Time is our ultimate weapon abuse it or utilise it

I work with many clients who struggle to manage their time effectively. They often know they need to manage this better but can struggle to make this change with a real impact. You will see the dramatic difference it makes when you incorporate a few new healthy habits and routines into your days to allow you feel like you are managing your time instead of it constantly being in reverse order. Check out my top tips below.

 

1. Plan ahead and set goals with realistic time frames

Knowing what you have coming up and booked in allows you to manage your time more effectively giving you limited surprises. Take time each evening to see what has been accomplished for the day and what you have coming up, compile a list of tasks, refer back to this first thing the next day. Nothing worse than diving into your day with no clue of what is going on.

 

2. Distractions are our worst enemy, avoid them

Avoid this by closing all browsers except the ones related to your immediate project. Turn off notifications on your phone and computer, you’ll be surprised how much time you waste checking your phone every time you hear a notification. Check your calendar first thing so you have an overview of your week/day. Try using something like Focusme or Freedom if you struggle to avoid the temptation. Technology is here to help, utilise it.

 

3. Create routines and workflows to create consistency

A good way to ensure you are on top of everything is to create checklists outlining the action/steps required to complete each task/project. This can be used again at a later point saving you so much more time as the planning has already been thought about and implemented. I highly recommend using Asana for managing repetitive workflows in detail, it’s amazing how much time you can save.

 

4. Take a second to breathe, our breaks are our sanity

It’s easy to convince ourselves that working from 9 straight through to 5 will mean we can get a shed load of work done. This is often not the case as your attention to detail starts to decrease, things get missed and if anything you end up having to repeat steps you have already taken. To produce the best work you need to know when to take a break. This relieves stress, allows your brain to rest and focus on something less strenuous, when you come back to it you will be looking at it with a fresh pair of eyes and a refreshed mind.

 

5. Stop checking emails every minute

Don’t let this overrun your day. If you are constantly checking your inbox everytime a new message comes in you will never have time to pay attention to what matters the most. Set intervals into your diary for checking this and stick to it. Often you open and email and leads to click then a read, then another click and before you know you have fallen into the “distraction” zone again.

 

6. Be honest with yourself and your calendar

Be honest with yourself when you check your diary/calendar and are setting your tasks and goals.. Have you set too many tasks for the day that you know you cannot commit too? It may seem like saying “YES” to everything that comes your way is necessary but it’s not. Learn to say “NO” sometimes it’s for the best in business. Don’t take on what you know you can’t handle it can go against you. Make sure what you have set out in front of you is achievable, this can help with your stress levels and the feeling off being overwhelmed.

 

7. Delegation

Time is your most valuable asset, learn how to outsource your workload to others.  This could be tedious tasks you dread doing or tasks that would be better suited with the right experience. This allows you to focus on your most pressing projects, tasks, goals and most importantly some time for you.

How To Make The Most of Lost Time

FLIGHT DELAYED? STUCK IN A TRAFFIC JAM? HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF LOST TIME


Thanks to technology such as Skype and Google Hangouts, business owners can now work seamlessly with clients and colleagues across the globe with the capability to connect with someone thousands of miles away almost instantly. A whole range of other apps and technological products also come to our rescue during the working day helping us work smarter and more efficiently. However, it’s surprising how much ‘lost time’ many of us suffer during the course of our working week. This can be due to things such as:

  • Commuting to work and facing traffic jams or delays to public transport.
  • Business meetings where you are forced to wait for your client or customer because they are delayed.
  • Downtime due to technological issues.
  • Waiting for your plane at the airport.

There are many others, but if you take a look back on almost any working week, you’ll find that you would have more than likely lost a significant number of hours one way or another. Some of these could be prevented but the fact is you will inadvertently find yourself losing valuable business time during any working week, whether you like it or not. Is there a way of putting a positive spin on such occasions?

 

Turn lost time into a time to do something positive


There most certainly is! These unexpected pieces of free time can be immensely useful if you approach them right. Have you ever found yourself thinking that you never seem to have enough time? That you feel you’re being pulled in all different directions? These unavoidable delays and losses of time shouldn’t be seen as a negative thing, after all, you have no control over what caused them. Instead, why not look at them in a more positive light, as little gifts of time? There are plenty of things you can do to take advantage of them.

 

5 ways to use your little gifts of time


If you’re travelling, call ahead to your hotel or any other upcoming reservations and ensure they are correct and in order. You may be inconvenienced now, but you can use this time to ensure that everything later in your day goes smoothly.

Research: Sometimes we spend our week at 100mph. When was the last time that you set aside some time to do a bit of research? This could be research about any number of things. What are your competitors up to? What are the wider trends happening in your industry? Are there any tools or services out there that could help you work smarter?

Read a book, listen to some music or just relax. Life for many of us goes at such a frantic pace, we forget the importance of relaxation. If a business meeting is delayed, a short period of time to relax and reflect before can be really positive. You may even find yourself performing better for it.

Call your family: Whether it’s your partner, children, parents or other members of your family, spending time with your loved ones, even if it’s at the other end of the phone is precious.

Sleep: If you’re going to be delayed for a while (and there is somewhere to do it appropriately), catching up on some sleep can work wonders. Having a power nap in your car, for example, could benefit you significantly. Statistics from the Sleep Council show that the majority of us in the UK aren’t getting enough sleep and according to sleep experts Nick van Dam and Els van der Helm, there is a proven link between effective leadership and getting enough sleep.

There will always be lost time in business and life in general. As Benjamin Franklin, the former US President famously said, “Lost time is never found again”. Treat these unexpected delays and lost time as opportunities. If dealt with positively you will find yourself getting ahead when you least expect it, whilst others continue to dwell over time they can never get back. It’s all about doing what you can now.

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8 Excellent Time Saving Apps

As a freelancer or business owner, your time is valuable, you have people and tasks to manage as well as customer care, finances and everything else on that lengthy to-do list of yours. Finding a way to manage your time better will help you become more productive and efficient on a daily basis. Whether for collaboration purposes, note-taking, administration or website tracking, there’s a tool for everything nowadays, the question that often arises is: Which ones are the best?

Here are 8 of my favourite apps I personally use and found to be most effective. I’m sure this will help you optimise the time you have available.

Evernote – Remember everything
This productivity app does exactly as it suggests, it acts as your note taker. If you dig a bit deeper you will find you can use it for so much more, I have. You can manage your to-do lists, bookmarks, reminders and even capture images, clips and receipts, everything you need to remember in one place. The great thing about this is that it syncs automatically across all your devices, and across all your operating systems, making it accessible online and offline. The more I use it the more I get addicted, I’m proud to admit that I’m an Evernote junkie. Here are some of the reasons why I fell in love with it and how you can use it for your business:

  • Free to use with the option to upgrade
  • Collect Screenshots, web clippings for your next article or blog
  • Type or create or audio notes in a meeting
  • Create to-do lists and reminders to keep you organised and on track
  • Create notebooks and notes
  • Connect with other apps

If you’re thinking about trying this out, you may want to check out these top tips to help get you started: https://evernote.com/evernote/guide/windows/

FreshBooks – Purpose built for small business owners
I personally trialled and tested several online accounting software’s, this one being the winner. It’s everything wrapped in one, simple but effective. I personally used Sage before but found as a smaller business this works so much better. With a click of a button, you can convert hours worked (down to the second) into an invoice, making it a seamless process. All features are pretty much unlocked in the unpaid version allowing you to brand and manage all your invoices, expenses, reports and time spent on projects. Here are some features you may not know about:

  • Free version (limited to 1 client)
  • Collect reviews from your clients
  • Time tracking application so you can track time spent on projects
  • Set recurring invoices
  • Allow access for your clients and accountant
  • Take payments online


A review from a Freshbook user:

“FreshBooks makes tax season stress-free by giving us the ability to send our accountant journal entries to do the heavy lifting.” Melissa, Director of Ladies Learning Code ladieslearningcode.com

HelloSign – E- signature’s built for business
Forget about sending contracts via post or email, with today’s technology, this is no longer necessary. Upload drag and drop your signature box’s, check and send, easy as that. I personally use it to send out my clients contracts but can be used for anything that requires a signature. Here are a few more things you can achieve with Hello Sign:

  • Free to use
  • Store your personal signature so it always looks the same
  • Evernote, Dropbox and Google integration
  • Receive updates for signatures requested
  • Scan and save documents
  • All signed documents are legally binding

Go take a look: https://www.hellosign.com/

Canva – Amazingly simple graphic design
I’m no pro when it comes to design work so this has been a life saver, there’s nothing wrong with shortcuts especially when you get the same results. It’s drag and drop features make it user-friendly so even those who are new or inexperienced with technology can work it out. Create anything from social media and blog posts to infographics using a range of templates and images. These are my top 4 reasons to go and try it out:

  • Quality free templates and images available
  • Option to purchase images @ $1 each
  • Clean and simple
  • Upload your own images

Tips and tricks that will make you a better designer: https://designschool.canva.com/blog/professional-design-tips/ 

Hootsuite – Powerful social tool for business
Social media is key to a growing successful business, which is why managing it is even more important. Yes the thought of going through it all is daunting, but for those drama queens out there I’m telling you it’s not as bad as you make it out to be, it can be so much more simple. I use this daily to manage all my social media accounts and feeds in one place. I can view mentions, re-tweets, messages, statistics and can schedule posts and updates using the auto schedule feature. I don’t think I have ever considered using a different platform for my social media channels and I don’t think I ever will as this is amazingly useful. Here a few more features that may tempt you if they haven’t already:

  • Free version available (limitations on number of social channels you can add)
  • Team collaboration
  • Hootlet plugin lets you share information easily from the web
  • Schedule posts in advance

Go check it out: https://hootsuite.com/

Lastpass – Simplifies online life
There is a password for everything these days, you can’t use the same one and you can’t write them down because it’s not safe but you have to because your memory is not what it used to be. LastPass was my solution. It is a password manager and password generator that locks your passwords and personal information in a secure vault. I use this for all my business online accounts and client accounts. I have not yet had a problem logging into any web browsers or applications since using this. Here’s what else it can do for you:

  • Free plan with option to upgrade
  • Finger scan lock
  • Password audits
  • Password auto-fill
  • Data manager
  • Track personal information in photo & audio notes and more

Make your password’s even more secure with these tips: https://blog.lastpass.com/2016/01/password-resolutions-you-should-make-for-a-secure-2016.html/ 

Freedom – Block distractions, get your work done
Our phones are one of our biggest distractions, we often underestimate the effect this has during the working day and how much time is wasted. Luckily there is a tool to stop you from continuing with this bad habit. Freedom makes it easy to block the most distracting apps and websites from your devices blocking what you want when you want. Start being more productive with a little help.

  • Free to try out
  • Schedule freedom time in advance
  • Block specific websites & apps

Check out some these statistics, I think you will be shocked, I was: https://freedom.to/why 

Dropbox – Secure file sharing and storage
This is something I have always used for both personal documents and business. Transfer content from your PC to other devices free of charge. Whilst you may be tempted by similar apps this one still proves to be the most simple and cost effective. This is the basics of what it can do:1

  • Free
  • Advanced security features
  • File recovery
  • MS 365 integration
  • Powerful admin tools
  • Collaboration tools

Here’s the place to go: https://www.dropbox.com/

I’m sure you have some favourite of your own, feel free to share I always love to know what is working for other people.