tips to save time

3 Tips to Save Time for Small Business Owners (And Everyone, Really)

Jun 11, 2024

How do you do everything? How do you balance family, finances, schedules, health, and actually having a life? And a business?

The frustrating truth is that we have become scattered and exhausted. We get to the end of the day and we don't even know if we did anything. But we did. We did a lot of things!

According to the American Psychological Association, two-thirds of 18 to 34-year-olds feel as though no one understands how stressed they are. 58% of them describe their daily stress as “completely overwhelming.” 

I know this cycle well. After feeling completely overwhelmed, we face the shame cycle that tells us we didn't get enough done. But what is enough? We don't even know… but we're sure we didn't get it done. There's just not enough time. 

But… what if there could be? Simply based on where you spend your time?

I’m going to give you my three best tips to save time and how to spend it where you want to. 

Is Saving Time a Myth?

I once wrote a book called, “Take Back Your Time: The Guilt-free Guide to Life Balance.” The massive pain point this addressed for people—including myself—is this idea of getting it all done. 

In fact, in 15 years of being a business coach, speaking, and writing, the number one question that I have been asked from both men or women—those who work in corporate America, or run their own business, or stay home with their kids—is, “How do you balance at all?”

The premise of my entire book is that there should no longer be a goal to balance everything like an evenly-divided split. That is a myth. Instead, the goal is to feel balanced even in your busy life. You're going to learn how to do the right things at the right time. 

Here’s the harsh reality: You are losing time in ways that you have no idea. You are losing time in:

  • Inefficiencies
  • Poor systems (because you've just done it this way for so long)
  • Lack of understanding your true values

You don't question that you are losing time, you just don't realize why. The good news is, you can save time. You may need to cut back on some things, or hire, or delegate, or outsource. But I’m here to tell you: You can find time in your schedule right now. Let’s do it. 

Tips to Save Time

1. Batch your tasks.

According to the American Psychological Association, shifting between tasks can cost you as much as 40% of your productive time. So, when you are planning your week and the tasks you need to get done, put “like” things together. 

I don't know if you're like this, but I can feel the exhaustion from simply switching gears, back and forth, in my business or in my life. When you're switching gears, it takes time to get into that gear; to warm up to the speed of that gear and eventually get the task done. In this day and age we wear multitasking like a badge of honor, but the truth is we’re killing our productivity by switching back and forth. 

It’s time to kill the long to-do lists that have nothing to do with each other. Instead, I want you to batch like things. For example, I batch things on my calendar large blocks of time—two or three hours—and I knock out a ton of the same type of activity. Here are the exact tasks I block two-hour windows of time per week for: 

  • Reels for social media
  • Business-related emails
  • Fulfilling invoices
  • Writing podcast episodes
  • Doing laundry
  • Budgeting

Those are six tasks that I have to do, but this way I solely focus on each one on a dedicated day the week. What could you batch-accomplish in your life if each category had its own day of focus?

2. Separate projects from tasks. 

We treat projects and tasks like they’re the same thing, but they’re not. 

For example, on your to-do list, you probably have things like: pay the bills, schedule the hair appointment, pick up the prescriptions, shop for groceries, plan your kid’s birthday party, prep for summer camp. But none of these things go together.  

Picking up prescriptions (although, many times, can feel daunting) is not the same thing as prepping for summer camp. In fact, if you're a parent of a school-age child, you know that summer camp is Tetris for 12 weeks of summer—figuring out which friends are going to which camps for which ages on which weeks. And heaven forbid those weeks overlap when you wanted to go on summer vacation! Prepping for summer camp is a project with many tasks that roll up under it. 

Picking up prescriptions is a task. The task is, you go pick up the prescriptions and you come home with the prescriptions. 

Planning a birthday party is a project. Sending the invitations, getting the goodie bags, and planning the menu are tasks within that project. 

If you begin to organize your tasks by project—and even separate the projects—you will give yourself more brainspace, time, and energy. 

Look, your brain is working really, really hard. All day, every day. When your brain looks at a to-do list and sees groceries and the birthday and the prescriptions and summer camps, it's working really hard to make sense of it all. In his book Getting Things Done, David Allen said, “Your brain is for having ideas, not holding them.”

So think about your individual projects and give each one its own to-do list. Once you’re organized by project, you’ll find it’s easier to batch tasks out into “like things,” or by deadline. You can put things on your calendar and make your daily or weekly to-do lists from there. 

3. Visualize your time. 

Find ways to visually represent your priorities, to-do list, tasks, projects, or whatever you’re working on. 

Here are some examples of ways I visualize my time:

  • Project management software for work—like Trello
  • Use a dry erase calendar on my fridge, organized by each of my three kids
    • i.e. sports, therapy, childcare, those silly dress-up school holidays…
  • Use Google or Apple Calendar so that I can view it from both my phone and computer, and reminders will alert me on both devices

When we check something off of a to-do list, move a Trello card to the next column, or we knock something out, our brain releases dopamine. It incentivizes us to want to do more of that! So set up your schedule, your projects, and your tasks in a way that works for what your brain already likes. 

The Secret Fourth Tip to Save Time

Here’s the bonus fourth tip: Be realistic about what's not working. In your life, in your schedule, and in your business… specifically around your time. 

For example, several weeks ago on a random Tuesday morning, I had time blocked off to write a couple of podcasts. But my sweet toddler daughter, Mary Grace, had other plans for me. 

As I was trying to write, Mary Grace came into my office probably 97 times.  

I cannot write an episode for my podcast with a tiny, adorable person asking me 900 questions, asking for more muffins, or asking if I can type her precious name into Microsoft Word. 

I’m her mom—of course she wants to know what I’m up to! But this wasn’t fair to her or my work. So it’s become clear that I need extra help with the kids on days I want to get work done.  

You might not have kids, or maybe you can somehow get stuff done while they’re around. Maybe your issue is totally different than mine. The point is, be honest about what’s not working. When you stop spinning your wheels, you're going to have more hours in your week, better output, more productivity, less stress, and less frustration. 

I know if you practice these tips to save time, you're going to get more done than you ever imagined in your business and in your life. 

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