Remember that one time you became a solopreneur because you could work your own hours? That was funny. Funny because for many solopreneurs, those hours greatly increase as soon as they fly solo.
Many of us love what we do, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that running a company of one can be a 24/7 job (or at least it feels that way).
I used to put in those hours too, but when burnout set in, I knew something either needed to change, or I’d need to go back to the standard 9-5.
Choosing the former, I began researching ways to reduce the hours spent on work. There are a ton of recommendations out there, but these are the ones that worked for me. If you are burning the candle at both ends, I recommend that you check out the time-saving recommendations below. You may have heard some of these before, but I bet there are others that will surprise you!
My Top 10 Time-Saving Hacks For Busy Solopreneurs
1. Develop a Morning Routine
If you Google the habits of highly successful people, you’ll find that many of them get up early and follow a specific routine.
While I’m luckily a morning person, I never had the routine part in place, that is, until I picked up a book called, The Miracle Morning. Disclaimer, I have zero affiliation with the book, it was just life-changing for me, and I don’t say that lightly.
Whether or not you decide to read it is totally up to you, but do the best you can to come up with some early morning routine. It puts you in the right headspace for the rest of the day and can give you clarity on what needs to be accomplished.
Among many other benefits, my focus has greatly increased since setting up a routine and I’ve gained many hours back in my week because of it.
2. Put a Plan Together for the Day
Whether you do this in the morning or the night before, having a plan for the day saves you so much time bouncing around from one task to another and trying to decide what you should focus on next.
Be realistic about what can be done in a day and knock out your hardest/most tedious tasks first. It’ll make the remaining tasks feel like a breeze and you won’t have as big of a mental block to get through them (mental blocks are so time-sucking!).
3. Know Your Peak Productivity Hours
I can crank out soooo much work in the early hours of the morning and during standard working hours. Ask me to do something productive after 7:00 PM? Forget it. My brain turns to absolute mush. Something I could get done in 30-minutes at 6:00 AM would take me hours at night. I’m not exaggerating.
As a solopreneur, you get to pick your hours, so choose the ones where you know you’ll be the most productive and get uninterrupted work done then to help save you time the rest of the day.
4. Avoid Distractions
Put. Your. Phone. Away.
Have. Set. Times. To. Check. Your. Email.
Put. A. Timer. On. Your. Social. Media. Apps.
I could go on. The bottom line is there are a gazillion distractions these days and each time you give into one, you lose time.
I believe the biggest distraction is multitasking. At the moment you feel like you’re getting so much done but the reality is you’re only slightly paying attention to each task, leaving room for error and often requiring the need to re-review at a later time. Stick to one thing at a time and once that’s complete, move on to the next. It actually ends up saving you a lot more time in the long run.
Identify the things that are distracting to you and define the environment you are most productive in to optimize efficiency and save time.
My favorite tool to get in the zone? Coffitivity. I’ve always been really productive working from coffee shops and this website brings the sound of coffee shops to your computer. Put your headphones in and get to work! Joe Rando, the founder of LifeStarr, recommends Hemi-Sync as well to get focused. Check it out!
Side note: LifeStarr is working on an app that allows you to put both personal and professional tasks in one place so that you can get them out of your head and clear up your mental space. Learn more and get notified when the app is released here.
5. Automate Tasks
This header explains it all. Automate tasks so that you don’t have to do them manually. Find technology that supports your efforts and can take the mundane aspects of your tasks off your plate. For example, rather than sending back-and-forth emails to get meeting availability from people, I use Calendly where people can pick a time that’s available on my calendar to schedule a call and this all happens behind the scenes. I also use HubSpot for lead nurturing and email automation.
There are tons of tools out there so do your research and see what will work best for your needs and fit within your budget. You’ll be glad you did.
6. Utilize Sprint Sessions
I discovered The Pomodoro Technique years ago and I highly recommend that you check it out. I put my own spin on it that works for me, but basically, I set a timer for 50 minutes, and during that time, my head is down and in work mode. When the timer goes off, I use the remaining 10 minutes of the hour to get some food or water, stretch, take a quick walk, and so on. Then I do the same at the start of the next hour.
Knowing you have a limited amount of time to get something done can really help you focus. I’ve saved so much time by following this practice.
I’ve written several articles recently on working with a virtual assistant, and that’s because sometimes you really can’t do it all (at least not all at once) as a solopreneur. If you want to save time, you need to learn to let go and pass off tasks that you either don’t like doing or don’t have the time to do,
Start identifying what those tasks are and see if you can find a person that can help.
8. Optimize commute time
Whether you’re in the car or walking, getting to and from a place doesn’t have to be wasted time. It’s the perfect opportunity to further your education by listening to podcasts or audiobooks or listening to the audio recording of a Zoom meeting you missed. Need to return a call? Do it while you’re en route (provided it’s not distracting you from the road, of course).
Take an inventory of the things you’re doing at your desk that you could be doing while you’re on the go and start doing them away from your office.
9. Learn How To Say No
Ever spent a day with a preschooler? They have absolutely no issues with saying “no” if they don’t want to do something, yet as we get older we tend to lose the ability to stand our ground so easily.
However, to avoid burnout, you have to learn to turn things down, even if it’s a new client. Have a clear set of guidelines for your business, the types of clients you’ll take on, etc, and if something is asked of you that doesn’t meet your established criteria, simply turn it down.
No need to be a “yes person” when you don’t have enough hours in the day to take everything on.
10. Meal Prep
Kind of a weird thing to put in a business blog, no? You have to eat though, right? Instead of spending money on delivery every day, or staring at the fridge trying to figure out what you want to eat and then preparing it at every meal, batch your meal prep for a handful of times/week.
It’ll put you into a “set it and forget it” mentality and will free up quite a bit of time that you can allocate elsewhere.
As mentioned, these are just some of the things that have worked for me personally. What have you done that has helped you save time in your busy schedule? We’d love to hear about it!
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