Engagement, Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr explain that our body needs rest every 90-120 minutes. If we don’t take a quick 10 minute break, our bodies respond by releasing hormones that decrease our productivity and increase our stress.
Take a 10 minute break at least every 90 minutes when working to allow your body and mind the time it needs to recover and stay fully productive.
Even though it feels like resting is a waste of time (believe me, I still struggle with this!) pushing through because of a deadline actually works against you. Your productivity suffers and you’ll create stress.
Give yourself a break and you’ll work more efficiently, save time and stay relaxed while you get things done.
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This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my favorite productivity and time saving tips. If you want more, let me know and I’ll do a series diving into each one.
What’s your biggest time management challenge?